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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lutheran Confessions ... and a woman psychologist?

1 Timothy 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

The above Bible verse is not unclear... all Christians who can read get what the Scripture says above. But in the 2nd Edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, General Editor Paul T. McCain presents a comment by Dr. Beverly Yahnke, Executive Director of Christian Counseling Services. The comment is supposed to encourage lay readers to read and understand the foundational writings of the Lutheran Church.

But what is this... it is written by a woman.  Hmmm, aren't the Lutheran Confessions supposed to uphold the Scriptures as God's Word?  The editors of this book point out on page 2 how the original Lutherans emblazoned VDMA on their banners to emphasize the eternal truth of God's Word?  How is it that I am supposed to reconcile this fact with the clear teaching of the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bible verse?  I don't get it...

But let us go on.  A quick search to find out more about Dr. Beverly Yahnke reveals she is a Professor of Psychology. Prof. Robert Kolb, in a presentation (2008 Aus Lecture 1) on video (16:14 - 16:36), said psychology and sociology were gifts of God that are needed to be used to serve the church.  But God gave us all the counsel we need in His Word and therefore the church needs no admixture of human wisdom and counselling in His church.  My comments concerning psychology in the church are summarized in my comments in previous postings here and here.

Continuing this research trail, we find that Dr. Yahnke is part of the organization "Doxology – The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel".  In that capacity, she provides "assessment, counsel and care for pastors".  Those involved in this counseling and training organization would likely say that they are a "confessional Lutheran based counseling service" as opposed to other "evangelical Christian" counseling services.  Rev. Harold Senkbeil, the founder, wrote a book pointing out the errors of "evangelical Christianity" and "proposes a new Lutheran initiative in the face of the Evangelical challenge".  Unfortunately his new initiative is to add worldly psychology and call it "Christian".  A certain Romanizing tendency is confirmed by the fact that all locations for training venues and conferences are Roman Catholic facilities.

Dr. Beverly Yahnke, I appeal to you directly. If you believe God's Word as the Confessors did at Augsburg, then you believe it is true and that all of it true and applies to even our modern world.  The Bible verse above constrains us and so your position of teaching as a woman and a psychologist over not only men but also pastors militates against the Scriptures... and causes all lay Christians to doubt the truth of God's Word, an effect that I believe you would not want.  You cannot in good conscience continue as you are.  A good way to back out of this confusion caused by your comment published in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions would be to:

1) request withdrawal of your comment in this published preface in any future editions by CPH,
2) re-publish via a website your comment again as a Christian woman but with an apology for the confusion caused by the book's printed preface, and
3) re-assess again if your psychology based counseling to pastors measures up to the true Christian counsel contained in the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification. (see parts 13 - 16 here).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Luther to the confessors at Augsburg: what not to do

In the 1930 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly (CTM), volume 1, pages 310-311, is an article by Franz Pieper about Luther's counsel to the Lutheran confessors at Augsburg in the year 1530.  The history of this is basically a history of the founding of the Lutheran Church. Pieper's article:
To what purpose have not “the Lutherans” come to Augsburg.  Luther was not at Augsburg during the Diet of Augsburg but at the castle Coburg.  But from the Coburg he directed an "admonition" to the papal clergy gathered at Augsburg.  He asked them if they want not to miss the time of grace that is offered to them by God through the Diet [of Augsburg].  Literally, Luther says: “For God gives you grace, opportunity, time, and cause through our most gracious Emperor Charles to do and accomplish much and great good through this diet, if you only want to.”  If several among the priests said: “Who needs you? Who ever demanded your exhortation or writing? There are so many learned and pious people here [in Augsburg] who can give better advice than a fool like you.”  So Luther answers:  "All right! That I will gladly believe and may God grant that it all be true. . . . .  But still it is also true that one cannot do too much of a good thing and one fool has often given better advice than many wise men. On the other hand, wise people have generally done the greatest harm on earth, especially when they depended on their own wisdom and did not act in the fear of God and with humble hearts pray for divine help and grace.” Luther deemed it in 1530 – just nine years after Worms – according to the state of affairs to point out emphatically that the "Lutherans" did not come to Augsburg to learn from the papists the Christian doctrine, but to confess the divine truth before the Papists and bear with them for their instruction.  Luther's admonition begins at this point: “First of all, you need not deal with me or my kind, for the true Helper and Counselor has brought us and our cause so far and has established it where it should remain and where we also wish to leave it. In this matter we for our part need no diet, no counsel, no control; nor do we want any of these things from you, for we know that you are unable to do any better, no, not so well as we. Whether we fall prey to Turks or Tartars, pope or devil, no matter, our cause stands secure. Thus we know how we should believe and live, how we should teach and act, how we should suffer and pray, how we should recover and die, where we should look for, get, and find everything, and where we are finally to remain, according to the word of St. Paul, Romans 8[:28], “In everything the Spirit works things out for the best of those who are elect.” God has richly bestowed this upon us through Christ Jesus our Lord and it has already been proclaimed and established through the blood and martyrdom of many pious people put to death by your party. Not that we are perfect or have attained all things. But we have the right rules, as St. Paul [Phil. 3:16] puts it, the right way, the right beginning in our favor. Indeed our teaching is lacking in nothing at all no matter how things are in life.  We are concerned about you, however, and the poor people still under you who are entirely uninstructed or always uncertain. We would always gladly help in this respect at any time with prayer and exhortation, the best we can.” (St. L. XVI, 946 ff.; Luther's Works, vol. 34, pg 9 ff.)  Luther's view of the situation at Augsburg suffers to this day an application of mutatis mutandis (change keeps changing).  Also those that are called Lutherans propose to make bonds with the papacy and in particular with the reformed sects to thereby enrich the Lutheran church in doctrine and life.  Those who are of this opinion know neither the Church of the Reformation nor even the papacy or the sects. 
We see by this that Pieper viewed Luther's counsel as still applying to today's church.  The "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" between "Lutherans" and Roman Catholics back in 1999 shows the continuing slide of much of the world's external "Lutheran" church bodies towards the errors of the papal church, the same "Lutherans" that Paul McCain says can be "helpful", "shed light" and offer "necessary course corrections" to today's church.

Who understands Luther today? ... Pieper's answer

In the 1930 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly, volume 1, page 391, is an article by Franz Pieper about those who can understand Luther. After giving a quote by Erasmus about Luther, Pieper goes on to summarize:
Luther is understood only by those who believe by God's grace, as Luther believed, namely that with all that he by nature is, thinks, wills and does, lies under the condemnation of the divine Law and then to believe through the action of the Holy Spirit God's Gospel that says to him all his sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ's vicarious satisfaction or in other words, he is justified. Even if Christians do not experience all this in the high degree that Luther did, they must still go through the same spiritual school as far as the essential parts. They must lose the fiducia sui, the reliance on their own righteousness before God, and overcome the horror of conscience by the reliance on the righteousness acquired by Christ.  And the experience of the effect of the law and the gospel on the heart and conscience runs through the whole Christian life.
Today's lack of understanding of Luther therefore is a testimony to the unbelief of the "modern" world.  Almost all general editors, editors, assistant editors and translators of the English translation of Luther's Works - American Edition published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH), Muhlenberg Press, and Fortress Press lack true understanding of Martin Luther.  General Editor Jaroslav Pelikan for Concordia Publishing House chose to even leave the Lutheran Church.  Beware, beware of those who call themselves Lutheran teachers "but inwardly they are ravening wolves", Matt. 7:15.

But all true Christians understand Luther – some more, some less – for their faith is the same as his.

Back To Luther! 
 and those who brought him to our day: C.F.W. Walther and Franz Pieper!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waltherthe expert on Formula of Concord

     With a few exceptions, today's external Lutheran Church bodies ignore Walther and Pieper.  But it was C.F.W. Walther who pulled the Formula of Concord out of virtual extinction and wrote his book Der Concordienformel: Kern Und Stern, (Formula of Concord: Seed and Star) which provided the old (German) Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference with true church history and brought doctrinal understanding of their heritage and life.
     Walther describes the utter doctrinal chaos that developed after Martin Luther died, and how Martin Chemnitz and others brought true unity with pure doctrinal clarity in the next confessional writing – the Formula of Concord. This shows that Luther, as one man, could hold the Lutheran churches to the pure doctrine, even when there were teachers around him who secretly (or openly) held to errors.  Another example of this was in the 20th Century when the one man Franz Pieper held the flagship Missouri Synod to the pure doctrine.  His Brief Statement of 1932 is his legacy in today's church bodies.
     What?...  you say you can't find or buy Walther's book?  Well, it is available in German on Amazon here, but there is no English translation of it yet that I know of. (Send me a message if you want the German text).   It is best to read the Formula of Concord online for free here and here or in McCain's Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Readers Edition of the Book of Concord.  I applaud the effort of Editor McCain to "encourage lay reading of the Confessions". A great resource from the old Missouri is Friedrich Bente's exhaustive Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions, also available free in Kindle or other formats. (Unfortunately the great old Concordia Triglotta book (3 languages - German, Latin, English) is no longer available (except on CD or used), not even from Northwestern Publishing House.)
     Since Walther's book is not available in English, Franz Pieper, in his Christian Dogmatics series of volumes, refers to the Formula of Concord (FoC) numerous times. These references are not listed in the published Index volume so I am publishing an index to just volume I here because they are too numerous for all 3 volumes::
Volume I
page 33, note 52: universal grace (gratia universalis) and grace alone (sola gratia)
page 94-95, 176-177, 576-577: crux theologorum - solution to the question "why one and not another?" leads to denial of universal grace or grace alone
page 126: warning against free will in man's conversion; page 132, 204: no new doctrines in Christianity
page 149: warning against subjectivism
page 158: Formula of Concord characterized as "old Protestant dogmatics" by modern theologians
page 181: moderns appeal to fact the Formula of Concord contains no article on inspiration of Scripture
page 332: FoC and the antilegomena
page 355: Article XI of the FoC on doctrine of Election not in controversy at it's writing
page 445: Triune God Himself mystically dwells in the believers
page 450-451, 491, 534: foreknowledge of God foresees evil too but not that it is His will that it happens
page 530-531, 541: definition of the Law of God; no human can expain sin but only Scripture
page 548, 549, 551: distinction of creature of God and original sin – deep corruption of human nature
page 574: all who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark of longing for divine grace and eternal salvation can and should know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness

     Today the authors Robert Kolb and Paul McCain also want to be the ones that Lutherans turn to with their own books giving historical context, critical apparatus, explanations and study guides of the Formula of Concord and the Book of Concord.  But do they give C.F.W. Walther the credit for uncovering the beauty of this confessional writing?  Kolb certainly does not.
     Paul McCain does quote Walther in his description of his editions of the Confessions.  What a joke that McCain couldn't use the Kolb/Wengert translation of the Book of Concord, a unionistic edition from "two different Lutheran denominations".  Could it be that McCain really wanted to use Kolb-Wengert Edition although he didn't want to pay the price?  McCain reveals his unionistic viewpoint in his review on Amazon of the book The Pastoral Luther: Essays on Martin Luther's Practical Theology by Timothy Wengert. He states the following:
I would recommend this book as a helpful collection of articles that shed further light on this always fascinating figure in the history of Western civilization, and for those of us who bear his name as our identity as Christians, the book is particularly of value.
It is always a bit sad though to realize while the academic study of Luther is of concern and interest to scholars, the actual, living teaching and preaching of Luther has been muted and distorted by the major Western liberal mainline Lutheran churches today which continue to stray from historic Lutheranism, ...  Perhaps this book will be helpful in offering necessary course corrections.
How is it that Rev. McCain can say that teachers in the straying liberal churches (such as ELCA) can be helpful or shed further light or offer necessary course corrections??...  pure unionistic double talk!

"A unionist cannot be trusted."  - Paul Gerhardt

     The books of McCain and Kolb can be read but with great care.  It was reported that even Walther recommended books by rationalists but excused the recommendation "with the somewhat caustic remark that we are permitted to make use of the works of rationalistic authors even as the Israelites were instructed to make use of the Canaanites as hewers of wood and carriers of water." Joshua 9:21 (Dr. Francis Pieper: A Biographical Sketch, page 7)

     But I do know that McCain and Kolb are teachers in today's new English LC-MS.  And I do know that their Synod allows doubt on the Gospel itself.  They may protest loudly against my charge... but let them protest loudly against the statement of their fore-bearer Prof. Theodore Graebner when he publicly stated in an article in the American Lutheran periodical in 1939:
One of the statements in the A.L.C. declaration has been criticized as hiding a denial of objective justificationwhen 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.
Let them protest this clear statement of confusion on the Doctrine of Justification... and of the founding of the new English LC-MS!
     No!  Today's teachers cannot bring the truest picture of the history of the Lutheran Church.  You must go back... 
  • back to Pieper, 
  • back to Walther, 
  • Back To Luther!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Newsweek: Forget The Church, Follow Jesus, Christianity In Crisis

An article in a recent Newsweek Magazine issue by Andrew Sullivan (here) decries the state of "Christianity" today.  It is the usual worldly view of Christianity and Mr. Sullivan goes out of his way to cut off any real basis for Christians by the following statement:
Others defend a rigid biblical literalism, adamantly wishing away a century and a half of scholarship that has clearly shown that the canonized Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ ministry, and are copies of copies of stories told by those with fallible memory. Still others insist that the earth is merely 6,000 years old—something we now know by the light of reason and science is simply untrue.
His "scholarship" and reason and "science" have all proven the Scriptures to be "fallible" and "untrue" in at least some portions.  Unfortunately today's external church bodies have largely fallen for these onslaughts... and fallen away from the Bible.  The sad thing is that Mr.  Sullivan could be a pastor in any number of the external churches for they have fallen so far..

But I will thank Mr. Sullivan for at least mentioning those who "adamantly" believe the Bible.  They are the Christians and the real "church" spoken of in the Bible and don't need Newsweek Magazine for any guidance in their faith.

Rather Christians should look to Franz Pieper when he said (Christian Dogmatics, vol. I, pg 157):
The Christian Church of our day dare not forget that the modern theologians who draw their teaching from their own consciousness instead of from Scripture are deadly enemies, who aim to dislodge the Christian Church from its position on the Word and thus from the foundation of its faith. 
There was an external church body which defended the Bible against all attacks by reason or so-called "scholarship" and "science"... it was the old (German) Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thunderbolt in Church History – Pieper's warning to CSL professors

There is an anecdotal account of a faculty meeting at Concordia Seminary in about the year 1930.  This report comes by way of Joel Pless, currently Associate Professor of Theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College.  He published a senior church history paper in 1986 entitled Cancer At Concordia: An examination of how the historical-critical method of Biblical interpretation was introduced to the classroom teaching at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, and what were the subsequent effects. (It wish this were online here, it should be.) [Update 3/26/2013 - It is online now.  For another version of the anecdote, see Curtis Jahn's essay, page 3; 2018-01-16: link updated]
I quote from pages 16-17:
The participation of some St. Louis faculty members in fellowship talks with the old ALC produced much consternation and dissention, both within the faculty and among some of the ministerium of the Missouri Synod. Already before these fellowship talks began in 1935, there were rumblings of dissention within the St. Louis faculty. Retired Wisconsin Synod pastor Rev. A.T. Kretzmann tells of a story during his seminary years (1929-1931) at St. Louis when his uncle, Professor Paul E. Kretzmann came home deeply disturbed one evening. When his wife asked what was wrong, Professor Kretzmann told of the events of a faculty meeting held that afternoon.  During the meeting Seminary president Franz Pieper announced after examining the faculty's printed classnotes that everyone of the professors at St. Louis was in some way deviating from the Word of God, with the exception of himself and Paul Kretzmann.  (Theodore Graebner apparently became so angry at these accusations that he stormed out of the room!) 
The source for the above story was from an interview with Rev. A.T. Kretzmann in his home on Wednesday afternoon, April 2, 1986.  Rev. Kretzmann was a nephew of Prof. Paul E. Kretzmann. Joel Pless goes on to another report concerning who were likely involved:
It is interesting to note who were some of the men on the St. Louis faculty at this time: Theodore Graebner, John Fritz, J.T. Mueller, William Arndt, Walter A. Maier, W. Gustav Polack [William G. Polack], Theodore Engelder, Theodore Laetsch.
The source for this material was from a letter of Paul E. Kretzmann to Rev. Paul Burgdorf, February 19, 1940.  A posting by President Matthew Harrison in his blog about a year ago showed also Ludwig Fuerbringer and Richard W. Heintze in this listing. Another census posting [2018-01-16: link updated] adds to this Martin S. Sommer but has many transcription errors.
Added 1/13/2013:  Here is a photograph taken in February 1927 of the faculty – from page 83 of Der Lutheraner of that year:

This "inside story" of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis shows a major milestone in all of Church History.  For it shows that Franz Pieper, the 20th Century Luther, was not unaware of the trouble brewing there.

I compare Pieper's warning to the St. Louis faculty with:
  • his last words to the Missouri Synod before he died: "May the dear Missouri Synod never forget that it's chief God given calling is to carry into all the world the testimony of the Sola Gratia – salvation by grace alone!"
  • his admonition to them in his last words to study the Brief Statement of 1932 (his Theses) for they "would be a good schooling for all of them."
  • his warning to the Norwegian Synod saying "Nein, Nein, no, no!" to the merger of the Norwegian Synod with other American Lutheran church bodies which denied the doctrine of Election of Grace, not in view of our faith.
  • Luther's warnings and worry over the signs of weakness in his associates like Melanchthon 
Some people may be surprised at Pieper's warning to the faculty of Concordia Seminary, even in 1930, the year before his death.  I am not very surprised for I have scoured the writings of his associates and found them wanting in regards to the Doctrine of Justification.
Paul E. Kretzmann
What does surprise me is that he excluded Paul Kretzmann. Why? Because I had to search long and hard as I read his publications to find the true teaching on Universal, Objective Justification.  When I finally found it, I rejoiced but thought he should have taught it more forcefully.
Theodore Engelder & J.T. Mueller
I was surprised that Pieper's warning could have also been made to the above professors.  If they were indeed warned, I believe they took it to heart and inquired of Dr. Pieper to show them their fault.
Theodore Graebner
My previous comments (here and here) concerning Professor Graebner are confirmed by this report. Here Graebner was being chastised when many considered him "conservative" and "orthodox"!  How he chafed at the collar.  But how sad Siegbert Becker was at the downfall of Graebner as he left the LCMS to join the WELS and publish beautiful defenses of UOJ (here and here) and why he had to leave the LCMS here [2019-01-23: link updated].

Pieper's warning carries through the Twentieth Century even to now.  It is as fresh now as the moment he delivered it. For a deviation from the Word of God is a very serious matter.  Dear Christians of today, this is no small warning from Franz Pieper, for all Christianity is in the balance!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"There aren't many people doing Luther right now"– Robert Kolb, Prof. Emeritus

The above quote was taken from a video published by Concordia Journal Currents here at about the 1:30 mark which discusses his new book Luther and the Stories of God.  He implies that he is one of those "doing Luther", but more than that, he would say that he is trying to rectify this situation with his writings and talks.

The LCMS scholars have also hit on the idea that maybe if they concentrate on "doing" the Formula of Concord and the Book of Concord, the basic Lutheran confessions, that they can make the LCMS look more Lutheran, even if they ignore its founder Walther and teacher Pieper.

Robert Kolb is considered by some as a great scholar on Luther and the Lutheran Confessions. In the video,  Erik Herrmann (Assistant Professor of Historical Theology, Concordia Seminary) describes Prof. Kolb as
one of the most prolific and well-respected Reformation and Luther scholars today.
I would heartily agree with Prof. Kolb's statement that there aren't many people "doing" Luther today, but I have to say that he is in part the cause of the turning away from Luther.  How so?  Read on.

I am quite sure that Prof. Kolb is a master of all the languages involved: German, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, etc.  I know his use of the German language is quite good for he even teaches part-time in Germany.  I have not read Prof. Kolb's books.  If I had the time, I would perhaps, but I'll leave them to today's "scholars" and "theologians". (Here's a project for you, Prof. Kolb – translate Margaritha's book into English and publish it.)

So why do I accuse Kolb of being part of the cause of the lack of interest in Luther?  He is part of the LCMS, which condemns Luther for his writings against the Jews.  Kolb himself raises the specter of the so-called Holocaust in a video with a German professor (here at the 3:53 mark), a subject which immediately causes all of today's Lutherans to question Luther.  After all, did not Julius Streicher call on Luther in the witness stand at Nuremburg before he was executed for crimes against humanity?  O well, Kolb and Uwe Siemon-Netto would try to back-pedal on this notion by trying to put Luther into "historical context". They have a great associate in Germany, Professor Dr. Thomas Kaufmann of Goettingen University, who also tries to put Luther into "historical context". But it's not enough.

There are weak Lutheran / Christian bloggers today who agonize over this... who are caused to question all of Luther's teaching because of this accusation! (I was one of those.) O, these bloggers will do their best to skirt this issue... maybe throw out a note of sympathy for today's Jews then try to go on to Luther's other teaching.....    The reality is that all weak Christians should read Luther's On The Jews And Their Lies because it builds the Christian faith!  They should read Vom Schem Hamphoras because it builds the Christian faith!  (Oh, that's right, this work is not generally available... it's untouchable! CPH, how about it?) Professor Kolb, these weak Christians should look past your so-called Luther scholarship and look to Luther!  These writings of Luther should have been what you recommended to the Crossings Community (definitely weak Christians) when delivering your presentation "Discipleship in the Lutheran Tradition".  The old (German) Missouri Synod spoke like Luther.  Pieper corrects Henry Ford when he called Christianity an "Anglo-Saxon" religion in his writings against the Jews, saying it is rather a religion of "faith in the Gospel".

Prof. Kolb, do you know who are the real Luther scholars of today?  C.F.W. Walther and Franz Pieper.  Of course I'm being facetious here because I know that you know Walther and Pieper.  But on the face of it, you are ignoring these scholars.  Why?  Is it because their theology doesn't quite resonate with you and your research... and your LCMS Synod?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Little historians" and the Brief Statement of 1932; Ludwig Fuerbringer

As I was just googling the term "Brief Statement of 1932", I ran across an essay [archived; see here, herehere for 1961 CTM essay] on it's historical context that was authored in 1961 by C.S. Meyer, the "church historian" for the new English LC-MS.  It was published in the periodical Concordia Theological Monthly (CTM, vol. 32). On page 406, Mr. Meyer said this:
In 1932 recognition was taken of the labors of the late F. Pieper, F. Bente, and George Mezger. Another generation had passed; another epoch in the history of the Missouri Synod had come to a close.  F. Pfotenhauer served one more term as President of the church body; in 1935 he became "Honorary President." But L. Fuerbringer remained active for almost another decade, a fact that protests against little historians making too pat periodizations of history.
Mr. Meyer, writing in 1961, would definitely call me a "little historian" for I have clearly periodized (actually separated) the history of the Missouri Synod.  But who is he referring to as "little historians" in his day?  Answer: All those who recognized the downfall of the old (German) Missouri Synod and ended fellowship with the new (English) LCMS... and C.S. Meyer.

All true church historians should bear this label "little historians" gladly.

Carl Meyer refers to Ludwig Fuerbringer, the successor to Franz Pieper as President of Concordia Seminary - St. Louis.  He implies that Ludwig should be counted with the old Missouri Synod, with the likes of Pieper, Bente, Mezger, and Pfotenhauer. But what about the theologian Ludwig Fuerbringer? You can find his bio info here at Concordia Historical Institute.  You can see a list of books he authored here. I recall devouring his book 80 Eventful Years: Reminiscences of Ludwig Ernest Fuerbringer to find a sign of life, a sign that he recognized the true strength of Missouri in its doctrine of justification.  I made a copy of the entire book so I could study it carefully.  A picture of Fuerbringer is included on a front page which follows:
Ludwig Ernst Fuerbringer
The man under whom the LCMS turned from "a living knowledge of the doctrine of  Justification". (Pieper II, 555)
The caption above that I have put under his picture is harsh, I admit, but it is what I wrote back in 1999.  He was considered a congenial person.  He co-authored the Concordia Cyclopedia with Theodore Engelder and Paul Kretzmann, a helpful reference book in many cases. He reminisced of the days and men of the old (German) Missouri Synod. C.F.W. Walther encouraged him as a youth to enter the seminary and not be a medical doctor (page 67-68, 80 Eventful Years). O, but it was a very heavy weight that was put on his shoulders as he was elected to follow Franz Pieper as his successor to the office of President of Concordia Seminary! I have stated elsewhere my wish that it should have been Theodore Engelder instead.

On my original web site, I mentioned Fuerbringer's name and his book but I left it blank as to what I would say about him.  After I ran across his writing this year of the article Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian, I was favorably struck by it and decided to publish it because it far surpassed the more official biography of Pieper by Theodore Graebner.  Prof. Fuerbringer admitted that he
perused Pieper's dogmatics when each volume appeared after the other to make from beginning to end word-by-word with the pencil in the hand in order to make notes carefully to myself with the greatest interest and benefit.
Elsewhere in the same article he said:
Pieper was always vigorously for the principle that anyone who is clear in doctrine, can and must also clearly explain this doctrine; that Christian doctrine is not only the property of scholars, but Christians, and that in order to understand the truth, one must stand in the truth
Ludwig Fuerbringer actually came close to doing justice to Franz Pieper.  This is Ludwig's strength... and his weakness.  I will call Ludwig Fuerbringer a "little historian", not in the sneering sense of C.S. Meyer, but in a positive sense for his historical theology is weak, but still useful.  But I will call Franz Pieper The 20th Century Luther!

Friday, April 13, 2012

More on McCain's Rebuke – Walther speaks to me (Part 2)

To add to my previous post responding to Paul McCain's comment, I decided to pull out Walther's book The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel for some comfort and counsel, and came upon some of his theses that were appropriate to McCain's Rebuke.

When Rev. McCain says "Repent and return to Christ" and refers to my blog posts, he is saying that I'm apart from Christ, essentially a damned person and salvation is denied to me.

But Walther says:
Thesis V:
The first manner of confounding Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized — and the grossest. ... the Gospel turned into a doctrine of meritorious works, while at the same time those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized, as is done by the papists.
Now it is hard for me to think of Rev. McCain as a "papist", but why does the shoe fit so well?

But Walther says:
Thesis XX: 
In the sixteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a person’s salvation is made to depend on his association with the visible orthodox Church and when salvation is denied to every person who errs in any article of faith.
What would make Rev. McCain happy is that I would re-join an "orthodox" LCMS congregation ("orthodox" per Matthew Harrison) and retract my blog post charges against his LCMS/CPH.  Now he may find some aspects of this that are not appropriate to Walther's point, but the point still sticks. Under Thesis XX, pgs 334 & 335) Walther says:
Being built upon Christ does not mean connecting oneself mechanically with the Church, but putting one's confidence in Christ and hoping to obtain righteousness and salvation from Him alone.... no one is a member of the Church who is without a living faith. (i.e. believes)
Let the reader judge between me and CPH Publisher Rev. Paul T. McCain.  Perhaps McCain should also read Walther instead of just publishing him.

C.F.W. Walther – The American Luther!

No!  I have a knife in Satan's throat with the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ), a knife that is called the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! (Eph 6:17)  I am fighting for all of Christianity here... let the world scoff at my claim!  It is God's Grace that I am defending, Grace that is full and free for all!  God is my Witness and my Judge on this. IT IS WRITTEN (Ephesians 2:8-9):
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
I used the following exchange with another pastor who defended "UOJ" but I had to impress on even him how important it really was.  I will publish that letter soon but here is how I ended:
God did NOT say like Ripley:  “Believe or NOT”!  NO!  He said:  Believe it!  I earnestly desire your salvation!  I sent my beloved Son to take your punishment!  I gave you the receipt by raising Him from the dead!  I am reconciled!  BE YE RECONCILED TO ME!  BELIEVE IT!

"... we have lost our material principle – justification" (ACELC and LCMS)

In the February 27, 2012 issue of Herman Otten's Christian News, there was an article by Rev. Clint K. Poppe about the "problems as we saw them in our beloved Synod."  The "we" he is referring to is Pastor Richard Bolland and himself; the "Synod" is the LCMS.  The good pastor Poppe identifies the background for starting the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (ACELC) to combat these "problems".  But what are these problems?  Here is his explanation:
In summary, we discussed the specifics of what we saw as divisions in the church; pastors being driven out of their congregations, revivalistic worship practices, law driven mission efforts, open Communion, unionism, and a general disdain for pure doctrine... Then I made a comment that struck a cord with my new found friend.  I simply stated, "It seems to me like we have lost our material principle; justification." Dick's eyes lit up. ... A movement had begun.
Not only did Dick's eyes light up, but also mine.  Here was a sign of life in the LCMS! Yes! that is it! You have identified the problem, the heart of the Gospel has been compromised.  Get this right and you will have returned to the old (German) Missouri Synod. Unfortunately Pastor Poppe's article later showed the deep trouble he and his associates are in for they are in today's LCMS which is as stubborn as ever since the days of Theodore Graebner.  In the article above, it also states the following about their hopes for President Matthew Harrison:
...he has been consumed with administration and structure. We long for the day when his focus will be more and more doctrine and practice and less and less structure and bylaws. The problems in our beloved synod are theological and not political. 
How sad I was to read this.  If only President Harrison would take to heart what he started by bringing the "Fathers"... to the fore again.  He should read my post on what he should do starting with the doctrine that Pastor Poppe has identified as the root of the problem - Justification.  Harrison seems to have moved on from this by emphasizing Mercy, Love, and How We Should Live.  I must now present to President Harrison a quote of Luther as counsel for him:
Damned is that love at the expense of doctrine!
What doctrine?  The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification!
Note to President Matthew Harrison:  I think the German theologian that Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer spoke about corresponding with in 1924 in his article Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian was Hermann Sasse!  Even if not, the strengths that Sasse had were from the the towering confessional Lutherans in America called "The Missouri Synod"!

Pieper always looked for signs of life (of Christianity) in his opponents in Germany, other Lutheran bodies in America, and even the Reformed. How he rejoiced when he found it! Like Pieper, I too look for signs of life... in the LCMS.  I also look for signs of life in those church bodies that were in fellowship with them and those who left them for doctrinal reasons: the WELS, ELS, CoLC, OLC/LCR, CLC, ELCR, ULMA and any Lutheran church body that claims the Brief Statement of 1932.  I read the papers presented at the Emmaus Conference sponsored by ELS pastors where there have been meetings among the former Synodical Conference members.  I hope that the ELS would take the lead by going back to its rich heritage of boldly proclaiming and defending the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification that its fathers so faithfully proclaimed.  Then maybe Matthew Harrison will realize what really is important for his Synod and give the ACELC some hope!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Art to appreciate... with a message

In the 1990s, as the Lord was strengthening my faith through readings of Pieper and Luther, I put together this montage of pictures with captions illustrating what I was learning.  Today I decided to pull this off my desk panel where it was taped for more than 10 years to share it with the world. You may need to click on the image to enlarge it so the captions are more readable.
God's Word and Luther's Doctrine Pure Shall to Eternity Endure.
The reader will note that The Twentieth Century Luther, that is Franz Pieper, brought Martin Luther so wonderfully to life for me as the Reformer of the Church. (See also Matthew Harrison's YouTube video showing this same art at about the 1 minute mark.)
Soli Deo Gloria – SDG

“Ich glaube, darum rede ich” – I believe, therefore I speak

I am interrupting my previous series on the early and later Luther to respond to the following comment that arrived by email notice:
If you are not attending the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, all these blog posts are useless to you, and for you.
Repent and return to Christ.
This comment left by CPH Publisher Rev. Paul T. McCain on my last post was a sobering one. I wish he had not made me look like Luther... for it was Luther who stood before the whole
“Church”, yes, the World of his time and stood against them and with Scripture.  I will not pretend to be Luther, but I do say BACK TO LUTHER!

  • Here I sit!... in my chair having the Kingdom of Heaven poured into my heart by Walther!
  • Here I sit!... at the feet of Martin Luther, the angel with the everlasting Gospel! Rev. 14:6,7!
  • Here I sit!... I can do no other for Scripture hems me in by the Word of His Grace! (Acts 14:3, 20:32)
  • Here I sit!... having traveled thousands of miles in search of a church body/congregation that stands on the Doctrine of Justification... to no avail!  How horrible these times are that there are no external church bodies confessing the true faith, and guarding against all doubt on the Gospel itself... a church body that gives Universal, Objective Justification front and center priority and thereby able to teach all doctrines properly, including those in the Book of Concord/Formula of Concord!  And I hold your church body, the new (English) LCMS, largely responsible for this sad state of all external Christianity in the world!
Rev. McCain knows by my masthead that I was born into the LC-MS and so he knows that I was baptized as an infant. He knows that Baptism is a Sacrament – a visible sign of the Word.  But he ignores this and so what he means by his phrase “not attending the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament” is that I am not receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Why is he emphasizing Holy Communion?  Because he knows I’m getting the Word of God by reading and inwardly digesting the Bible, the very Word of God. He is implying that without the Sacrament of Holy Communion, I am apart from Christ and should “Repent and return to Christ”.   To this I quote Pieper:
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.

Ich glaube, darum rede ich” – I believe, therefore I speak (Psalm 116: 10)
These words in German were used by Franz Pieper as the published first draft leading up to his Brief Statement of 1932.

Rev. McCain implies that I should “attend”, but does he say I should believe?  Should I believe the Word, Rev. McCain?  Do you, Rev. McCain, believe that when absolution is pronounced, its effectiveness is not dependent on the faith of those receiving it? I hope you do... but it is only a hope for I do not see you joining with my confession and saying “You are right! There is a Justification that exists before faith."

You may be surprised Rev. McCain that even the translator of Walther’s “Law and Gospel”, Rev. Christian C. Tiews, has asked Herman Otten about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to point him “to some of his documents or books, which contain unorthodox statements?’” (CN, March 26, 2012, pg 15)  Could it be that Rev. Tiews got a little too much of Walther?... here he is questioning Bonhoeffer with all the glowing publications sold by CPH about and by Bonhoeffer... what?  Tsk, Tsk.  Too much Walther.

Note to Rev. Christian C. Tiews: The answer to your question can be found in Bonhoeffer's teaching of "costly grace"...  but grace has no cost, its free.  Start preaching Justification– Universal, Objective –  that Walther taught and founded the true Missouri Synod on... they’ll throw you out! Listen to Walther when he says:

Yes, there are not a few Lutherans who think that doctrine [universal justification] should be treated very lightly lest the hearers become too secure.
Listen to Walther, Rev. Tiews, not Herman Otten or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or today's (English) LCMS!

The Word of the Lord comforts me in times like these for he says in
  • 1 Kings 19:11 -12: And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
  • Romans 10:10: For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds – C.F.W. Walther

I believe, therefore I speak! (Ich glaube, darum rede ich!)

Rev. McCain, you have given me so much to talk about that I can hardly contain myself. I wear your reproach gladly.  I will continue to speak (blog post) because I believe and for as long as I believe!  More in a later post...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Luther's early faith = later Luther --> another angel having everlasting gospel

Most theologians, scholars and commentators prefer the early Luther to the later Luther because his comments against the Jews (and the Papacy) were not as harsh. They generally point to Luther's irenic stance towards the Jews in his early writings in contrast to his harsh comments in his later life. Most modern theologians fall into this camp.  The editor Franklin Sherman of volume 47 of Luther's Works, (Fortress Press, 1971), had this to say:
(Introduction, page x) It is the treatise On the Jews and Their Lies, published in 1543, of which Luther’s biographer Roland H. Bainton remarked: “One could wish that Luther had died before ever this tract was written.”
(page 123) The negative attitudes expressed in these late treatises struck ... us, in view of the fact that earlier in his career he had shown marked sympathy toward the Jews. 
Franklin Sherman and Roland Bainton have in view Luther's earlier writing of That Jesus Christ Was Born A Jew and it's tone of sympathy for the Jews.

Uwe Siemon-Netto, speaking for the (new English) LC-MS, wrote an article in the Lutheran Witness magazine, April 2004 issue, saying this:
Ah, if only Luther had let the matter rest there. Alas,we can’t get away from the bitter truth that toward the end of his life—well after the adoption of the Augsburg Confession in 1530, which is where the film "Luther" ends—the reformer changed his tune radically. In 1543, three years before his death, he penned his venomous book, Of the Jews and Their Lies, whose contents Lutherans ignored for centuries but came to haunt them in the aftermath of World War II and to this very day. [underling mine]
And there are even some Jewish writers who would almost commend the early Luther.  Perhaps a good example of this is Professor Nachum Tim Gidal in his book Jews in Germany: From Roman Times to the Weimar Republic, Konemann (June 1998).
...he pleaded for tolerance [for the Jews]... (page 13)
...His campaign against the papacy gave the Jews reason to hope for some understanding toward their faith and for humane treatment in accordance with Luther's Christian principles.... (page 82)
... These were new sentiments [Luther's sympathies] to come from the Christian side, and they could have led to a normalization of the relationship between Christians and Jews. (page 82)
But is it true?  Did Luther's faith change?  Certainly his words had a different tone in terms of how they should be treated.  But the Jews knew then (and now) that Luther's faith did not change.  Again Nachum Tim Gidal says it best (page 82):
...Luther demanded a price from every Jew: the denial of his faith. Luther's Christian charity therefore appeared to the Jews as an attempt at religious bribery by which they might obtain humane treatment. Luther underestimated the strength of the Jews' faith, which even in the face of death and under torture permitted no betrayal of God, of the profession of faith in the uniqueness and oneness of God. 
In all of history since the time of Christ on earth, this was the Jews opportunity to hear again the true Gospel, for it was Martin Luther who had uncovered the pearl of great price from the works righteousness of the papacy...  the announcement of the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake, that even their sins had been paid for and that there is nothing any of us can do to appease God for He is already reconciled with all of us... only believe on the Lamb of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus.  How did Luther do this?  With the Scriptures, the only sure foundation. That is what Luther did masterfully in his writing On The Jews And Their Lies. But sadly the Jews continued their rejection of the Son of God (and the Scriptures) and showed themselves no different than those of the time of the New Testament.  And so the later Luther, whose Christian faith had not changed since the early Luther, had to agree with the Jews that he had "underestimated" the stubbornness of the Jews.

So we see who really follows the Scriptures – the early and later Luther, not modern theologians and commentators. To them, Jesus says (Luke 24:25):
Luke 24:25 - O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken
But the old German Missouri Synod followed Martin Luther who expounded the Old Testament as Jesus said it should be done (Luke 24:26-27):
Luke 24: 26-27 - Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
This was done by Martin Luther. The old German Missouri Synod hailed Luther as the one through whom the angel spoke in Revelations:
Revelation 14:6-7  – And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
Here is how Walther's Der Lutheraner monthly magazine began depicting Martin Luther on it's masthead beginning in 1850:

How different is the view of Luther by today's theologians and scholars from that of the old German Missouri Synod!  A Lutheran today barely hears of Walther and Pieper who knew Martin Luther best... notwithstanding the new English LC-MS "celebration" of Walther's birthday.

I will have more about this subject in a later post.