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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!

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