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Thursday, June 7, 2012

2 out of 7: LC-MS low score on Walther (Part 1 of 7 - Noland)

I ran across last year's issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly (volume 75:3-4, July/October 2011) that supposedly would "honor C.F.W. Walther on this 200th anniversary of his birth", and "so that Walther may be understood in his context and continue to be a blessed voice in our synod as we face the future."  I'm not in the habit of keeping up on current publications emanating from the LC-MS anymore because I know it has become heterodox long ago and it's writings rarely build my Christian faith.  But this issue purports to "honor C.F.W. Walther" so I slogged through it.  And I found that only 2 out of 7 essays actually honor Walther without dishonoring him.  Actually I'm surprised that even two did honor him.  Here is a listing of the articles highlighting the 2 praiseworthy essays:

1) Martin Noland – Walther and the Revival of Confessional Lutheranism
2) Benjamin T.G. Mayes – Grabau Versus Walther: The Use of the Book of Concord in the American Lutheran Debate on Church and Ministry in the Nineteenth Century
3) Cameron A. MacKenzie – C.F.W. Walther's Use of Luther
4) Albert B. Collver – Mission through Witness, Mercy, Life Together in Walther and the First Fathers of Missouri
5) Roland F. Ziegler – Eduard Preuss and C.F.W. Walther
6) John T. Pless – Wilhelm Löhe: His Voice Still Heard in Walther's Church
7) David P. Scaer – Walther, the Third Use of the Law, and Contemporary Issues

So what about these 7 articles from the great "conservative" Fort Wayne seminary?  I won't review these essays in detail but will point out the position of each towards Walther and his doctrine:

Rev. Noland was formerly a past Director of Concordia Historical Institute from which it has been suggested that he was forced to resign.  He describes himself as a "conservative Lutheran".  But after largely praising Walther for his confessional Lutheranism, he uses the Bethel Confession from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hermann Sasse to confirm Walther's correct position.  This is poor praise indeed since the best German theologians were weak at best!
Then he goes on to make this statement (page 214):
More difficult to answer is the question whether or not Walther was right to uphold the Book of Concord in light of its challenges from ration­alism and modern thought.
Difficult?  Why difficult?  Is there something about "rationalism and modern thought" that has a hold on Rev. Noland?  He further reveals his difficulty in a later statement:
Francis Pieper answered the rationalist problem of certainty by appeal­ing to the doctrine of the testimonium Spiritus Sancti and by asserting that "theology is the perfect science, the only reliable science on earth."  Frankly, these answers of Pieper did not solve the problems posed by rationalism.  Although that defect does not affect the rest of his theology, which is perfectly orthodox, his approach is not persuasive to anyone who has imbibed from the fountains of modern theology or philosophy.
Wow!  Could it be that Rev. Noland is one of those who has "imbibed from the fountains of modern theology or philosophy"?  What does he use to solve the "challenges from rationalism and modern thought"? Here is his answer:
A better way out of Lessing's Ditch is suggested by American philosopher Alvin Goldman, professor of philosophy at Rutgers Univer­sity.  Goldman is a leading proponent of "reliabilism," which posits "degrees of reasonableness" instead of the false dilemma of either certainty or uncertainty.  Also useful is the work of Richard Swinburne, professor of philosophy at Oxford, who has demonstrated that the existence of God is the most "reasonable" explanation for the universe, though it cannot be "proven" by traditional logic or scientific means.
Double wow!  Perhaps Rev. Noland should switch from being a pastor of the Christian faith to being a philosopher of the world for he is not satisfied with the testimony of the Holy Spirit but rather places human wisdom (a Jewish philosopher!) above the Holy Spirit.

So much for Rev. Noland's honoring of C.F.W. Walther.  I am not too surprised because previously I had read of his confusion on the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification.  Beware, Beware! ... of so-called "conservative Lutherans" who take their highest wisdom from the world's wisdom.

= = = = = = = = = = = =
Did any of these 7 essayists praise Walther for his pure teaching of the Gospel... that is Universal, Objective Justification?  No.  Not so the old (German) Missouri Synod who especially by Walther's successor, Franz Pieper, praised Walther to the heavens.  For those who are tired of hearing of only the false teachers on Walther, you can skip to Part 4 and Part 5 of this series for the 2 essayists who in truth praised Walther.

See Part 2 for my comments on the article by Rev. Benjamin T.G. Mayes.

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