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Friday, June 15, 2012

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

This post (Part 7) concludes the series of commentaries on the 7 essays from the 2011 Concordia Theological Quarterly "celebrating" the Bicentennial of the birth of C.F.W. Walther.  See the table of contents for the full listing.

This essay presents the same old grind of "celebrating" Walther's Bicentennial when actually they are an affront to Walther and his teaching.  Let me begin this commentary with quotes of words and phrases that Scaer uses in his essay:
  • "third use of the law"
  • "antinomianism"
  • "Gospel reductionism"
  • "the law's positive aspect" in providing specific guidance in how Christians are to live
  • "ethical matters"
  • "compromise the law"
  • "serious attention ... to defining the law"
  • "the paradise understanding of the law reemerges"
Scaer laments what is going on in the world today and particularly in the ELCA, with its ordination of women and homosexual pastors.  But then he makes a striking statement (page 335):
... the law-gospel paradigm as articulated by Walther ... (did) support these practices.
Scaer essentially blames Walther's teaching of the "law-gospel paradigm" for the ELCA's ordination of women and pastors!  Wow, what a "celebration" of Walther's teaching!
Scaer ends his essay with the following:
(page 341-342) Recent ELCA decisions [homosexuality, women pastors and "contemporary issues"] can be seen as offenses in the light of natural law and specific biblical prohibitions, but ultimately must be seen as offenses against Christ.  Again, this leads to the conclusion that the most significant deficit in Lutheran definitions of the third use of the law is the christological component. Current crises bring up the question whether the gospel is God's last word.  Yes, perhaps in the sense that what Christ has done comes alive in the lives of Christians. Consider these words of Jesus,  "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). That's gospel and the third use altogether.  Now, I am not so sure that the first and third uses of the law produce the same ex­ternal results.  At the end time the first and second uses of the law will pass away and only the third will remain. Maybe this is what Paul meant: "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). 
This writing is a most confusing exposition of Law and Gospel.  Scaer attempts to hide his focus on the Law by pointing out the error of the Reformed which is to use the Law to produce good works.  But he repeatedly goes back to the Law and what he calls its "christological component".  But the Bible clearly says
John 1:17 – For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
As a contrast to Scaer's focus on the Law and ethical matters, here is Franz Pieper's teaching on the use of the Law in his Christian Dogmatics (volume 3, page 237-238):
The Formula of Concord states this truth repeatedly and lucidly. It says: If the Christians had only their new man, "they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God's will; ... But the Christian, considered in concreto, as he exists in this world, is not yet entirely a new man; he still has the old man dwelling in him. And in this respect, according to his old man, the Christian still needs the Law in all its uses, no matter how these uses are divided or designated.  ... Luther answers : "According to the spirit the believer is righteous, without any sin, has need of no law whatever; according to his flesh he still has sin.... There all manner of filth still clings to him, and evil concupiscence, worry about his daily bread, fear of death, avarice, anger, hatred; the filth always remains beside his faith, for him to contend with it and sweep it out. Now, because this is still in us, Scripture in this respect rates us as of a kind with the unrighteous and sinners, so that according to our flesh we need the Law as much as do they." (St. L. IX:881, not in Am. Ed.)
Scaer wants to make a show of the different uses of the Law (or third use of the Law), but not Pieper (or Luther).  Why is that?  It is because he is a teacher of the heterodox LCMS that is hesitant in its teaching of the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification, or the Gospel.  He wants to blame the Gospel for the downfall of the ELCA.  But the real situation is quite the opposite for it was the new (English) LCMS that fell on this central doctrine and so left the predecessors of ELCA (Iowa and Ohio Synods) to fall further from the true Gospel.  And without the true Gospel, they joined hands with the Roman Catholic Church in their "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification".

Scaer dreams that he understands Historical Theology when he says (page 336-337):
...influences flowing from Missouri's Zion on the Missis­sippi could reverse course and flow north into ELCA seminaries. Well, according to Carl E. Braaten, this is what happened, and details are provided in his Because of Christ, Memoirs of a Lutheran Theologian. ...but in Braaten's opinion theological anti­nomianism was at work. "The theology that backed up the 'paradigm shift' at LSTC was antinomian or a close relative."  All this laid on the shoulders of former LCMS clergy who found their way into his church.
This is why today's (English) LCMS wants to be thought of as the true descendant of the old (German) Missouri Synod... so they can blame old Missouri's doctrines for the theological ills of our modern world.  Carl Braaten is correct in blaming the LCMS for the ills in the ELCA, but not for the reason he states.

No!  It is you, modern (English) LCMS, that is largely at fault for the fall of virtually all of external Christianity!  It is you that is at fault, not because of those who walked out of the LC-MS to form Seminex, but because of your loss of the Doctrine of Justification!  Jesus said
Matt 23:37 often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
No!  It was Walther's teaching of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel that upheld true Christian doctrine.  Today's LCMS is lost in its own "law-gospel paradigm".

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