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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Justification – Darby Situation (Part 7a – Drickamer)

In the previous Parts 6a and 6b, I published my correspondence with Pastor Rolf Preus in 1997.  (See Part 1 for Table of Contents)  In these next Parts 7a and 7b, I am posting my letters of that time sent to Dr. John Drickamer, another contributor to the Herman Otten's Christian News newspaper who defended the doctrine of Objective Justification.  Dr. Drickamer met an early death about a year or so after my letters to him and I recall thanking God that I had sent these letters to him as I believe they brought him back to a firm faith even if he did not respond directly to me.
Drickamer is noted for the following:
  1. published his translation (and abridgment) of Walther's Pastorale, entitled Pastoral Theology
  2. contributed an essay to the book C.F.W. Walther, The American Luther.  
  3. edited the 4th edition of The Holy Bible - An American Translation (or AAT Bible)
I said that he "defended the doctrine of Objective Justification" but I had some difficulties with his review of Darby's book published in Christian News entitled A Strife About Words – Or Not? And so I decided to write a letter to him:
11/27/97
Dr. John M. Drickhamer
XXX Xxxxxxxx Xx
LAKEVIEW  OR  XXXXX
Dr. Drickhamer:
I just read your article “A Strife About Words – Or Not?” in Christian News, November 24, 1997.
Your review of Larry Darby’s book was different than my response to him.  I have told no one else what that response was except my 2 sons: “Go to hell, Larry Darby”.  You may think that response was too harsh.  I often questioned myself that it was too harsh.  But at the times that I thought I might have to withdraw that sentence, I remembered and found things like:
-> Jesus words to the scribes and Pharisees: “Woe unto you!”
-> Luther to Zwingli: Your's is a different spirit than ours.
-> Pieper on Walther: “This justification pertains to all individuals, or to the whole world. ‘If the question is raised whether or not it is right to say that the whole world has been absolved but not all individual persons, we must reply: Through Christ, God has reconciled with all men and with every individual person.’  (SCR, p. 32)  This doctrine of the general justification of all men before they believe is not a theological construction but a Biblical doctrine.” (CTM, Dec 1955)
You remain with those who at the very least allow doubt on the doctrine (not just the term) of objective/universal justification.
Dr. John Drickhamer- a name I remember very well!  It was your writings in CN that strengthened my weak faith some years ago.  For you spoke of a Gospel to believe in because it was true.  The title of one of your books was “It Is Finished”.  How my faith was kindled and strengthened!  I purchased all of your books.  I even gave one of your books to a prisoner I was visiting to give the Christian message.  But now I see that you received this from one who taught it more clearly than you – Dr. Franz Pieper.  Of all the writers in the world today, I remembered you as one of the few that recommended his Christian Dogmatics.  Strangely, I find few references to this work in recent writings from you.
Larry Darby’s book was a blessing to me as Erasmus (or should I say John Eck) was to Luther.  I knew what God said was true.  But Larry Darby (a man whom I respected highly because of his writings in CN on the issue of women’s ordination) was now directly attacking that trust in God.  I desperately corresponded with Mr. Darby pointing out that he was directly wrong, so much so that the exact opposite was true.  He only defended more strongly his error and that I was in error.
Walther and Pieper were so forceful in teaching this doctrine that it is with amazement that it can even be questioned!  In fact, I would no longer call Walther “Mr. Law and Gospel”.  I would call him “Mr. Universal Justification”!  You might think that is going too far.  He wouldn’t.   He taught the Law and Gospel properly distinguished because he taught Allgemeine Rechtfertigung!  This is clearly brought out in his lectures on Law and Gospel.
I have been spending a large amount of time studying what old Missouri actually taught.  It has been a divine time and a sad time.  Divine in that my faith was strengthened enormously with the writing of Walther, F. Pieper, Reinhold Pieper, Stöckhardt, F. Bente, C.M. Gullerud, S.C. Ylvisaker, J. Buenger, George Schweichert, Theodore Dierks, Wallace McLaughlin, and Siegbert Becker.  Sad in finding the doubts creep in by Theodore Gräbner, J.W. Behnken, Wm Arndt, Theodore Nickel, Walter A. Maier Jr., Wm. Oesch, Paul Burgdorf, Robert Preus, and Herman Otten.  How could I compile such a list?  The Lord says (speaking by the Apostle John in 2 John 1: 10) "If there come any unto you, and BRING NOT THIS DOCTRINE, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:"   It is only the Lord himself that can give any guidance, and only by His Word.  The sad names are ones that did not bring this doctrine.
You may think of me as tending towards “Universalism”.  That does not matter to me.  That is the same charge as that of false teachers (cf. Walther – Convention Essays, CPH, 1981, pg. 106).  For it is on God’s Word that I stand: John 3:16, 2 Cor 5: 18-19.  You are slipping on human reason.  How so?  With the sentence: “I myself prefer ‘objective reconciliation’ if we use ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ at all.”  How could this be a problem for me?  Because it tells me that you (Dr. John Drickhamer) would question me for strongly defending the term “Objective Justification”, just like Dr. Gregory Jackson does in his recent writings.  Now Larry Darby can point to Jackson and Drickhamer as partly justifying his unbelief with your disparagement of “Objective Justification”.  Both you and Jackson may protest this as too harsh.  May it be so! (too harsh)
But you remain in a synod (as far as I know) that allows doubt on this doctrine.  How so?  I will allow Theodore Gräbner to spell it out from his article “Lutheran Union” in the American Lutheran of December 1939:
“One of the statements in the A.L.C. declaration has been criticized as hiding a denial of objective justification – when 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.”
I suspect you know something about the history of the Ohio and Iowa Synods regarding Objective/Universal Justification.  If you do not, they came to deny it by conditioning it on “faith”.  You are in the synod that came to agree with Ohio and Iowa (as shown by 1938 St. Louis resolutions and Gräbner’s quote), and has largely remained in agreement.  Oh, but you might say the LC-MS changed in the early 1970s with the shake-up.  I must grant honorable mention to Dr. J.A.O. Preus, President of the LC-MS.  Imagine my faith when I read his open letter to his brother, Dr. Robert Preus [see documentation here and here] when he questioned him on the teaching of Dr. Walter A. Maier, Jr. on this doctrine. No man has done more for defending Objective Justification in the latter half of the 20th Century in the LC-MS than Dr. J.A.O. Preus with this letter.  But I read some of the writings of Dr. Robert Preus, and find along with his “defense” also some confusion.  He lists Dr. Arndt’s article in CTM, 1943 pp 787-791 defending the ALC’s “God Purposes To Justify Those That Have Come to Faith”.  How Theodore Gräbner cherished this article!  It was Gräbner’s pride and joy for it defended his confusion on this doctrine.
Now I will give you some advice.  Read Dr. Franz Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics again.  Forgive my forwardness in suggesting this to so learned a man.  And I am not saying “learned” in a sneering sense.  But you must understand that there is no text that will spell out more clearly Christian doctrine than this text. Your suggestion to Darby to read a non-Lutheran was rather surprising to me for one who has referred people to F. Pieper in the past.  You wrote an article for a book entitled: “C.F.W. Walther – The American Luther” – a worthy title!  Now I will tell you something.  Franz Pieper – “The Twentieth Century Luther!
Now I will tell you about the danger you are in.  It is the same as I wrote Rolf Preus:
(excerpt of letter to Rolf Preus contained in Part 6b of this series) 
I cannot be as kind to you as I was to Rolf Preus, for I fear there is in you a true slipping on this doctrine, and this doctrine is the heart of Christianity.  You are in worse danger!  And your “slipping” is doubly dangerous for those who would look to you for truth.  I had hoped that I could add John Drickhamer to my list of those who truly defended this doctrine when I first saw your recent CN article before reading it.  Unfortunately! I am farther now than ever from adding it. Darby has gotten you to agree to “oppose any distortion of any Biblical doctrine” with him.  Melancthon got Eck to agree to Justification by Faith also! The effect of your fellowship in today’s LC-MS is evident in the change of your writings from your beginning.
[Signed] Xxx Xxx [BackToLuther]
Indiana
Jeremiah 5:2, 6:14
Although Dr. Drickamer did not respond to me directly, he did respond in the pages of Christian News.  My next post Part 7b is my letter to him after he publicly responded to the above personal letter to him.

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