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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Justification – Darby Situation (Part 8b – Stranghoener)

This continues from the last post Part 8a which published Mr. Stranghoener's final (?) letter to the editor Herman Otten of Christian News newspaper.  (See Part 1 for Table of Contents)  As stated previously, Mr. Stranghoener's letter beautifully explained and defended the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification.  Since there are so few people in the world today who actually proclaim and defend this doctrine (the Gospel), I had to write to him:
Steven Stranghoener
XXXX Xxxxxx Xxxx Xx
Xxxxxx Xxxx, MO XXXXX
Mr. Stranghoener:
...      I have often thought to find your letter to Herman Otten of last fall in CN and write you.  ...  now I must send you a letter after seeing your letter to Herman Otten in CN 1/12/98.
Larry Darby mentioned in his book of a man who wrote to him that said he was wrong.  Rolf Preus wrote a letter to Herman Otten last year mentioning a man who commented that he had the doctrine right but that his fellowship practice was in question.  And now Dr. Drickamer mentions a man who takes him to task on his article (CN 1/5/98, pg 8) about Darby’s book and the use of certain terms in theological discussion.  I am that man.
     Why have you not perhaps heard of me before?  Because it is to this generation’s great shame that it is not a seminary professor or high church official or a pastor who would stand on the doctrine of Universal Justification and refute all who would cause doubt on it.  It should be the whole body of teachers and leaders in the LC-MS who would rise up with one voice and say: Universal Justification is the heart of Christianity!  Why must it be barely one man who would strongly defend Universal Justification?!  Surely, these are the last days.  (Perhaps you are one of the 7000 -
     You may be surprised now at my response to you.  Your position on this doctrine puts you in the dangerous spot, for you are in fellowship with today’s LC-MS!  And today’s LC-MS only leaves doubt on this doctrine.  And yet, I must confess, your letters of wonderful Christian judgment against Darby, Jackson, and Otten left my heart leaping!
 I think you already know what I am about to tell you, notwithstanding the defense by Dr. Manteufel’s article.
     After Luther burnt the papal bull on December 10, 1520, the Wittenberg University students carried on the rest of the day with stunts to make fun of Rome.  However, Luther was not amused the next morning.  Rather than chastise them for the stunts, he spoke most earnestly of the gravity of the situation.  I will quote Dau’s record of one of Luther’s students of his morning address to the students (Great Renunciation, CPH 1920, pages 295-297):
The burning of the decretals he declared mere child’s play.  No doubt, much that was puerile had been injected into the serious affair of yesterday… Far more necessary than the destruction of printed papal deliverances, he held, was the destruction of the Papal See with all its teachings and abominations.  Freighting every word with a profound conviction, he said to the students: If you do not with all your heart resist the blasphemous rule of the Pope, you cannot be saved.  For the kingdom of the Pope is so utterliy contrary to the kingdom of Christ and to the Christian life that it would be better and safer to live in a desert where you never meet a human being than to dwell in the kingdom of Antichrist. …
Luther sees a fearful danger looming large before all Christians; if they are not exceedingly careful, it will cost them their souls.  That danger is: denying Christ, of which all become guilty who side with the papists.  Whoever submits to their religion and idolatrous worship as practised in the papal church of the day, and is too much of a coward to contradict their virulent errors, must perish forever in the life to come.  But if he does raise his voice against them, he must surely expect to be in peril of his life.  Nevertheless, Luther exclaims:
“I shall rather spend my life in this world in constant danger than load my conscience with guilt by keeping silent; for I would have to render God an account of my silence.  …for it is time we take our reformation seriously.”
…all had felt as if their father had opened his very heart to them.  The chronicler regrets that he is such a clumsy reporter, and lacks the eloquence properly to relate the impressive scene.  But he has made up for any real or imaginary defect by the fervent personal testimony which he appends to his account:
“Not one of us, he says, unless he is more irrational than a stick (as all papists are), doubts that what he said is unalloyed truth.  Moreover, to all simple believers… it is quite plain that Dr. Luther is an angel of the living God, who is to feed the erring sheep with the Word of Truth …”
Today’s LC-MS has in large part returned to Rome. The doubt they allow on this doctrine shows their return to Rome to a large degree.  Dr. Manteufel’s article was surprising to me.  Rolf Preus’ letters of last year to CN (against Darby and Jackson) were a surprise. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who would defend the central article of the Christian faith.  Although Drickamer defends this doctrine, his defense is not the kind I can depend on.  I would much rather depend on your Christian judgment as expressed in your letter to Otten last fall and this January. I see that same judgment in your assessment of your LC-MS district leaders.
    You must understand that the LC-MS long, long ago cast doubt on this doctrine.  How so?  With the 1938 St Louis resolutions and Theodore Graebner’s remarks in the article “Lutheran Union” in the American Lutheran of December 1939, volume 22, page 3796-3797:
“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.”
What does this statement show? It shows that Theodore Graebner did not understand the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification!  It shows that he was beginning all out war on it! The Iowa and Ohio Synods fought against it!   It was C.F.W. Walther, Georg Stöckhardt, F. Bente and Franz Pieper who taught and preached the true peace that passes all understanding – Universal Justification! This was the heart of all of Walther’s teaching! Theodore Graebner, with this comment, sets himself up against the true teaching.  The history of the Missouri Synod (renamed to Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod at Graebner’s wish) is summed up in this one doctrine.  In fact, it is the historical story of the 20th Century.  It was Franz Pieper, the 20th Century Luther, who carried the Missouri Synod until the day he died.  It was the Missouri Synod that fell after his death when they could not consistently defend this doctrine.
     If your path is to continue to testify for the truth, I will send you my work.  I have many megabytes of the original German and machine translations in English of most of Pieper’s convention essays and many other untranslated works.  Also, many of Walther’s unpublished essays have been input into computer files. (Also Bente, R. Pieper and Stöckhardt).   Although there is not much in these that goes farther than what has already been translated and published, yet they are a testimony of how thoroughly Christian was their teaching.  And, yes, the doctrine of Universal Justification is strongly taught and defended.  Also, Mr. Darby had many peers in the professors who attacked Walther and Pieper and their teaching, directly and indirectly.
     My response to Dr. Manteufel will be much more harsh than this one to you.  For his responsibility as a teacher/professor is much greater than yours.   Why should I do this to him after his thorough defense of this doctrine?  Because he remains in today’s LC-MS!
     I could write much more, but I must leave off here.  I beg you to read everything you can from Walther, Pieper, Stöckhardt, and Bente. Not only will your faith be continually strenghthened, you will get true church history.
[Signed] Xxx Xxx [BackToLuther]
“Franz Pieper – 20th Century Luther”
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
     Mr. Stranghoener responded to this letter of mine and gave some history of his congregation and their struggle with the administrators of the LC-MS over this and other doctrines.  They elected to "stay and fight the system from within".  A most saddening point Stranghoener made to me privately at that time was this:
And yes, we've brought this matter to President Barry's attention but he has elected to stay above the fray and leave us to his wolves. 
Dear God!  How you have given the LC-MS great opportunities to be gathered to Thee, but they would not.  Although President Alvin Barry was a "conservative" leader in today's LC-MS, who published a national news release to the world against The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, yet he would not jump into this perfect opportunity to say Yes! to the true teaching of the Gospel – Universal, Objective Justification.  So with great sadness I must say the LC-MS is still the same as in 1938 when they did not discipline Professor Theodore Graebner over this doctrine.
     Current internet research on Mr. Stranghoener seems a bit odd compared to his letter to CN in Part 8a... he has taken to authoring fictional murder mystery books.  He claims to still be a Christian.  I hope so and I hope he is still clinging to the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification because all true Christians believe this – it's what the Bible teaches.
     My next post Part 9 will now come full circle, to the essay by Professor Kurt Marquart that Paul T. McCain published on his cyberbrethren blog of May 24, 2012.

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