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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Justification – Darby Situation (Part 9a – Marquart)

In my previous Parts 8a and 8b, I presented correspondence from 1997/1998 with Steve Stranghoener, a defender of Objective Justification, and a layman in an LC-MS congregation.  (See Part 1 for Table of Contents)  Now I will go back to what started this series in Part 1 -- Paul McCain's re-publishing of Prof. Kurt Marquart's essay of response for "The Larry Darby Situation".  Again, McCain is offering this as the answer for his LC-MS regarding those Lutherans who are confused on the doctrine of Objective Justification.
Now the reader may notice that in 1997 (in Part 6a) I counted Prof. Marquart as one of those in our times who defends Objective Justification.  Although he has passed away since that time, he is still highly regarded by some who would call themselves "confessional" and "conservative".  I would also say that Steve Stranghoener also looked forward to this essay to bolster him and his pastor (Pastor William Bischoff) in their defense of this doctrine.  I believe Pastor Bischoff may have been a pastor in the LCR at one time but went back to the LC-MS.  So many eyes were turned to Prof. Marquart as he now presented his response for Pastor Bischoff to address "The Larry Darby Situation".

I must say I was a bit skeptical of Marquart... for 3 reasons:
  1. He had incorrectly identified the author of the founding essay of the Synodical Conference in 1872 – a beautiful essay on the doctrine of Justification – it was actually C.F.W. Walther.  See my letter to him regarding this important point of Church History.  It  is especially surprising that he made this error since he reveals in this essay that he had "twenty years of teaching dogmatics from Pieper’s volumes".  I was glad to hear he had use Pieper's volumes of Christian Dogmatics, but did he really follow Pieper's teaching?
  2. His disparaging remarks against Franz Pieper and against old Missouri's "impossible rigidities" and "short-sighted legalism" in his book Anatomy of an Explosion: A Theological Analysis of the Missouri Synod Conflict and elsewhere – a throwback to the charges by Theodore Graebner.
  3. His defense of Herman Sasse in the face of Sasse's errors on the doctrine of Scripture itself.
  4. His attempt to minimize the error of fellow faculty member Walter A. Maier Jr. on the doctrine of Objective Justification.  This was done during the height of that controversy
I had conversations with other conservative pastors in the 1990s who were outside the LC-MS and who had some positive things to say about Marquart.  One could not dismiss everything he wrote.  It would seem that in the person of Kurt Marquart was a teacher in the church, like Robert Preus, whom many "conservative", "confessional" Lutherans could go to for true Christian teaching... except perhaps some of those who left the LC-MS.

And so what was Marquart's response to "The Larry Darby Situation"?  What is "Marquart's Legacy"?  Marquart's response was largely publicized by its printing in the February 9, 1998 issue of the newspaper Christian News (copy of article here).  I don't know where else it was published except by those who called him "mentor" such as David Jay Webber, and now Paul T. McCain.

Marquart's essay is quite long to be published in one posting, which makes it difficult to navigate.  Even the first comment on McCain's post noticed the lengthiness.  Another point to be made is that it would have been helpful to hyperlink the footnotes so one could easily jump back and forth from the text reference to each footnote.  I'm sure Pastor McCain is quite capable of doing this.  But I would complement him for the hyperlinks to Bible verse references.  Lastly, McCain has omitted italicized terms which emphasize certain words, an important feature of the original publishing.  McCain should use my copy of the CN article here if he wants to correct his blogpost.

OK, when am I, BackToLuther, going to finally get down to commenting on Marquart's essay?  I've been procrastinating long enough.  Indeed, I have been procrastinating... I've been "sweeping the floor 10 times" –  as one woodworker put it who was about to tackle a most unpleasant task in woodworking. (I am a woodworker.)  Perhaps Paul T. McCain and Herman Otten think they have me trapped, thinking that Marquart's essay will put the whole matter to rest...

...but they would be wrong.  See my next post Part 9b.

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