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Friday, October 19, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 7a (WELS - John Brug)

This continues the series on Biblical Chronology – Table of Contents in Part 1.  In the last Part 6L, I concluded my review of the criticisms of the modernist, liberal Prof. James Barr against biblical chronology in general and Martin Luther's Chronikon in particular.

In this Part 7a, I start a short series of reviews of various essayists from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the WELS.  In researching the vast information on biblical chronology recorded on the Internet, almost none of which draws on Luther's work, I came across a website with a listing of resource links that included an article by Professor John C. Jeske [archived] of the Wisconsin Synod, or the WELS.  This church body has ties to the original Synodical Conference first formed in 1872 and is considered by some as conservative in it's doctrine and practice.  This caused me to look into various essayists on the website concerning the topic of biblical chronology.

   The first essayist I will review is Prof. John Brug, perhaps the longest serving current faculty member of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.  I recall in past readings that Brug built up my Christian faith and so I had some hope that his writings on biblical chronology would do the same.

John Brug wrote the following essays:
2. Scientific Dating (Carbon Dating)
These first 2 essays deal with Brug dabbling in astronomy and carbon dating, both of which would be considered "scientific", but not based on Scripture.  It appears by these that Brug is fascinated by "science", and trying to synchronize it with the Bible, which does little to build a Christian's faith.  Perhaps Brug is attempting to equip future pastors to defend against the onslaught of "scientific" objections to the Bible, but both of the above essays seem rather more interested in what help "science" can provide.

The third essay of Brug is the following of which I provide quotes and some comments that follow the quotes:
Page 1: One of the most vexing problems of Old Testament chronology is establishing the dates of the reign of Hezekiah. There seem to be irreconcilable differences within the scriptural data concerning this reign, especially when an attempt is made to synchronize this biblical information with dates derived from Assyrian and Egyptian records.
*** Prof. Brug is quite interested in resolving extra-biblical "data" with biblical "data". Why not just read Luther? He might say that Luther did not have the advantage of our modern discoveries of ancient histories, or perhaps modern astronomy or even carbon dating. Will it ever be possible to synchronize secular non-biblical "data" with the absolute truth of the Bible? Luther accepted the authority of the Bible unquestionably. Interestingly, Brug offers a resolution to the "problem" that is the same type as Luther's solution – coregencies. Did he perhaps read Luther's work to get this? He does not say. He goes on to say the following in his conclusion:
Page 7:  This solution [coregencies] is not entirely satisfying since it is based on several assumptions which cannot be proven at the present time. It also requires the acceptance of several improbabilities. However, improbabilities are not impossibilities, especially in extraordinary times.
Why does Brug say that his solution is "not entirely satisfying"?  Is he hinting that he would only be satisfied if his solution of coregencies could be "proven at the present time" by scientific methods?  But his suggested solution is exactly the point that Franz Pieper, Chemnitz, and Luther teach as Pieper so wonderfully wrote of which is in my earlier blog post of Pieper's defense again Objections to Inspiration, Part 2. Pieper quotes Chemnitz who offered "the probable when he could offer nothing certain". Pieper quotes Luther as saying "our faith is above all reason, ..., if the people will not believe, then be silent; for you are not held to compel them to receive Scripture as God's book or Word; it is enough if you give the reason therefor."  Why isn't Brug entirely satisfied with the biblical record?  Chemnitz and Pieper were entirely satisfied.   And so was Martin Luther. Could it be that Professor Brug has a touch of the illness of the great LC-MS which questions Luther and even condemns him?  Could it be that today's modern (English) LC-MS has so poisoned even "conservative" Lutherans into dissatisfaction with Martin Luther and... the Bible?   But dear Prof. Brug, you do at least answer your dissatisfaction with your own followup comment –> "improbabilities are not impossibilities".

As I have said before and will repeat again later: why have today's Lutherans either ignored or forgotten Luther's work of biblical chronology?

In Part 7b, I will review Prof. John C. Jeske's essays on this topic – a much more difficult review.

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