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Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther" – Anonymous

I received a comment on my blog post review of Prof. Roland Ziegler's article praising Walther.  However, it seems the comment wasn't about Ziegler, but about my remarks against Prof. Cameron MacKenzie.  Although I have published the comment there, I am publishing it again here in a separate blog post because comments (and replies) may not be so visible to readers of this blog:

Anonymous (of 12/14/2012):

Are you aware that Article One of the Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther? Luther says it is impossible to distinguish between Man's nature and sin. The Formula says that we must, or else Christ did not fully become Man. In the text itself, Andrea and Chemnitz make it clear they are actively disagreeing with Luther on this point. They say, in paraphrase, "Luther said you cannot distinguish, but we must distinguish."

And just so you don't think these were apostates who rejected the true Gospel, Walther required complete subscription to every teaching of the entire Book of Concord, as did Pieper. In other words, both Walther and Pieper unquestionably submitted themselves to the Formula and bound themselves under its authority.

So what will you do? Will you reject Walther and Pieper because they agreed that Luther had fault? Or will you find fault with the Formula because it disagrees with Luther? But if you do that, you're disagreeing with Walther and Pieper!

I'm sure you will find some clever loophole and continue to break the 8th Commandment as often as possible.

Hmmm... my commenter apparently wants to drive a wedge between Luther on the one hand and the Lutheran Confessions/Andrea-Chemnitz/Walther-Pieper on the other hand.  Maybe he wants me to take Luther's "position"... or is it the other way around?  Or is it neither – maybe leave it as an "open question"?

Maybe this: He wants to say that I must leave Luther if I want to claim to be a Confessional Lutheran. 

Or maybe this: Walther and Pieper were wrong to demand unconditional subscription to the Lutheran Confessions?

One thing is clear though – he wants to impress me with his knowledge of the Lutheran Confessions, Luther, Andrea and Chemnitz, Walther and Pieper.  He wants to impress me with his knowledge of theology!  Yes, what a great scholar you are, Mr. Anonymous!

I do thank him in this regard, that he at least allows Walther and Pieper are in agreement.  (But surely he has something up his sleeve on this?)

Surely, Mr. (Reverend? Pastor? Professor? Father? Teacher?) Anonymous, you have many other examples you can share to drive more wedges between Luther, Walther and Pieper – like Prof. Cameron MacKenzie!  Surely you could fill daily a blog of your own for the rest of your life of all the great differences, of all of Luther's weaknesses, of all the many mistakes of Luther (and Walther).

There are plenty of smart-alecks (to borrow Luther's way of speaking) who think they know all there is to know about theology, yes, Lutheran theology. Maybe "Anonymous" has even memorized the Lutheran Confessions... it could be that he has a photographic memory... maybe was a champion player on the "Jeopardy" TV show.  Probably he knows Greek, Hebrew, Latin and German... and who knows what else?  He wants me to get into the ring with him (to borrow a boxing phrase) and let him show just how much theology he knows... how deeply he understands the Lutheran Confessions! ... how little I know about the Lutheran Confessions (and Luther, Andrea, Chemnitz, Lutheran Orthodoxy, etc, etc., etc.)

Yes, Mr. Anonymous, how much you have increased my Christian faith with your comment.  Now I can believe that:
God so loved the world... (John 3:16)
Now I can:
Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

The problem for you is that I do believe these passages.  And God has given me a faith that I am entirely unworthy of!  And I believe that the wedge you try to drive between Luther and the Lutheran Confessions is a figment of your imagination, or could it rather be unbelief?

Now look, see there, Mr. Anonymous is going off in a huff, muttering something sounding like this: "But I quoted him 'chapter and verse' where he [BackToLuther] is wrong ... where Luther was fallible, where Luther made a 'mistake'... can't that stupid layman read?"

Yes, Mr. Anonymous, I can read... and by God's surpassing grace, I can believe Him at His Word:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

(12/21/2012: This post has received a comment that cannot go unnoticed – see my next post of this and response)


  1. It appears that you missed the point. Perhaps if you read Dr. Luther's sermon on John 20:19-31 from March 30, 1529 (LW vol. 69) you would see that your cyber behavior is a 21st century version of the corner preachers (anabaptists) that Luther so strongly condemned.
    You come to your corner, write against contemporary confessional pastors/theologians as if someone has bewitched you. Where is your love or any charity for those who bear the burden of teaching the Church? We might note that Dr. Luther dared to teach the Church because of His doctorate, as he often stated. Drs. MacKenzie and Scaer (etc), whom you so boldly slander, have a doctorate in theology and were appointed to their chairs. Why not bring your concerns to them in person first if you're so convinced of their errors before you cast verbal stones all over the interwebs? At least then you may seem credible to the Church at large but what evidence do you provide us for having ever sought to correct, personally, those you accuse of error?! Luther's advice to the people upon hearing the corner preachers was two-fold. The people were to both inquire as to who called them to come and teach and preach and to ask whether they had brought their concerns to the pastor personally. When the corner preacher could affirm neither Luther said the Christian is not to listen to such men in the slightest manner. So, backtoluther, who called you to teach the Church or do you lurk in your corner breathing poison? Have you showed Christian love and charity by first taking your criticism to the pastors/professors you slander? When and what proof do you have?
    Luther, Walther, and Pieper were not infallible and no confessional Lutheran pastor vows to uphold their private writings as quia but only insofar as they hold to Scripture and the Confessions. Its like listening to the ravings of a 1st year seminary student who had too much to drink at happy hour when you write against the appointed and called doctors of the church for doing what they are called to do in examining the tradition of the American Lutheran fathers. It’s like a little leaguer saying Babe Ruth didn’t know how to hit. Show some respect for your years and wisdom! Repent. Believe the Gospel and stop the sectarian, callous slander. Cease your mockery of the grace of God by using your piety to violate his commandments. I’ll be remembering you privately in my prayers during mass tomorrow. May God grant you a repentant heart and save you from your pride and holiness.

    - Anonymous #2 (aka, not the first guy)

  2. This is that same Mr. Anonymous.

    I see you found your loophole to continue breaking the 8th Commandment. "What?!" You will say. Do you remember a certain post where you vehemently defended your right to anonymity against an ELCA pastor? (and no, Mr. Assumption, I'm not that person).So you defend your right to be anonymous, but if I speak to you in anonymity, then you condemn me for it! Well done. You are who Paul is speaking to in Romans, "In whatever you judge another, you condemn yourself."

    Do you know what I mean by break the 8th commandment? Did you "speak well" of your neighbor and brother and "put the best construction on everything?" Or did you immediately "slander and defame your neighbor"? You even accused me of unbelief because I recommended you read the Lutheran Confessions! That's priceless.

    But you have got me on one point. I did not preach the sweet Gospel to you. I do not preach the Gospel in all its sweetness to secure sinners. To them, I hammer the Law in all its sternness. You are a secure sinner. In what way? You have fallen into the sin of Elijah. You think you are the only orthodox person left alive. But arise, O Man of God, eat the bread of the sacrament, and take comfort in your soul that there are 7,000 who do not bend the knee to Baal.

    But you surpass Elijah, for you stand in Babylon where you make Luther, Walther, and Pieper into your golden Nebuchadnezzars, before whom you bow whenever their music sounds. "What?!" You will say. Yes, for you hold their every private opinion to be infallible and inerrant. You have turned them into your own personal popes. Except not even the Roman Catholics hold every single thing a pope has said to be infallible, only ex cathedra doctrinal statements. (and no, Dr. Assumption, I'm not Roman Catholic). But even in this you miss the mark, for Luther famously said that he wished all his books would be burned and nobody would read anything except the Bible.

    You, sir, are a Donatist and a fanatic who has post mortem perverted godly teachers into your own private Montanism.

    Oh Elijah, arise from your solitude, eat the bread of God, and get you onto the mountain of Christ, which is the Church, and be reconciled to your thousands of brothers who are sinners just like you, clinging to the God who justified the ungodly in the crucifixion of His Son.

  3. This reply serves to answer #1 & #2 separately as well as jointly at times.

    Yes, I'm a Donatist, an "anabaptist", a street corner itinerant... I'm a fanatic, a "little leaguer"... I'm a Montanist... at least to you and your kind. Yes, I surpass Elijah in his sin...

    Yes, I am that "little historian" spoken of by the great LC-MS historian C.S. Meyer. Yes, I'm one of the "small minds" spoken of by Prof. Kurt Marquart in his rebuttal of those who found fault with the Preus brothers (J.A.O and Robert) joining the LC-MS (pg 30).

    #1 attempts to draw in the reader by implying that I called him an unbeliever for recommending the reading of the Lutheran Confessions. He knows I did not say this and his "priceless" polemic shows his weakness.

    #1, you say you hammer the Law in all its sternness to secure sinners. But what Law? If you do not know the true Gospel, i.e. Universal, Objective Justification, then no one, and especially not me, can distinguish it from the Law, because it kills. Even now, I tremble at the Law for I am one small step from falling to my own opinion and falling into unbelief. Indeed, I am so weak, that my only hope is to believe UOJ.

    I will continue to be "bewitched" by the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, i.e. UOJ. I will continue to be too secure (as #2 prays for me) in the true Gospel uncovered by Martin Luther and re-ignited again by C.F.W. Walther, and so beautifully maintained by President Franz Pieper. Yup, I'm bewitched.

    I will continue to think I'm the only Christian in the world... as I find a possible weak Christian faith in President Obama... as I attempted to warn Klug, Manteufel, Drickamer, Rolf Preus of the dangers they were in.

    I do hope that you, #1, preach the true "sweet Gospel" to someone... may it be so! But what is your Gospel? If it is not UOJ, then it is nothing. No one is a Christian, especially not me, who does not believe UOJ.

    Why in the world would anyone leave the LC-MS... like Siegbert Becker? Why would the WELS and ELS finally leave the Synodical Conference? Why would Norman A. Madson Sr. then later leave the ELS? Doctrine, in part – the Doctrine of Justification.

    Time Magazine (12/31/99) called Luther the "Idealogue of the Century". Maybe you could adopt that saying. I will call Martin Luther the angel flying the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel. Rev. 14:6-7

    #1 said: "You think you are the only orthodox person left alive." You got me on that. In a blogpost I stated this to another layman who did strongly defend UOJ:
    "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 ...?!"

    #2 said: "Where is your love or any charity for those who bear the burden of teaching the Church?" Who could deny this burden? But what kind of a burden is it if he is not truly evangelical, i.e. teaches UOJ through every doctrine, every opinion he gives?
    ...expel this "teacher of the Church" [Ritschl] from the Christian Church. – Pieper
    The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds – C.F.W. Walther
    Damned is that love at the expense of doctrine. – Martin Luther

    Is the LC-MS dead? No... just heterodox - see Prof. Ziegler's writing. Why don't you praise my praise of him?

    Walther said the Doctrine of Election cannot be understood w/o Justification – then dismissed the Iowa Synod with "it appears impossible to convince the Iowans even with the most compelling evidences from God’s Word".

    So I will continue to follow my 3 "golden Nebuchadnezzars" –

    Only 2 more comments from the likes of you - none from me. Why? I believe, therefore I speak... Ich glaube, darum rede ich!

  4. "And I believe that the wedge you try to drive between Luther and the Lutheran Confessions is a figment of your imagination, or could it rather be unbelief?" Don't say you didn't accuse me of unbelief. You are a liar. What else did you mean by "unbelief" than unbelief? I highlighted a specific problem with your fanatical way of making every word from Luther worthy of unquestioning subscription. And did you address the actual Article to disprove me? Did you, as Walther says, show me "the most compelling evidence"? No. Why? Because you can't. You stand condemned. So how do you escape your condemnation? You speak like the Devil himself, author of lies and prince of accusations. You take every word and twist it until it accuses the other. This is your continual practice in every post I have read.

    Luther, Walther, and Pieper were wrong sometimes. "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man." The only one whose every word must be unquestionably accepted is God, who is the perfect man Jesus. We accept every word of Scripture as perfect authority because it is the Word of God. We subscribe to the Confessions because [quia] they are an accurate explanation of the Word of God, not because [quia] they themselves are the Word. The order of authoritative writings for us is 1. The Scriptures, 2. The Creeds and The Book of Concord, and 3. Church Fathers. #1 is authoritative because it is nothing except the voice of the Spirit speaking the words of Jesus who is the Word of the Father; it is the Word of God. #2 is authoritative because of its ecumenical acceptance as a true exposition and succinct summary of the true authority that is #1.

    #3 is not authoritative in a quia [because] way but a quatenus [in so far as]. Under #3 go all the Theologians of high rank in the true Invisible Church. This includes such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Cyril of Alexandria, Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Maximus the Confessor, Bede the Venerable, John the Damascene, Bernard of Clairvaux, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Calov, Quenstendt, Glassius, Walther, Weineken, Loehe, Pieper, the Preus brothers, etc. This list is not definitive nor exhaustive nor does it properly distinguish between those who should carry more weight than others in this same group. It is merely an example of the breadth.

  5. #3 is the category where there is disagreement. Among Christians there should be no disagreement about the authority of the Creeds, as among Lutherans there should be none about the authority of the Confessions. But there is necessary debate about the Fathers, both ancient and new. Under #3 goes the spiritual authority every Pastor is burdened with as well. In this third category there are a dizzying amount of distinctions which must be made. But do not mistake that it is truly a category of authority, for this is what is meant by 1st Timothy 5:19, "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses."

    But you have no respect for this authority. This is not an authority of quia subscription as #2 is. This is an authority of respect. You have no respect. Therefore you violate the continued teaching office of the Holy Spirit and treat your freedom as a license for libel.

    For example, you accuse me of unbelief, then say you didn't. Then you accuse me of denying the Atonement, that is, Objective Justification. You have no wisdom and only a zeal without knowledge. In other posts you seem to accuse Dr. Scaer the Elder of denying Universal Justification. Do you even know what he has dedicated decades of his life to teaching? He's fought real battles to preserve this doctrine and been a chief factor in restoring it to prominence at CTSFW. You fight imaginary wars in your vacuum and then accuse those who are actually in classrooms and pulpits teaching people this doctrine of being its enemies. You are an enemy of the Church. You are Saul the Pharisee.

    No one is saying you have to agree with everything taught by the teachers of the Church. But we all have to treat them with respect, even if they're wrong. There are respectful ways to highlight errors made by those in authority. You do not practice any of them. You yourself are not an elder who labors in word and doctrine. If you are, then to what office has the Spirit called you by the Church? You are, by your own admission, a layman. This does not mean you may not have your theological blog, nor does it mean you can't fill it with complaints, but it does mean you need to complain in a way that respects those whom the Spirit has consecrated to the ministry of Christ. Instead, you are Judas. You kiss Christ in order to scatter his Church in darkness.

    Are you even a member of a church? Is any holy enough for you? Or are you one of those Hebrews 10:25 speaks about? We, however, believe, teach, and confess that in this life many hypocrites and evil people are mixed in with any and every church, yet we do not pluck the weeds lest we destroy the good seed along with them. We remain in the churches of our youth even though they are heterodox, precisely because every church is heterodox. The only true orthodox church is the invisible, that is, hidden and not yet revealed Church Triumphant of Heaven. That is called living universal justification, for we behave as if Christ really did justify those who endure in perversity and actively oppose Him and His Church which is the manifestation of His Spirit. You are a Donatist who expects a perfectly holy church in this life, an old school Methodist, a Saul who behaves like Judas. But Christ died for you Judas, and he calls to you, Saul, to cease kicking against the goads. Take you blind eyes to a church where Ananias may restore your sight to see that the body of Christ is nothing except a collection of sinners with errors until the resurrection.


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