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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Berthold von Schenk – confusion of Christianity (& LC-MS) Part 1 - Intro

Exodus 20:25 –  And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
There have been recent commenters who have attempted to hold up Prof. David P. Scaer [updated link 2018-05-21] as a champion of Objective Justification.  I have already answered that assertion in my blogpost review of his article on C.F.W. Walther and my blogpost "Lukewarm..." recently.  More will be said later.

What adds insult to injury for my Christian faith is Prof. Scaer's comments regarding the "Pioneer of Lutheran Liturgical Renewal", Berthold von Schenk.

Who was Berthold von Schenk?
The most popular post on my blog so far is the one on "Surplice, stole, cassock... but what about the Gospel?", a commentary on some of von Schenk's statements in his autobiography Lively Stone: The Autobiography of Berthold von Schenk.  In that post, the quotes from this book were taken from a report in Christian News because I had not read it yet.  Although I quit reading modern religious writers some time ago, I decided recently to take up this book of Berthold von Schenk's autobiography because Prof. Scaer said the following in his Book Review [updated link 2018-05-18[ (page 377):
As a younger pastor I was fascinated by the autobiographies of pastors, Lutheran or not. This one is "a must" for Missourians, especially for those who are interested in knowing how we evolved as a church body between the 1920s and the 1970s.
I am one of those "interested in knowing how we evolved as a church body between the 1920s and the 1970s".  Why would I be interested in von Schenk's history, a most depressing history where so much of it came after Franz Pieper died in 1931?  Because it started while Pieper was yet living!  Von Schenk had heard and been taught by Professor Pieper personally... and yet he became a proponent of teachings that militated against the Gospel itself, was confused at best on the Doctrine of Justification.  –  Also his history includes some details on how the use of the German language shifted to English in his lifetime.

But another reason to become familiar with von Schenk is because he was modern Lutheranism's spokesmen for the Twentieth Century for he:
  • was received in all of Europe after World War II as an inspector of "German relief work",  having a VIP pass with the U.S. Army
  • had a reputation that "preceded my visits among the theologians and high churchmen" of Germany and Europe (page 111)
  • was "an officer of two German relief organizations", and "received a hero's welcome to standing-room only". 
  • received the ... Grand Cross of Merit (of the German Republic), First Class in 1950 (page 112)
  • preached to great congregations in Germany and Sweden 
  • "received invitations to lecture in universities, most notably from the theological faculty of Marburg ... to Heidelberg, then Lund, Copenhagen, and finally, Tübingen."  He spent a whole morning with Hans Küng ... one of ... "the few true successors of Martin Luther. (page 113)  He met Nathan Söderblom of Sweden
  • had the privilege when reading his doctoral oration of having some of the theological "greats" and professors from other universities present – among these was Rudolf Bultmann
  • was considered the father or "Pioneer" of "Liturgical Renewal" in today's Lutheranism
  • "met so many internationally known figures"
  • was invited to be one of the presenters at a meeting called by "the Holy Father, [Pope] John XXIII" in 1960.  He was one of five "Evangelicals" called and one of two LC-MS participant's in this meeting   (Jaroslav Pelikan was the other).
No, a study of von Schenk will only confirm me in my statement that although Franz Pieper died in 1931, yet it was Pieper who was The Twentieth Century Luther, certainly not von Schenk.

A note of warning:
To any who consider their Christian faith to be weak, the books and writings of Berthold von Schenk and his followers will confuse your faith.  It would be well to first read Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics series to become firmly grounded in your faith.  I might also suggest the Lutheran Confessions, and Walther's The Proper Disctinction Between Law and Gospel (or Law & Gospel).  Then you can begin to see by the light of the true Gospel how von Schenk went horribly astray, even while trying to sound "Christian", "Lutheran", even while he remained in today's (English) LC-MS.

This multi-part series of commentary on Berthold von Schenk will not "resonate" with most in today's (English) LC-MS or today's "Lutheranism".  Rather this commentary is offered for Christians who are bewildered by today's confusion of what Christianity actually is – like I was.  Only when God set me firmly in His Word that spoke of a vicarious satisfaction for all the world's sin, full and free, for all, without any requirement on our part (e.g. Universal, Objective Justification)... only then did I see the horrible landscape of all Christianity, and especially in today's LC-MS.


Public, open questions to Prof. David P. Scaer:
  • Who taught you about Franz Pieper that you should say (Pg 255) "If there ever was a theologian of the gospel, it was Francis Pieper, who never tired of saying that the gospel is a word of God superior to the law." Was it Berthold von Schenk?  No?
  • Who taught you the true Lutheran Doctrine of Election?  Was it Berthold von Schenk?  No?  
  • Why do you say on page 44 "Pieper's impact on the Missouri Synod has been immense" and "his influence both directly on his students and through his dogmatics cannot be overestimated" — when it was Berthold von Schenk (and Jaroslav Pelikan) who was the spokesman to the world from the LC-MS for Pope John XXIII's American meeting between Protestants and Catholics for Vatican II?
  • Why would one of your adherents (an anonymous commenter) state that I "use Objective Justification as a tool to destroy the Church"?  Did he learn that from you?  No?
==>>Then why must Berthold von Schenk be your "good read" without specific warnings from you against his false doctrines?  Could it be that you are also confused on Christianity?  "Imagine that!"


I can thank Pastor Berthold von Schenk for one thing though... he explains more details of why my faith from my youth faltered, faded, and was ultimately lost... the emphasis on "Liturgical Renewal", the demand for Holy Communion at every service (as also Prof. David P. Scaer)... all these were at the expense of the "museum theology" of Walther and Pieper, i.e. the Gospel message.  All these are the cause of why I say in my masthead that I didn't know of these great treasures of the old (German) Missouri Synod in my youth.  Why wasn't Walther and Pieper held up in the teachings of my youth in the 1950s and 1960s?   Because they were largely hidden by today's (English) modern LC-MS!

But I must say that it was not Berthold von Schenk who was at the heart of the downfall of the old Missouri Synod.  Von Schenk would not have gone undisciplined in the true Missouri Synod.  No, I had to go deeper into the Synod... to St. Louis, to the main seminary, to one of the most prominent professors in the Synod after the death of Franz Pieper... to Prof. Theodore Graebner.  For it was Theodore Graebner who was the first to publicly, openly, directly oppose Walther and Pieper in their pure teaching of the Doctrine of Justification - Universal and Objective!  No, Berthold von Schenk was just the fruit of what happens when the pure Doctrine of Justification is confused and surrendered... nothing else matters for all teaching now becomes suspect, "mysterion", "mythos", doubtful...  no matter how much they claim to the contrary.

Berthold von Schenk could have thanked Theodore Graebner for opening the flood gates that would allow him to deviate from the proper distinction of Law and Gospel... that would allow him to go largely unchecked in his imaginations, his "discoveries", his "awakenings", his "experiences", his appearing in all his glory "something like Solomon" (pg 47), his "spiritual measles" (pg 94), his "realizations" (pg 124), his amusement "to tears" over Missouri's "incomplete formula of justification" (pg 94), his "inspirations", his "renewals", his "conclusions'' from the Fathers, his "revival" sermons (pg 123), his "findings" (pg 124), his "insights" (pg 136), his "pioneering" (pg 137), his "obedience" (pg 138), his ...

... confusion of Christianity.

In Part 2 of this series, I begin by presenting 2 early warnings published at the time the book came out.

- - - - - - - - Table of Contents for series on Lively Stone, Berthold von Schenk - - - - - - - 

Part 1 – Introduction; questions for Prof. Scaer
Part 2 – Two earlier warnings
Part 3 – quotes beginning from page 32
Part 4 – quotes beginning from page 78
Part 5 – quotes beginning from page 89
Part 6 – quotes beginning from page 92
Part 7 – quotes beginning from page 102
Part 8 – quotes beginning from page 124
Part 9 – quotes beginning from page 141
Part 10a – von Schenk on Justification (pgs 93-94)
Part 10b – comments on von Schenk, Prof. Scaer

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