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Monday, February 11, 2013

Berthold von Schenk – confusion, Part 2 (warnings by others)

In the previous Part 1 (10 part series, Table of Contents on Part 1), I introduced Berthold von Schenk and why I decided to take Prof. David P. Scaer's advice and have a "good read" of the autobiography of von Schenk, Lively Stone: The Autobiography of Berthold von Schenk.  The book was edited by C. George Fry and Joel Kurz, both of whom appear to be followers of von Schenk's teachings.  C. George Fry is listed as one of the authors of an article in the CPH book A Contemporary Look at the Formula of Concord edited by Robert Preus.

Before I begin with specific quotes from the autobiography, I must say that I am not the first to point out the false doctrines taught by Berthold von Schenk.  In 1945, von Schenk published a book called The Presence.  Even if today's LC-MS could not discipline him, editors Fry & Kurz point out the following two warnings from others in their Footnote 146 on page 85 regarding von Schenk's book The Presence:
146. ... The Confessional Lutheran labeled him a mystic whose "mysticism centers about a capitalized Altar," and although finding "some beautiful thoughts in this book," the reviewer listed a catalogue of objectionable passages which made the book, as a whole, worthy of rejection. Citing a glowing Episcopalian review which found only "minor points with which an Anglican would disagree..." and dismissing him as Anglo-Catholic and Sacramentarian, The Confessional Lutheran concluded: "If the author knew and accepted that fundamental truth of Scripture [justification], so clearly set forth in the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, he could not have written a book such as this.
It was a certain writer for the publication The Confessional Lutheran (TCL) who cried out against von Schenk's errors.  I wonder that the author was either J. Buenger, George Schweikert, or Theodore Dierks who wrote against von Schenk and based it on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.  All three of these writers were outspoken defenders of Universal, Objective Justification.  Imagine that!  Editors Fry and Kurz present this warning without comment... could it be they are confused on the Doctrine of Justification like their teacher von Schenk?

This TCL writer said Von Schenk's  "mysticism centers about a capitalized Altar".  Could it be that he too had in mind the verse
Exodus 20:25 – 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.
I would like to caution the reader -- the TCL writer evidently said there were "some beautiful thoughts in this book".  I suspect he was referring to Schenk's quotes from the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions noting their "catholicity".  But I would caution against thinking von Schenk's statements are "beautiful thoughts".  Why?  Because of these words of our Saviour:
Matthew 7:18 – A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Why cannot von Schenk's seemingly positive comments from the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions bring forth good fruit?  Because he mixes truths with error to attempt to justify his errors, leaving us to doubt even his "truth".  We can believe that the Bible and the Confessions are true and "catholic" because they are true, and because a defense of them is also "catholic".  This is why all the Lutheran Confessions, including the Apology to the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord, which defend the doctrines of the Bible, are just as "catholic" as the Augsburg Confession.

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There was another warning against Berthold von Schenk.  In the very same footnote, Footnote 146, page 85 is another report by editors Fry & Kurz:
While recommending the book [The Prescence] for its great value and devotional nature, O.G. Malmin (in the Book News Letter of Augsburg Publishing House) found von Schenk's emphasis on liturgy to be "sheer nonsense" and felt he had a tendency toward "exaggerated sacramentarianism." 
Imagine that!  Here was O.G. Malmin, a member of the erring American Lutheran Church or LCA (now ELCA) who had enough Lutheran sense to see the "sheer nonsense", the "exaggerated sacramentarianism" of von Schenk's theology.

But what makes the warning by the TCL writer strike home while this warning by O.G. Malmin is weak?  It is because the writer for The Confessional Lutheran based his warning on... what?
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification
This is where the other American Lutherans who are now gathered into what is known today as the ELCA, and even its descendants such as the NALC, are without an anchor and so any "truth" that they try to grasp slips away from them, in spite of Prof. Scaer's article contention that the fault lies with Walther's "law-gospel paradigm".

The writer in The Confessional Lutheran did not have the advantage that I have in reading von Schenk's later autobiography.  So in Part 3, quotes from the autobiographical book Lively Stones will follow.

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