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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Berthold von Schenk – confusion, Part 4

This continues from Part 3 (10 part series, Table of Contents on Part 1) presenting quotes from the autobiography Lively Stones of Pastor Berthold von Schenk. In Part 4 of this series, I continue from page 78 onward.

In this series, I use the following notations:
  • highlight the questionable portions in yellow
  • the portions with some merit in green
  • and my comments in red text
-------   Quotes from Lively Stones by Berthold von Schenk, comments by BackToLuther   -------
Pg 78:  On Sunday afternoons I heard a Roman Catholic monk in a Franciscan church in South St. Louis-he was one of the greatest preachers I have ever heard; through him I came to understand what it means to preach ad hominem. I also discovered the Reformed Jewish Synagogue in which Rabbi Harrison was the spiritual leader.... I have never heard anyone since who has been quite as eloquent. I still consider him one of the great preachers in my experience.
Roman Catholic monk, Jewish Rabbi, Reformed, ... Was there no one that Pastor von Schenk did not like as a preacher???  Yes, actually a true old Missouri preacher was the butt of his scorn!
Pg 79:  A man like Fosdick would not have been produced in the Missouri Synod; our whole system would hinder such a development. What do we still need if we have the Word of God?
Weren't you sure, Pastor von Schenk, that you had the Word of God... weren't you certain?...  could it be that you were losing the Word of God?
Pg 79:  My friend Friedrich Heiler sent Luther's Christmas sermons to Evelyn Underhill135she wrote to him giving thanks and became a great admirer of Luther's after that.
Footnote 135 by Fry & Kurz on Evelyn Underhill:  A synthesizer of prayer and mystical tradition, Underhill (1875-1941) was a re­spected spiritual director, author, translator, and poet named a Fellow of King's Col­lege, London, in 1927. Her works Mysticism (1911) and Worship (1936) are classic treat­ments of the subjects, and her Eucharistic Prayers from the Ancient Liturgies (1939) played a significant role in sacramental and liturgical renewal.
We see that at least the editors of von Schenk seem to value "mystical tradition".  Merriam-Webster defines mysticism as " the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)".
Pgs 81-82:  In spite of the importance of celebrating the Sacrament of the Supper at every official meeting of the congregation, I hold the preaching of good sermons of equal value. A high churchman must also be a high preacher. I think there was only one brilliant statement Professor Mezger, our homiletical professor at the seminary made, it was: "Nichts hält die Leute so gut zur Kirche als die gute Predigt." ("Nothing retains people for the Church as well as a good sermon.")
But von Schenk, the "high churchman", can't be trusted with even this statement of his for his sermons of "equal value" are a travesty of the Gospel for they cannot distinguish the Law from Gospel.  Prof. George Mezger was a true teacher for he taught the true Doctrine of Justification - Objective and Universal!
Pg 83: The great city of New York has Norman Vincent Peale 143 and Bishop Sheen, but there is not one good preacher among the Lutherans in New York.
Norman Vincent Peale was a 33rd degree Freemason and so knew little or nothing of a distinction of Law and Gospel.
Pg 84:  ... C. Drewes-the director of Negro mission work. 145 I owe Pastor Drewes so much for the encouragement he gave me, and so does Synod. He is one of the great forgotten men in Synod's history. He attended my services of worship whenever he was free, and he did not hesitate to pass along some advice or correct me.
Indeed Pastor Drewes is a great forgotten man in Synod's history... but Franz Pieper did not forget him as he gave reports in Lehre und Wehre of his activities among the colored people... this would be good material for this year's "Black History Month" instead of much of what passes for their history.  The old Missouri Synod was not racist, a charge sometimes levied by some in the new (English) LC-MS.
Pg 86:  Professor Graebner, the editor of The Lutheran Witness, gave me a good, even flattering, review [of The Prescence]. 148
Footnote 148 by Fry & Kurz:
Graebner's review was somewhat critical, asserting that certain positions "go beyond the Scriptural concept of the Sacrament" and fill even some of "the finest chapters" with "false viewpoints." He thought that the liturgical movement repre­sented by von Schenk needed "the strong balance wheel of old-fashioned dogmatics in order to keep it from straying into paths where romanticism and mysticism play hob with the Lutheran viewpoint." Nonetheless, he found The Presence to contain elements of "permanent worth" and "outstanding merit."
Graebner's review shows his confusion – pointing out valid warnings against it's "false viewpoints", yet saying it had "permanent worth".  This was to be expected from the very St. Louis seminary professor who publicly refuted Walther and Pieper on the basic teaching of Christianity, the Doctrine of Justification (see Part 2).
Pg 86:  I came to my conclusion on the Sacrament by experience...
True teachers of the the sacrament of Holy Communion draw their doctrines strictly from the Bible, not their subjective "experience".
Pg 89:  "... that insistence on dogmas, even good ones, can be a sin."
But is this true for von Schenk when it comes to his "Liturgical Renewal" dogma?  Probably not...  Yup, I plan to "sin boldly" and insist on the dogma of God's grace.
Pg 89:  I am grateful for the solid theological training I received from my father and also at St. Louis but...
But what? ... see next entry.
Pg 89:  "... but  only later did I discover why I had many doubts about the emphasis on sola doctrina ("doctrine alone").
von Schenk = "many doubts".
We are descending quite a road downward with this LC-MS pastor... but the deepest part is yet to come!  Next is Part 5.

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