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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"à la Sasse"? – Pres. Harrison speaks

[Aug. 1 – Note: a comment has come in (see below) pointing out this may not be a verbatim quote of Harrison.]

In the latest Christian News issue (July 29, pg 3, col. 1; PNG image), President Matthew Harrison, newly re-elected for the next term of the LC-MS, said this in an ALPB interview:
"We are a confessional Lutheran body à la Sasse..."
Harrison is referring to Hermann Sasse.  This is an interesting statement, especially in view of the title of his massive book At Home in the House of My Fathers.  Just who were the "Fathers" that Harrison was referring to in his title?  Walther, Wyneken, Schwan, Pieper and Pfotenhauer....  no Sasse here.  Ah, but we see that Harrison has another book entitled The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters by Hermann Sasse.  Now anyone who has read of the writings of Hermann Sasse knows that he does not hold up the writings of the fathers of the old (German) Missouri Synod, even though he had contact with many in today's LC-MS (including Prof. Kurt Marquart, Herman Otten, etc).

Who was Hermann Sasse?  There are a lot of writings about him today.  But Hermann Sasse said this in 1952 (Concordia Theological Monthly, vol. 23, page 221):
You know that our United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia is connected with Loehe and Iowa, now the American Lutheran Church, and our sister Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia, is in communion with Missouri... We tried to overcome the old scheme of the Orthodox fathers and to build the doctrine on Scripture on Luther's understanding of the Word of God. I think you will like this approach, which tries to overcome the Fundamentalist issues
This quote touches on issues beyond the scope of this blog post, but it is rather revealing that Hermann Sasse was not of the same doctrine as the old (German) Missouri Synod, even when he claims to "build the doctrine on Scripture on Luther's understanding of the Word of God".  The doctrine on Scripture that he built was rather that of Wilhelm Loehe and the Iowa Synod...  not Walther, Pieper, ... or Luther.

So who are the real "fathers" for today's LC-MS?

Walther, Pieper, etc.

Hermann Sasse, c. 1940s


Well now, the sheep in today's LC-MS should really study up on Hermann Sasse (and Wm. Loehe, the Iowa Synod, The American Lutheran Church, Prof. John T. Pless, Pres. Matthew Harrison, etc., etc.)

... for Hermann Sasse is your real father in the faith.

Matthew Harrison said so.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Walther's Duty to Attend Congregation Meeting (Rast - Part 1)

To continue a string of Walther publications (see here "Join" and here "Sheep"), I am publishing the following address that was originally translated into English and published in the periodical Lutheran Witness in 1892.  This was then (according to WorldCat) also published in a tract format, "Tract No. 7".  The name of the publisher is listed as "American Lutheran Publicity Board", an organization that may have been a forerunner of today's American Lutheran Publicity Bureau — an organization that has long since left whatever Lutheran heritage it may have had.

But the love for this Walther address has not died!  The publishing arm of today's LCR, Anchor Publications, continues to offer this tract for sale today with minor editing by American and Australian pastors.

I have not yet determined where and when Walther delivered this address.  Towards the end, he speaks like he is talking to some members who went through the chastening experience with Pastor Martin Stephan who was deposed in 1839.  I suppose someone at Concordia Historical Institute could figure this out...

Highlighting is mine. Italicized and CAPS body text are in original translation from the Lutheran Witness.  Hyperlinks added to original pages and Bible references.

Some quotes that struck me from Walther's address:
  • A simple, plain, testimony is often more powerful than a very eloquent and ingenious explanation.
  • It is, of course, self-evident that women and children were excluded...  [We see here how far today's LC-MS has left Biblical teaching...]
  • Why are many congregations in the eastern section of the United States no longer free?...  The cause, indeed, is to be attributed to the fact that contempt and laziness voluntarily sold and squandered this precious possession [the "grand possession of church liberty"].
The last quote particularly struck me since so many erring Lutheran pastors and teachers have come from the "eastern section of the United States" – Prof. David P. Scaer, Pastor Berthold von Schenk, Pastor David Benke, Pastor Herman Otten,...  The lone exception I have seen so far is Pastor Jack Cascione who says he came from New York City.  I believe Walther knew of some trusted pastors in the East in his day...

And finally this extended quote:
Where then could the highest Church-tribunal be found, before which the innocent might find redress and the guilty might receive a punishment, "which was inflicted of many" (2 Corinthians 2:6)? Where would that Church be, which, according to Holy Scripture, is, in the first place, to try a sinner and then if he remain stiff-necked, excommunicate him, regard him as a heathen man and a publican, thus cutting off an evil member lest the whole body become evil?  If the pastor began to lead astray souls by false doctrine, where would the Church be found, which, in that event, would have to decide upon a most essential matter, whether the Gospel of Christ be taught aright or be corrupted and adulterated?  Furthermore if the pastor, teaching the pure doctrine, were accused of being a false prophet, a heretic, and he appealed to the entire flock, where could he find it? There can, therefore, be no doubt that our congregation will collapse sooner or later, confusion will reign supreme, most necessary matters will remain unattended to, the entire flock will become a disorderly and unorganized body which has entirely lost the true form of an apostolic congregation.
Does your congregation resemble Walther's description of a failing congregation where members do not attend to congregational matters... a collapsing flock where confusion reigns supreme,  where necessary matters are unattended, disorderly, unorganized?  Walther's admonishments to members show just how vital the congregation is...

So what is the highest Church-tribunal as Walther (and the Bible) teaches?
==>> The congregation that cherishes its freedom in Christ, its Church Liberty: an "apostolic congregation".

So why does Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., the great authority in the LC-MS on this subject and President of CTS-FW, in his essay "Demagoguery or Democracy..." (CTQ Oct 1999)  say (page 268) that instead of "an apostolic congregation", the 
"... the polity developed by the Missouri Synod was uniquely American"??
Why "American" and not "apostolic"?  Dr. Rast seems confused... "American" polity does not say the same as Walther teaches on an  "Apostolic congregation".  Hmmm... Dr. Rast is confused... at best.

I will have more to say on Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr. in Part 2a.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Table of Contents - Writings of Prof. Lawrence Rast
Part 1 – This post - "Demagoguery or Democracy?" – "American" congregations vs. apostolic?    
Part 2a – "Collecting Autographs"  – Scripture  
Part 2b – "Collecting Autographs" – Engelder & Kretzmann
Part 3a – "Pieper–Connecting Link" (P–CL) – Intro
Part 3b – "P–CL" – Bio & Literary Legacy
    Intro –  "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration" by Francis Pieper
    Essay – "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration" by Francis Pieper
Part 3c – "P–CL" – Sola Scriptura     
Part 3d – "P–CL" – Final Word, Sola Scriptura
Part 3e – "P–CL" – Sola Gratia (Scaer & Christology)
Part 3f – "P–CL" – Scaer & Christology - "fly in the ointment"
Part 3g – "P–CL" – Church Fellowship
Part 3h – "P–CL" – Conclusion- "a certain extent"
Part 4a – "Justification in American Lutheranism" (JiAM)- Muhlenberg, Schmucker, Scaer, Frampton
Part 4b – "JiAM" – Walther intro, "staunchly confessional"
Part 4c – "JiAM" –  Teachers have lost it;  heart of Walther vs. Rast
Part 4d – "JiAM" – Teachers, Philosophy, Fascinating
Part 4e – "JiAM" – "Evangelicals?" or Enthusiasts; "miserable fear of man"
Part 4f – "JiAM" – "No Pietists Allowed"?; "properly trained clergy"
Part 4g – "JiAM" – "Conclusion", catechization, catholicity, "starting point"
Part 5a – Summary: Demagoguery?; "merely advisory"?
Part 5b – Summary: Ironies
Part 5c – Summary: comparison to other LC-MS church historians

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Walther quote from – I found it.

When I composed my original website, I wanted to finish the essay with a strong proclamation of the Gospel, something that I felt Franz Pieper himself would have preferred.  Why?  Because Franz Pieper would consider the Gospel more important than his own reputation.

So how did I end that essay?  With this quote from C.F.W. Watlher:
C.F.W. Walther wrote in 1868: "…you often hear pastors preach, 'You are saved if you believe.' What they should be saying is, 'You are saved so that you might believe.'"
But for the longest time, I forgot where the exact quote came from.  But I have recently discovered it.  It is on page 172 of Essays For The Church, Volume I 1857 - 1879.... you know, the volumes that CPH no longer offers.  The quote is taken from Walther's essay to the Central District in 1868, pages 170 - 178.

I want to re-produce the entire page: (go ahead, CPH, send me another warning letter for copyright infringement)
[PDF download here]
Does your pastor preach like this?  No?  Then maybe you need to find a Lutheran pastor...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds – Walther sermon (Part 2)

This continues and concludes from Part 1 where I introduced this sermon.

The subject matter of Walther's sermon is a matter of spiritual life and death for all Christians for he speaks spiritually of "ravening wolves".  But who are these "ravening wolves" that can kill you for all eternity?  Would you not like to know?  Then...   read Walther for the answer:
Highlighting is mine. Underlining is in the original.

(July 18: Note – I notice that Pastor Jack Cascione has also published this sermon here.  This sermon certainly is a mainstay in his struggles against today's LC-MS.)

If ever there was a time for this sermon, this is it.

The reason I have published this sermon is that I want it handy so that I can read it online anytime... for Walther teaches me God's Word and I can say that Walther is not a "ravening wolf", but rather
The American Luther.

The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds – Walther sermon (Part 1)

I have quoted the above sermon title by C.F.W. Walther several times on my blog before (search here).  I decided to research the origin of this sermon because I wanted to know where it came from since I recently purchased a printed English translation of it from Anchor Publications (of the LCR).  Their publication gives no details of where it came from or who translated it for them, but WorldCat indicates it was "Nils C. Oesleby" back in 1951.  Given the date, I also wonder whether Oesleby was even a member of the OLC or the later LCR – groups separated from the LC-MS.

Using my handy table of Walther's works, I then linked to the Google Books page for Walther's Gospel sermons book (Amerikanisch-Lutherische Evangelien Postille), then used Google Translate to find out the German translation for this sermon title (here), then used Google Books search box for the word "Schafe" ("sheep"), and voila!  There it is... Walther's Eighth Sunday After Trinity, "Das Gericht der Schafe über ihre Hirten", beginning on page 257-262.  (Wow, look at that title page!  Those German-American Lutherans seemed to revere their Walther sermons!)

Now if the reader is somewhat familiar with Walther's works today, they may know that Concordia Publishing House recently copyrighted the English translation of Walther's sermon book that was done way back in the 1950s and 1960s by Rev. Donald E. Heck (Old Standard Gospels) and sold by Concordia Theological Seminary Press beginning in 1984.  It cost $14.40 for the whole 397-page book then.

And very recently it is being made available to purchase by CPH in a 2-volume set called Gospel Sermons, with the 2nd volume not due to come out until 2014.  This is a commendable effort!  It costs $100 (retail) for the 2-volume set. I wonder if Dr. Benjamin T. Mayes suggested publishing this sermon book of Walther?  If so, then I wonder why he said (as it was reported to me) that Walther's Pastoraltheologie will probably not be published by CPH, even if Rev. Christian Tiews finishes translating it into English?  Given this attitude by the "academic" professionals at CPH, it would be best to ignore (or even cut out as I do) all their prefaces, introductions, forewords, "endorsements", and most footnotes... like I did to my copies of the American Edition of Luther's Works.

A comparison of the English translations of the above sermon by Walther shows that the Oesleby version is not the same as Heck's translation.  So... I'm going to publish it on my website now.  See Part 2 for the Oesleby translation of Walther's sermon
The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do you believe the Bible?

... in all its teachings?  Then you are a Lutheran (i.e. a true Evangelical, a true Protestant) whether you know it or not, ... whether you have read the Lutheran Confessions or not.  For the Lutheran faith (and the Lutheran Confessions) is nothing more or less than what the Bible teaches.  All others who claim the "Evangelical" or "Protestant" name are "sects", even those who call themselves "Orthodox", ... and even many (most?) who call themselves "Lutherans" are sects.  Why?  Because they do not believe, teach, and confess what the Bible teaches.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church Alone Has Been Entrusted with the 
Pure Doctrine of Justification.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the True Visible Church of God on Earth. 
— C.F.W. Walther

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Do you believe 2+2=4?

Why do you believe it... that 2+2=4?  What did you say?  Because it is true?

Now, do you believe 2+2=5?   No?  Because you know it is not true?

Then why is it so hard for us to believe this?
John 3:16 – 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.
Why does Jesus speak of the impossibility of a "camel to go through the eye of a needle"? Matt. 19:24  How this verse troubled me!!  Why, God, do you make the way to heaven like an "eye of a needle"??

Because the Gospel is way too good to be true... for our way of thinking.  Holy Scripture tells us this fact:
1 Cor. 2:9 – Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
So how can we believe it?
Let us go back to the Bible.  Jesus said:
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. – John 14:6
Let us go Back To Luther:
1) Luther's Small Catechism, The (Apostle's) Creed, Third Article:
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith
2) Luther's Large Catechism, Apostle's Creed, Article III, paragraphs 38-39:
For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. 39] Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain of ourselves.
Who then can be saved? (Matt. 19:25)  Jesus answers us:
Matt. 19:26 – ...but with God all things are possible.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. – John 14:6

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walther's Dance and Theater online (on Higher Things)

With my recent experience of embedding larger documents within my blog posts, I want to return to the subject of an earlier blog where I introduced Walther's Tanz und Theaterbesuch book.  I had translated it, commented on it, and provided download links to it then.  But now I consider this book important enough for today that I want to put the whole document online, not just a download link, so that it can be easily read anytime.

The difference of the version below from my previous download is that this is not in PDF format, but rather text only; and I have added internal hyperlinks to easily jump to certain sections from my Table of Contents.
I have also added several hyperlinks throughout the document – [ToC] – to easily jump back to the Table of Contents.  As before, underlining is in the original,  highlighting is mine.
Pagination from the original German has been retained and many page references have been hyperlinked (e.g. (page 16) ) to the original pages in Google Books.
My apologies for the rough translation work... even some German words were left untranslated.  Some might call the quality of my work laughable.  But this material is clear enough that even with some stumbling during reading, Walther's clear message comes through.  Hmmm.... did Walther really teach that the spirit of Shakespeare is the same as the ancient heathen? (See page 71)

There is a youth conference going on now of "Higher Things" (affiliated with LC-MS) in Indiana (at Purdue University) called "From Above 2013".  I do not know what all is taught at these conferences — they say they are "cultivating, encouraging, and promoting a distinctively Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults."  They also say they
are convinced that youth need solid teaching and experiences that will nurture lasting Christian faith. Rather than treating youth as an adolescent subculture and confusing them with once- in-a-lifetime “mountaintop” experiences that cannot be replicated outside the conference events, Higher Things believes in challenging youth to learn the pure doctrine of the Christian faith.  By teaching them the same message that they are already hearing at home and at church, youth grow in the fullness of the Christian faith as they come to appreciate historic liturgical practice and its unique focus on God’s gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation for us delivered in Word and Sacrament."
Now it would seem commendable that they aren't focusing on "mountaintop" experiences such as  Pentecostal-like experiences outside God's Word.  Hmmm... just what is the "Lutheran identity" they speak of?  I wonder... do they teach like Walther in this book?  Or are they more influenced by Berthold von Schenk who claimed he started "Liturgical Renewal"?  Is the "Lutheran identity" they speak of the same as that of Berthold von Schenk (who was confused on the Doctrine of Justification) or that of C.F.W. Walther?  If their "Lutheran identity" is the same as that of Berthold von Schenk, then I have spoken on this before where I "thanked" von Schenk because
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.
So to assist the organizers of "Higher Things" in figuring out what material might be suitable, I dedicate this book of Walther to "assist parents, pastors, and congregations" for the training of not only the youth, but also for themselves.  Walther speaks of worldly dance, fashion, women's makeup, Shakespeare, unchastity, baudy novels, comedians, circuses, music, etc.  Walther ends his talk on worldly dance thus:
Well, dearly beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, ye fathers and their mothers, their sons and their daughters, so I urge you and ask for the conclusion: For the love of God who has given us the law of chastity, for the love of the Son of God's sake who has redeemed the whole sinful world so dearly and so does not want anyone angry, deceived and lost, and for the love of the Spirit's, the same will, that all should come to the knowledge of truth, abstain a desire of the world, with this love, which may make whatever your flesh for not absolutely true. 
Listen to Walther for truly "Higher Things"!  To God Be The Glory! Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pieper's Addresses – translations from Australia

This post publishes a series of short addresses and a sermon given by Prof. Franz Pieper.  These were translated into English about 10 years ago (2002) by an Australian Lutheran pastor.  Since the people of Australia also speak English, Australians are also dependent like us Americans on getting the original German translated for our benefit.  A pastor of the ELCR (Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Reformation) has devoted significant time to translating several of the German works of Franz Pieper into English.  And these addresses are real gems.  The Introduction states in part:
In order that more of the outstanding works of this Godly orthodox Lutheran teacher may be available in English, and that we might sit at his feet and learn these vital truths of God’s Word, five of the following six addresses to the student body of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, USA have been translated by the undersigned. ... Reference to Greek and Hebrew terms as well as Latin expressions have been omitted in order to make the translation flow. The italicised emphasis is Pieper’s and the bold emphasis is mine. Also a sermon on Romans 16:17 is included.
       "an Australian Lutheran pastor belonging to the ELCR",
       Kingaroy, Australia.
       Christmas. 2002.
The titles of Pieper's Addresses are as follows:
  1. The True Love for the Study of Theology
  2. Three Characteristics of True Theology
  3. Up-to-Date Theology at Concordia Seminary
  4. True Reverence For God’s Word
  5. Luther’s Method For The Study Of The Word Of God (Prayer, Meditation, Affliction)
  6. Distinguendum Est – Observe Proper Distinctions.
  7. Sermon on Romans 16:17-18 - Avoid!
Original formatting by the translator has been retained. Titles and footnotes are hyperlinked for ease of navigation. (Note: these internal hyperlinks do not work in my Android Chrome, but do work in desktop Chrome and Firefox) I have refrained from highlighting any of the text since I am re-publishing another's work.  The translator acknowledged others in his endeavor such as Pastor Kenneth Miller of the LCR († 2011).

There is so much spiritual food when reading Franz Pieper.  A Christian finds his home here.  I am especially glad to have Pieper's sermon on Romans 16:17-18 published – this is the Bible verse that O.P. Kretzmann of Valparaiso University laughed at.  But Pieper doesn't laugh at it... he teaches it! – about Church Fellowship.  Hmmm... which do you think was the true Lutheran teacher?

The Australian pastor who translated "Pieper's Addresses" is more than just a translator, he is a student of Franz Pieper!  He, like me, is getting spiritual instruction and joy from reading the works of Franz Pieper.  He preaches "Justification by grace though faith in Christ without the deeds of the Law" – see Pieper's sermon above on Romans 16:17, section II..  The Australian pastor writes:
The file "Pieper's Addresses" was printed in booklet form mainly for our people here in Australia. ... Your are welcome to publish any of this material, including that one Rom.16:17. ... My name means nothing and I would prefer it not to be used. Whatever value there is for people is by God's grace for His glory. A lot of hard work and spiritual joy goes into this and I am sure that there are better translators."
May the people of America, the Lutherans, also benefit from these works from Australia!  I call Franz Pieper more than the title "International Luther" that some have applied to Prof. Kurt Marquart († 2006) — I call Franz Pieper by the greater title:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Walther's "A Christian's Duty To Join An Orthodox Local Congregation" w/ download

(Updated May 26, 2017 -- added link to Walther's German original publication)
(Updated October 8, 2013 – see below text in red.)

As I was compiling the listing of the published books of Walther, one of the titles reminded me of a full English translation provided by the late Pastor Kenneth K. Miller († 2011) of the LCR.  This is a monumental translation work (62 pages!) and presents wonderful teaching by C.F.W. Walther in his book titled Von der Pflicht der Christen, sich an eine rechtgläubige Ortsgemeinde gliedlich anzuschliessen. [2017-05-26: Copy of original publication in Archive here.]

I have recently been given permission by Anchor Publications, the arm of The Lutheran Churches of the Reformation (LCR), to publish this translation on the web.  They have now indicated that they may consider putting out a printed version for sale in the future.  It was published in their periodical journal The Faithful Word, Volume 35, No 3/4, (Fall/Winter 1998).  Regular followers of this blog will notice that Pastor Kenneth Miller is the same translator as the one for Luther's Biblical Chronology treatise here.

The reader may notice that I translate "Ortsgemeinde" as "local congregation" rather than Miller's "local church".  This is my preference but I would not dispute with Pastor Miller on this. I may study the German words for these at a later time... (see Walther's book below, page 9, 3rd paragraph)

First I am providing a download link to a scanned copy (with OCR'd text embedded) of the essay:
download ==>> Walther-Christians Duty To Join Orthodox Local Congregation.PDF (5 MB)
Note: this download link had been removed because this publication is now available from Anchor Publications as of October, 2013 (Item #516 here).  However, I am keeping the below online version.
I am updating my blog page of Walther's books with this download (and possibly a scanned copy of the original German in the future).

And below I present the OCR'd text of all 62 pages from this scan.  There may be a few minor errors but it has been checked thoroughly.
Bible reference verses have been manually hyper-linked for ease of reference.
Highlighting is mine.  
Original page headers retained – page #s, "The Faithful Word" or "Fall/Winter 1998".

This book is a wonderful Bible study as Walther brings many Bible passages to bear on his subject matter.  Walther proves that the Lutheran Church is the Bible church, not the sects such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians, German Evangelicals, and Dutch Reformed, or whatever.  Walther grabs hold of the spiritual meaning of God's Word and presents it as the teaching for the Church.  I suspect several of the points that Walther makes in this book are also covered in his Americanisch-Lutherische Pastoraltheologie (Pastoral Theology).

This book also gets into true Church History – Augustine, Calov, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Luther, Quenstedt, etc.  But Walther isn't a name-dropper (so we can answer "Jeopardy" questions) but rather he quotes the true spiritual content from these past teachers.

Someone (like Paul McCain) will say now
But what about you, BackToLuther, you hide your name... Aren't you, BackToLuther, despising the local church by not being a member?  Aren't you a hypocrite to be holding up Walther's teaching when he so clearly writes against you in this book?
Dear God! I am not proud of the fact that I'm not a member of a local congregation!!  How I have studied this book by Walther! Why did I cry out last year on a blog post that perhaps there is
No public ministry now? Only fathers in homes? 
And the dear Walther says (page 4):
3. Everyone who wants to be a Christian is obligated to join a Christian congregation of the right confession whenever and wherever he has the opportunity
Walther speaks (pages 60-61) of a Lutheran who, having left a city where all the pastors are heterodox, says
"Oh, if only I could find an orthodox pastor in my neighborhood I would not come to you. I cannot abide a false Lutheran, a United, a Reformed, a Methodist, a Baptist, a Schwenkfelder, or a Swedenborgian. Therefore you must receive me as a guest!"
What does Walther mean when he says "a false Lutheran"?  I tell you they are the ones who are not teaching the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification properly and fully... they are not properly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel.  Franz Pieper says it this way:
All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Commenter: If one minimizes the Law... one minimizes the Gospel.

(This post was amended on 7/3/2013 to add a quote from the Lutheran Confessions)
(This post was amended on 2017-05-16 to add quote from Bente's Historical Introduction)
I received a comment on the previous blog post that bears an extended reply:
"Re Natural Law: if one minimizes the Law, also by denying natural law, one minimizes the Gospel."
I suppose your statement could be understood correctly, but so could the term "in view of faith" (intuitu fidei).  But just as Walther sounded the alarm against the danger and false usage of "intuitu fidei", so I say the danger of the above statement is the reason it should be abandoned.  The reality is that there is no proper  distinction  between Law and Gospel unless the Gospel (i.e. the Doctrine of Justification) is correct.  And when the proper distinction is lost, then all  Christian teaching is lost.  The danger of your statement is that the poor sinner might think that he had better not "minimize the Gospel", therefore he had better not "minimize the Law" but rather maximize the Law – for his motivation against sin, for his salvation's sake.  And so I will stick to Pieper's teaching that one must avoid "maximizing the Law" because of this danger... because the Law "shows my sin" and never saves.  Ah, but when the pure Gospel is preserved, there the proper distinction can be maintained and so the Law is preached in all its spiritual usage – with a severity to drive the carnally secure from their carnal security. (Christian Dogmatics, I, xi)

Some Bible verses come to mind:
  • Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. – Romans 3:28
  • For what the law could not do, [Luther- "for what was impossible for the Law"...] in that it was weak through the flesh,... – Romans 8:3
 ==>>The Law is not minimized in these verses, it is excluded!  If the Law is not excluded for our salvation, for our justification, the Christian religion falls.

George Stoeckhardt and Friedrich Wyneken are witnesses to the fact that it was not the Law that comforted them, it was only the pure Gospel.

The Lutheran Confessions speak on this also (as Pieper quotes C.D. II, 458) in the Apology (or Defense) of the Augsburg Confession, Article III, paragraphs 144-145:
[144] But works become conspicuous among men. Human reason naturally admires these, and because it sees only works, and does not understand or consider faith, it dreams accordingly that these works merit remission of sins and justify. This opinion of the Law inheres by nature in men's minds; [145] neither can it be expelled, unless when we are divinely taught. But the mind must be recalled from such carnal opinions to the Word of God. We see that the Gospel and the promise concerning Christ have been laid before us. When, therefore, the Law is preached, when works are enjoined, we should not spurn the promise concerning Christ. But the latter must first be apprehended, in order that we may be able to produce good works, and our works may please God, as Christ says, John 15:5: Without Me ye can do nothing.
And Franz Pieper says it best when he wrote:
Only by hearing the Gospel is conversion brought about; no man can remain in the state of conversion unless he continues to use the Gospel.... men will be converted to God only when Law and Gospel are preached in the proper order and with the proper distinction. –  (Christian Dogmatics, II, 459): 
Pieper and Walther are hardly "Antinomians" – Pastor Jeremiah Gumm of the WELS testifies to how harsh and blunt Walther's preaching of the Law is... "for the letter killeth", 2 Cor. 3:6.  Do you want to maintain the "proper distinction between the Law and Gospel"?  Then learn from Walther on "The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification".

There is a lot of usage of terms in recent CPH publications like this: God's people should find out God's will for their lives", which is much like how the Reformed talk.  Baker Book House churns out book after book after book (hundreds!) with "God" talk along this line. There is a lot of "God" talk today, but not much about this will of Him:
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:4
I will accept your thanks for my site... with some reservations. I will thank you that your statement has driven me back to Pieper's Christian Dogmatics to refresh myself on the teaching of "the Law" and "natural law" (especially vol. 1, pgs 374-375, vol. 2, pgs 458-459, etc).  Even I, BackToLuther, am not so strong that I don't need to go back and sit down at the feet of Pieper and listen to pure Christian teaching.  If the teaching on the "Natural Law" does not also "stress its inadequacy and utter insufficiency in bringing man to salvation", then it is not Christian teaching.

I would more have enjoyed a comment from you like the 2 commenters (Jeff & Timothy) on where their eyes were opened to the Gospel that Walther and Pieper restored and defended... on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.

It is evident this subject is not a minor one and I will soon be publishing an English translation from Australia of Franz Pieper's 1892 essay "The Practical Importance of the Right Division of Law and Gospel." [Nov. 26, 2014: see this blog post for this essay]
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2017-05-16 Addendum: See also F. Bente's Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions (Triglotta p. 161) where he states  in section XVII. The Antinomistic Controversy, #183:
“Wherever the Law is despised, disparaged, and corrupted, the Gospel, too, cannot be kept intact. Whenever the Law is assailed, even if this be done in the name of the Gospel, the latter is, in reality, hit harder than the former. The cocoon of antinomianism always bursts into antigospelism.”
This is brought out in Eugene Klug's Getting into the Formula of Concord, pp. 47-48.