|A Justification Odyssey - Congress on the Lutheran Confessions, 2001|
A rather revealing statement is made in Rast's introductory paragraphs (page 39):
...it seems that the title assigned to me gives me the responsibility of bridging the gap between the Reformation period and the later twentieth century. . . . This paper ... does begin to make a start on the central doctrine of Lutheranism from the perspective of three of the "Big Four." [8/22 - C.P. Krauth – article] What it will ultimately find is that the very concerns Walther expressed in the nineteenth century about errors on the doctrine of justification may now be identified within the Missouri Synod itself.
Within both traditions [LC-MS & ELCA], however, there are those individuals and congregations more comfortable with the other body's perspective! Hence the tangle of the present day.
"outdated" charge a common one leveled at Franz Pieper?...)
I will not review the details of Rast's portions on either of the above erring "Lutheran" teachers except to say that he brings evidences of
- pietism or personal experience (page 42),
- the conditional nature of salvation (page 43),
- the minimizing of the Lutheran Confessions (page 45),
- the voluntary nature of justifying faith (pg 51)
"Justification ... is not a change in man, nor even a divine influence exerted on earth, but a forensic act passed in the chancery of heaven."This is a Lutheran way of speaking with the term "forensic act" – one often used today. But Rast does a good job of uncovering the deception in that Schmucker conditions Justification with "a series of steps through which every man proceeds through a number of stages". Schmucker's teaching sounds a lot like the "12 steps" used in "Alcoholics Anonymous".
The extent of the atonement, affirms Schmucker, is the entire human race, "the whole human family."It struck me when I read this statement. This teaching is the same as that claimed for Prof. David Scaer by one of the "Anonymous" commenters last December 23rd when the commenter said:
Scaer talks about the Universal nature of the Atonement so much in his classes that if another teacher mentions "Atonement" someone often jokes that Scaer is about to bust through the door.I did not publish this comment then because I was tired of these rabid "Jeopardy" scholars. But I did respond to another portion of this comment on Christmas Day. Anyway, the above statement struck me, and I did wonder about Prof. David Scaer... I have often wondered about him. I attacked him in my "Lukewarm Lutheran Report", even though he is considered a teacher of UOJ by the notorious blasphemer "i c h a b o d" (GJ). But I want to think that he inwardly holds to the true teaching of UOJ. However, the above statement by (presumably) one of Scaer's students made me wonder: Is Scaer's "Universal Atonement" indicative of the same teaching as Schmucker? Rast elaborates the problem with Schmucker's teaching on page 49:
For Schmucker, there is a universal atonement, but it does not equal the justification of the sinner before God. Something must happen personally, individually, before one can said to be justified.
Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ's sake, He justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ's sake their sins are forgiven.Here is where all theology begins. May Scaer "bust through the door" on this doctrine.
The Spirit's work, to quote the old Peter Frampton hymn, is to "Show me the way."
In Part 4b, I will move on to Rast's portion on C.F.W. Walther and his teaching on Justification – the real reason I chose this essay to review.