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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rast–Pt 4b: Justif. in Am. Lutheranism – Walther

This post continues from Part 4a in a series (Table of Contents in Part 1) that reviews several essays of Prof. Lawrence A. Rast Jr., president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (CTS-FW). Part 4 is a review of the essay "The Doctrine of Justification in American Lutheranism" from a series of essays published in the book A Justification Odyssey (2001) – Congress on the Lutheran Confessions (Luther Academy).  Part 4b reviews the section dealing with C.F.W. Walther.
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Rast prefaces the section "The Confessional Revival" with this statement (pg 52):
By the 1830s, American Lutheranism had compromised the central article.
The "central article" that Rast refers to is "The Doctrine of Justification".  Well said.  But where does that leave the other statement that "All Theology Is Christology" by Prof. Scaer?  But let us proceed...
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At this point, Rast gives the standard lead-in to Walther, the typical CHI biographical data and Christian Cyclopedia C.V. data with platitudes about Walther, the beginning of the old (German) Missouri Synod, etc.  Rast says (pg 52):
Walther, a staunchly confessional Lutheran, sought to further the Gospel of Christ in America.
Rast calls Walther a "staunchly confessional Lutheran".  (Others might use the pejorative word "strict" instead of "staunch".)  But Rast uses the term "confessional Lutherans" with others such as the ALC, a founding member of the ELCA.  They were "confessional Lutherans" too – according to Rast, but perhaps just not "staunchly" confessional Lutherans, like Walther and the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Ok, there are "confessional Lutherans" and then there are "staunchly confessional Lutherans".  I wonder how the "confessional Lutherans" are not "staunchly confessional"?...  But let us proceed.
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On page 53, Rast describes Walther's doctrine on the Scriptures thus:
Like Luther, he believed that the Scriptures were God's verbally inspired message to humankind...
Rast admits here that Luther believed that the Scriptures were "God's verbally inspired message to humankind...".   That is the point of what Pieper defended in his essay "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration". That is a fine statement... except, hmmm, to "humankind", not to "man"?... is Rast tipping his hat to modern theology's way of saying "man" as "humankind"?
Rast now makes a bold proclamation about Walther (pg 53):
Throughout the remainder of his life, Walther proclaimed the good news with certainty, and it formed the foundation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Wait a minute, didn't Rast admit earlier that today's "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod" has "tangles"?  Maybe Rast should have been more accurate by saying that Walther's sure and certain "good news" formed the foundation of "the old (German) Missouri Synod" or the "Deutschen Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio u.a. Staaten"?  Like this:
That's the name of my church, where the "Good News" is absolutely certain, without a doubt – it's taught essentially as UOJ, Universal, Objective Justification, whether in German or English, or whatever language "humankind" can understand.  But let us proceed...
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Rast continues:
Through his pastoring, preaching, writing, teaching and leading, he furthered the cause of scriptural, confessional Lutheranism in America.
No one would deny that Walther "furthered" this cause.  But didn't Walther restore "scriptural, confessional Lutheranism... in America"?  Rast earlier stated that Walther "sought to further the Gospel of Christ in America."  Didn't Walther restore the Gospel... in America?  Didn't God truly Bless America?
Continuing, Rast now introduces (page 53) one of Walther's major essays:
At the Fifth Western District Convention, in Addison, Illinois, he delivered an extremely important essay on the doctrine of justification
This convention was held in 1859.  The essay was translated and published by CPH in the 2-volume series Essays For The Church, you know, the books that CPH ceased publishing.  (Maybe Rast should join my protest?)  J.T. Mueller referred to it as LDJ in his translation of Pieper's essay on Walther – see Endnote [1] here.  I gave a download link for the original German essay here.

We have now reached the point in Rast's essay where I could hardly contain myself – where the teaching of Walther on the Doctrine of Justification is brought into view.... and all of modern Christianity is in the balance!  I have filled the margins with notes on what Rast reports of Walther... and Rast's own comments.

Wait a minute... didn't I already present another review of Walther's teaching on Justification?  Oh yes, it was by Franz Pieper – here and here, also here.  But let us proceed...

In Part 4c, I will continue this "Odyssey"...

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