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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rast–Pt 4c: Justif./Walther- Why lost? Trained clergy?

This post continues from Part 4b 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 4c continues the section dealing with C.F.W. Walther.
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To forewarn the reader, my narrative will switch at times between commenting on Prof. Rast and directing my comments to Prof. Rast.  Also my review may be a bit confusing as to whether I am quoting Prof. Rast or Walther.  To clarify this, I am making the name of the quoted person bold in the sentence preceding each quote.

- - - - - - - - - - - -   Why lost?   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Page 54, Rast on Walther:
Walther not only positively demonstrates confessional Lutheranism's thinking on the doctrine, but also the errors of three groups: the Romanists, the Calvinists, and the Enthusiasts. The second part is a brief treatment of the question "Why has the Lutheran Church largely lost the doctrine of justification?" Walther's answer here is simple: the teachers have lost it, therefore those they teach cannot know the truth. In other words, theological educators have failed to teach pastors the true nature of the doctrine of justification, and therefore these pastors are necessarily failing to teach the flocks entrusted to them the scriptural truth regarding the justification of the sinner before God. The result? Lutherans that are not Lutherans!
I would give Rast high marks on this whole section — "the teachers have lost it"; "Lutherans that are not Lutherans!" – Wow!  That is quite well said!  I will let the reader consider the significance of these statements.  It is a shame that one cannot purchase these books of Walther's essays from CPH any longer, especially because Walther's great LDJ essay that Rast quotes is in these books.

Page 54, Prof. Rast on Walther:
Finally, he poses the question "How can we recover the doctrine of justification?" His burden is to show how the doctrine of justification–which in his mind is a very simple doctrine to articulate in the abstract, but very difficult to make concrete–forms the heart of the biblical, Lutheran confession. All articles are intimately connected with the central article. Therefore, error in the doctrine of justification will affect all the other articles, and the converse is true as well. 
This last sentence strikes me when I contrast it to Scaer's statement that "[Franz] Pieper regarded justification as a subsidiary article of Christology".  Are Scaer & Rast implying that Pieper's doctrine was different than Walther's?

- - - - - - - - -   Heart of Walther  - - - - - - - - - - 
On page 54, Rast works to get at the heart of Walther:
The heart of justification for Walther, is Christ extra nos–Christ outside of us; Christ for us. He consistently believed, taught, preached, and confessed that God has, for Christ's sake, forgiven the whole world of all its sin. Now Christ applies that forgiveness by coming to us through the external Word and in Holy Baptism, who comes to us graciously in Word and Sacrament.
Rast does a good job of summarizing Walther here for he touched on the 2 major aspects of Walther's teaching:
  • the Objective nature of Justification – "extra nos", "Christ outside of us", and "the "external Word"
  • the Universal nature of Justification – "the whole world of all its sin"
-- That's it!... Dr. Rast, hang onto that central teaching of Justification and all your spiritual troubles go away... all the poisons in your Synod would be neutralized... as Luther said to Regensburg 1541.  —  But there is that "beat reporter" nature of Rast in the beginning phrase – he says "the heart of justification for Walther".  But is Rast making this teaching his own teaching?  It sort of seems so... at least in his summary of Walther's teaching... MAY IT BE SO!

- - - - - - - - - - - -   Trained clergy?  Catechization? - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Rast now quotes Walther on the great difficulty in teaching Christianity (on pg 55)
"It is very difficult to teach that we become righteous without works, through faith alone, and at the same time teach that we are to do good works. If you don't have faithful and wise servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God, who know how to dispense the Word of truth correctly, then you will soon see faith and works being confused."[47]
At this point Rast inserts his own lamentation on this quote (footnote [47], pgs 55-56).  Does he capture Walther's point that "faithful and wise" servants are needed?  Does he lament the difficulty in teaching the article of Justification?
   [47]. One is tempted at this point to think of the how the doctrine of justification will fare in the hands of an untrained clergy, should our Synod go forward with its flawed proposal for a new "order" of ministry, variously called "Ordained Deacon," "Assistant Pastor," "Assisting Pastor," and "Auxiliary Pastor." The lack or pared down educational requirements for this office will leave us with pastors who are not "apt to teach" the doctrine of justification clearly. The results for the church will certainly be disastrous as the Arminian tendencies, already obvious in the Missouri Synod, come to dominate its life all the more-largely due to the lack of able catechists.
So Prof. Rast does not lament the difficulty in teaching the central article of Justification, but rather the "lack or pared down educational requirements for this office" (i.e. the Office of the Ministry) in the LC-MS.  He implies that in his LC-MS, the "trained clergy", not the "untrained clergy", are receiving the proper "education" that is not lacking or "pared down" so that they are "'apt to teach' the doctrine of justification clearly".  But Dr. Rast, I wonder – was the training of the clergy proper to make them "able catechists" when:
  • Professor Theodore Graebner said the ALC taught Objective Justification the same as the old Missouri (when it did not)?
  • Professor Walther A. Maier Jr.(WAM Jr.) taught against Objective Justification?
  • Professor Robert Preus talked Prof. Harold Buls out of making formal charges of heresy against Prof. Walter A. Maier Jr.'s false teaching? (anecdotal account here)
  • Professor David Scaer apparently did not bring charges against WAM Jr. as Buls wanted to? (did he want to?)
  • Professor Kurt Marquart put conditions on the Doctrine of  Justification?... and said in essay  "Augsburg Revisited" from the same A Justification Odyssey book that "the terms universal or general ... are much to be preferred... [to] the words "objective" and "subjective."  Marquart was confused on Walther's use of the word "Objective", a word that is quite plain even to most untrained people.
Dr. Rast, how can your "educational requirements" make your clergy "apt to teach" Justification?  Would you say that any of the above teachers were "untrained"?  How can the clergy avoid the catastrophe of "Arminian tendencies" which fight against Objective Justification?  Should you not be more concerned about the "good seed"?... that the clergy be first and foremost taught that Justification is both Objective (sola) and Universal (universalis), and that thereby the Gospel purely preached will provide the power to spiritually do good works, i.e. "keep the horse in front of the cart"?  That is what Luther did at Regensburg 1541.  And Luther said the pure Gospel would eliminate all other poisons, including those causing your "tangles" (or "divisions").  Now Rast might counter that Luther and Walther also wanted well trained clergy, but they started with the "good seed" first, not as an after-thought.  They would not recommend students get their "educational requirements" at Harvard, University of Chicago, Princeton, Boston University, Oxford, or Vanderbilt, because there is no "good seed" in these institutions.  Dr. Rast!... do you not "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel"? (Matt. 23:24)
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But let us proceed...  continuing Rast's essay on Walther and the Doctrine of Justification – in America – in the next Part 4d covering Teachers, Philosophy, and what is Fascinating to Prof. Rast.

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