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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rast–Pt 4d: Justif./Walther- Teachers, Philosophy, Fascinating

This post continues from Part 4c reviewing the 2001 essay "The Doctrine of Justification in American Lutheranism" by Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr.  (Table of Contents in Part 1.)
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 - - - - - - - - - - -   Teachers?;  Philosophy?   - - - - - - - - - - - - 
On page 55, Rast continues to pour out his lamentations and corresponding quotes from Walther:

Walther then turns to the question of why the Lutheran church has lost this doctrine. The answer is simplethe teachers have largely lost this doctrine. I quote at some length, because Walther here describes our contemporary situation, even within the Missouri Synod:
One part of them still embraces vulgar rationalism and the Pelagian so-called supernaturalism. Another part preaches a Christianity modified by many assumption of recent philosophy.... A third part has drunk from the intoxicating goblet of the contemporary spirit of unionism (Unionsgeist) and, inebriated by it, this part considers purity of doctrine unimportant and constitutes true Christianity [1] in a love that is not zealous for the truth, even indifferent to it, and [2] in external cooperative projects for the extension of God's kingdom.... A fourth part seeks salvation in enthusiastic stimulation of feelings through all sorts of new regulations that downplay the means of grace instituted by God. A fifth part consists of those who have indeed recognized the ungodly nature of union (der Union), but now, over against the Reformed, lay the main stress–instead of on the pure doctrine of justification–on outward churchianity.
Well done, Dr. Rast, to have quoted Walther so extensively.  Did you know that your quote from Walther is from the same section that I used against CPH's warning letter to me... you know, Walther's essay that is no longer available from CPH?

Walther above speaks of "a Christianity modified by many assumptions of recent philosophy".  It seems I have heard of this effect of philosophy on Christianity before... Oh yes, it was by Rev. Martin Noland in his essay "honoring" Walther in CTQ.  Noland "honored" Walther by giving Christianity the great wisdom "suggested by American [and Jewish] philosopher Alvin Goldman".  Indeed, Dr. Rast, the teachers have largely lost this doctrine.  Dr. Rast, the "answer is simple"!  Return to Walther's Doctrine of Justification!  Too simplistic?

 - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Fascinating?  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
On page 56, Rast uses a revealing word to describe his reaction to Walther's true Historical Theology of Germany and America:
The last part of [Walther's essay]... is fascinating, for here Walther ... offers a running commentary on the state of the Lutheran church both in Germany and in America.
Rast finds Walther "fascinating"...
  • "Fascinating"?  Rast has a Ph.D. degree from Vanderbilt University, so why is Walther fascinating to such a highly trained, educated theologian and church historian as Rast?  Maybe Walther is just one "fascinating" theologian among many "fascinating" theologians? Surely Muhlenberg and Schmucker had some "fascinating" aspects.   
  • "Fascinating"?  Another "fascinating" Lutheran theologian was Joseph A. Seiss who was "Confessing and Conserving the Faith" with his "pyramidology", "dispensationalism", "millenialism" and other teachings that "fascinated" the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses.  Since Rast says that Joseph Seiss was "confessing and conserving the faith", maybe Seiss too was a "confessional Lutheran"?
  • "Fascinating"?  Was Walther really so "fascinating"?  Then why didn't Hermann Sasse, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and most of Germany's theologians listen to him if he was so "fascinating"?
  • "Fascinating"?  Maybe today's LC-MS also finds Martin Luther "fascinating"?  Surely Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown of Boston University School of Theology (Methodist), the general editor of the "New Series" of Luther's Works, also finds Luther "fascinating"?
  • "Fascinating"?  Maybe I should call Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr. a "fascinating" theologian and church historian?
  • "Fascinating"?  ==>>
Walther did not write his commentary to be "fascinating", he wrote it so that others might believe and be strengthened in their Christian faith.
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The next Part 4e covers a discussion of "Evangelicals" and Enthusiasts.

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