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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rast–Pt 4e: Justif./Walther- "Evangelicals?" or Enthusiasts

This post continues from Part 4d 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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On page 56, Rast gives the following perspective of one of Walther's worst antagonistic groups:
But even with all of the obvious evils of Rome, in America there is a greater threat than the papacy. Walther immediately turns to the American Evangelicals, i.e., the Methodists, whom he calls the "most bitter enemies of the doctrine of justification" and castigates them in no uncertain terms.
The confusing nature of this statement is that Rast calls the Methodists "American Evangelicals".  But that is not the name given to them by Walther.  Nowhere did either Walther or Pieper call Methodists "Evangelicals".   How could they?  In the quote of Walther immediately following, it reads thus:
Here one can clearly see that basically the Enthusiasts are as much like the papists as one egg is like another.
Walther called the Methodists "Enthusiasts".  So why does Rast here call them "Evangelicals"?  Rast had earlier in this essay used the term "Enthusiasts", but not here.  Is it because Rast thinks Walther's term is too harsh by today's standards?  Or does Rast perhaps think that today's Methodists have toned down their "enthusiasm"?  Ah, but Walther uses the term "Enthusiast", not "Evangelical", the same we find in the writings of Martin Luther.  And the extensive quote of Walther shows the bitterness of true Methodists against the doctrine of Justification...  one only has to read of both men and see that Luther and Walther understand "Enthusiasm" better than our modern theologians.  A search of my blog here gives more of Walther's sayings against "Enthusiasm".  And Franz Pieper elaborates even further about "Enthusiasts" and "enthusiasm" in dozens of places in his Christian Dogmatics books.

==>> Dr. Rast:  Don't you agree that it is a great irony that the General Editor for the "New Series" of Luther's Works teaches at Methodist theological seminary?

But Rast does a credible job by giving the following summary of Walther (on page 57):
Why are both the Romanists and the Methodists without comfort? Because they have traded the objective Gospel for subjective experience–something human to add to the grace of God.
Prof. Rast should now go to Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown, General Editor of Luther's Works – New SeriesProfessor of Church History at Boston University (Methodist / Enthusiasts), and explain to him that he teaches among those who fight against the true Doctrine of Justification, those who fight against the central doctrine of Christianity.... and that Dr. Brown cannot possibly teach true Church History in that institution... don't you agree, Dr. Rast?  Don't you agree that CPH (managing editor Dr. Benjamin Mayes) should chastise Dr. Brown instead of praising him?  Maybe you would agree that Dr. Brown has a poor understanding of Martin Luther?... just as poor of an understanding as the editors of the "Old Series" of Luther's Works?  Maybe you should correct Dr. Benjamin Mayes who claims the "truth" when he said that Luther was not "the lone hero of the Reformation", ... or is Luther just another "fascinating" character in the Reformation to you, Dr. Rast?
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Now Rast reaches the heart of his essay (on page 57) as he brings Walther's testimony against American Lutheran teachers who have adopted this "Evangelicalism", oops, I mean "Enthusiasm" which robs the poor sinner of the comfort of forgiveness brought by the objective Word of the Gospel.  "Enthusiasm" wants the poor sinner to turn to his own "feelings".  Now since Rast can freely quote from an out-of-print CPH book, so can I.  Here is Walther (on page 57):
Alas! also in the Lutheran Church there often are false teachings and false beliefs about absolution, in that absolution is all too often made to depend on repentance and is given no credence if the repentance is not complete. While the pope and the Enthusiasts condemn our pure doctrine about this, man in general does not want to stake his salvation on something outside of but only within himself. 
Does the reader see why Walther must be called "The American Luther"?  It is because "American Lutheranism" was not Lutheran and needed "The American Luther" to establish the true Lutheran Church in America... and it came to be known as the "Missouri Synod" and later the "Synodical Conference".  Now, for the first time in America, the teaching of Absolution was grounded in the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification – Objective and Universal.  Rast says on page 57:
The result [of enthusiasm, or synergism] is disastrous for the pure Lutheran confession. In the place of the objective declaration of the full remission of sins by the all-sufficient work of Christ, there is doubt and uncertainty. Those who make this catastrophic move have given up the right to call themselves Lutheran in any real sense.
Ah, Dr. Rast... hmmm, what about those teachers in today's LC-MS mentioned above in Part 4c who began this very same "catastrophic move" – Th. Graebner, Walter A. Maier Jr., David Scaer, Kurt Marquart, and yes, even Robert Preus?  How did their actions against the pure teaching of Objective Justification, a teaching that gives the poor sinner what he needs from God, not be catastrophic?
Rast presents a quote from Walther commenting on this catastrophe within the "General Synod", a forerunner of today's ELCA (on page 57).  Walther's point should make all true Lutherans shudder: [the General Synod, old ELCA] beguiles many with [its] Lutheran name. Many of its members indeed still want to be pure Lutherans; but that is precisely the most frightful abomination, when these now, out of miserable fear of man, do not bear a faithful witness within their Synod.
"a miserable fear of man"... hmmm, a frightening term for these Lutherans in an erring fellowship... but who are the erring fellowships today?  Didn't Rast say that there are "tangles" in today's LC-MS?  Didn't Rast say  in another essay that
"It is certain that with Pieper’s passing, things changed in Missouri."
Isn't Rast admitting that at least some form of "faithful witness" is needed in his own LC-MS today?  Shouldn't somebody in today's LC-MS step away from the "miserable fear of man" and testify to the truth?  Dr. Rast, isn't Walther speaking to you, the President of Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne?
At the top of page 58, Rast calls out a wonderful plea:
Would that we would have Lutheran leaders who would speak as clearly today!
Dear God!  Dr. Rast, again, you are the President of Concordia Theological Seminary... what higher leader is there in your LC-MS than you?  Should you not be filling that role now?...  God has given you such a position to further the true Gospel...  use it!!
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The next Part 4f covers the "Pietists".

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