Search This Blog

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rast–Pt 4f: Justif./Walther- "No Pietists Allowed"?

This post continues from Part 4e reviewing the 2001 essay "The Doctrine of Justification in American Lutheranism" by Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr.  (Table of Contents in Part 1.)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - -   Pietists   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
On page 58, Rast introduces another group that was antagonistic to the Doctrine of Justification:
...the history of the church in the post-Reformation period shows that confusion over this doctrine has consistently been present. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the pietists, the predecessors of the American Lutherans, who, in fact, confused Law and Gospel and thereby compromised the central article.
Did you hear that?  Rast is calling the Doctrine of Justification "the central article".  But Dr. Rast, I thought Pieper held that "justification was subsidiary to Christology"(?).  Then Rast presents an extended quote from Walther concerning the Pietists that I will reproduce:
Pietists admit the thesis, that faith alone justifies without works, and they do not deny this expressly anyplace. But to admit this is not the same as saying that they teach justification in a pure way. For to this belongs such a distinction between Law and Gospel that would include the concept of a human being turned completely away from his own works to Christ alone. This is the point that is missing in our dear Pietists..... These all indeed adhere to the basic emphasis that man is justified alone through faith, but with that they emphasize repentance and crushing of the heart to such a degree and the particular circumstances in which a person would dare to believe, and they identify so many signs of a truly penitent heart, which then first can dare to approach Christ, to such a point that Christ and His grace and mercy must be pushed into the background. (Correspondence of C.F.W. Walther, 1980, tr. Roy Suelflow, p. 20-21)
Prof. Rast, there are Lutheran pastors today who proclaim "No Pietists Allowed".  I wonder, have they learned that phrase from you?  But it seems their idea of what was wrong with the Pietists is different than Walther explains above, for Walther nails their error on an impure teaching of Justification... and therefore a lack of distinction between Law and Gospel.  Walther does not speak of cigars and cognac...  Maybe you should be correcting these erring LC-MS pastors who are so prominent on Lutheran forums...
Indeed, Dr. Rast, as you say on page 58,
Clarity on the right distinction of Law and Gospel and keeping the central article central was one of the basic purposes of the Synod.
Yes! "keeping the central article central" – that is what I am trying to do with you, Dr. Rast.  I'm trying to pull you away from the fork in the road that you and your seminary have gone down.  Why is it that you keep repeating Scaer's teaching that "All Theology Is Christology" and that "Pieper's doctrine of justification was subsidiary to Christology"?  Why is it that you falsify Walther's teaching of a Christian congregation as "American democracy" and not apostolic?  You give great offense to Scaer and Pless when you confirm their errors.
Prof. Rast follows this with his analysis and formulation to correct the "tangles" in his LC-MS (page 58):
... solid, confessional pastoral formation had to occur at the [old German Missouri] Synod's seminaries so that the preaching and practice of the Synod's pastors would be good and salutary. Without a properly trained clergy that was apt to teach, the Law and Gospel would soon be confused, the doctrine of justification redefined, ...
Again, Rast here seems to do a good job of making a plea that his Synod's clergy by "properly trained" to avoid confusion between Law and Gospel and to avoid redefining "the doctrine of justification".  Does Rast mean that clergy should be "properly trained" at a university of higher learning like Vanderbilt University... like he was?  Does Rast think that Walther only furthered the Gospel in America? – Or does Rast here consider that Walther actually is more than "fascinating"?  Does he consider that it was only Walther who restored the Gospel in America?  Is Rast on the edge of grasping "The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel".  Dear God!  MAY IT BE SO!!  May I offer you, Dr. Rast, the advice of Franz Pieper (see here):
The knowledge and preaching of this doctrine [of Justification] outweighs many a shortcoming in external education and endowment.  If the Church had only the choice between externally inadequately educated [!] preachers, who, however, live in the article of justification and preach it, and externally highly cultivated preacherswho, however, do not understand the article of justification and therefore also do not preach it, it would necessarily choose the former without any hesitation.
Would I be going too far to suggest that in Rast's LC-MS today there are many "externally highly cultivated preachers who do not understand the article of justification"?  Surely...... Dr. Rast is not one of them, is he?

==>> But one thing is certain – Rast cannot grasp Walther (or Luther or Pieper) unless he quits getting on the fence and falling off so often (DemogogueryCollecting Autographs).  Sitting on the fence (like a "beat reporter") will only make Rast "fascinated" with Walther, and he will be just another "Lutheran" who is not a Lutheran.

 Let me tell you, Dr. Rast, that when God strengthened my faith far beyond what I deserved, my hesitation about which kind of preacher I wanted vanished.  And so I'm sitting at the feet of Pieper, Walther, and... Luther.  You will know where to find me...  because I'm about to leave you.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The next Part 4g begins Rast's "Conclusion".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.