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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Triglotta– Sasse/Ziegler: An Appeal (Part 5g); Perhaps Not!

This continues from Part 5f, (Table of Contents here) a review of an essay from Prof. Roland Ziegler (of CTS-FW) published in CTQ of April 2002 on the newest English translation (Kolb-Wengert) of the Lutheran Confessions (or the "Book of Concord").  Part 5g concludes my review with an appeal to Prof. Ziegler...

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How this review of Ziegler's detractions of the old Missouri pains me, for he had wonderfully defended the Lutheran Confessions in the first part of his essay against the onslaughts by the ELCA.  I could even overlook his statement that "very likely this new translation [Kolb-Wengert] will become the standard for coming decades" (page 145).  But I cannot overlook his use of Hermann Sasse's charges against the old Missouri, because the point of Sasse's charges are at the heart of the old Missouri (and the Lutheran Confessions!) – the Doctrine of Justification and the veracity of Holy Scripture!

Prof. Ziegler, may I suggest a way out of your dilemma, your "great challenges"?  Follow Luther's advice at the 1541 Diet of Regensburg – concentrate on the pure Doctrine of Justification.  Set aside your study of Hermann Sasse for awhile and study Walther's (and Pieper's) Doctrine of Justification – Objective and Universal!  Then, as Luther says, all the poisons will be neutralized.

And, Prof. Ziegler, when you have done that, then I have a project for you.  My detracters of last December claimed (as students of your CTS-FW) that there was a difference between Luther and the Formula of Concord on the teaching of original sin... and so would drive a wedge between them, and so claim for themselves great "Christian" scholarship.  Surely you did not teach this to them, so my project for you is to use true Christian scholarship (like you did in the first part of this essay and when you honored Walther) by showing them that they are wrong in substance, and give specific details.  Then I suggest that you find out who among your colleagues is teaching this false notion (MacKenzie?) and correct him.

Prof. Ziegler – I have partially read your source book by Prof. Jeffrey KlohaScripture and the Church : Selected Essays of Hermann Sasse.  I read it just to get the full impact of not only what Sasse taught, retracted, did not retract, "modified", and "clarified", but also the writings of those who follow him in today's LC-MS. These "Sasse theologians" know that Sasse admitted that he never espoused the "Missouri Synod" doctrine of Inspiration and Inerrancy, that of "Pieper" or the Brief Statement.  Perhaps you judge Kloha's work the same as Prof. Ronald Feuerhahn does in his Introduction (Scripture and the Churchpage vi):
Many have been intrigued, puzzled or disturbed by this part of Sasse's corpus; I judge Pastor Kloha's treatment of the topic not only the most thorough to date, but likely to remain the definitive historical study.

However I judge it differently...  and I do it by faith.  And most of today's LC-MS (à la Sasse) would call me a "little historian"... to borrow the phrase from C.S. Meyer.  Indeed the whole lot of LC-MS theologians Kloha, Feuerhahn, Nagel, Harrison, Pless, Rast, Scaer and even Robert Preus (Ibid., page 338) can all shout "But Sasse retracted!"... however it remains their problem that Sasse himself eventually said that

"... we [do not] believe it [Holy Scripture] to be free from the deficiencies and limitations of truly human writings" (Ibid., pg 396)

And

"... we [Lutherans] have... no reason to preserve the form of this doctrine as we find it in the Orthodox Fathers, and as it has developed in all churches of Christendom at the conclusion of the sixteenth and in the seventeenth century." (Ibid., pgs 395-396)

And the following is from Sasse in 1950 for which I could find no retraction:

But only with apprehension can one read the continuation, in which Walther warns against the so-called divine-human-ness (Gottmenschlichkeit) of Scripture and then continues thus: "... If I believe this, that the Bible also contains errors, then it is no longer a touchstone for me, but it really needs such a touchstone for itself."  If this statement means that Luther can be granted recognition only insofar as he is in agreement with Quenstedt [an "Orthodox Father"] on the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy; if his statements concerning the levis error [slight error] were already a deviation from the pure doctrine, then the end of the Lutheran church would have arrived. (Ibid., pgs 155-156)

No, "the end of the Lutheran church" has not arrived because of Walther's teaching.  Rather Sasse's confusion on the "slight error" in Scripture statement by Martin Luther shows that he did not understand Luther (where Walther did) and Sasse rather takes a position against Luther that is similar to those of the opponents like those from the Roman Church.  Let the reader compare Walther's statement above to Sasse's argument against him.  Walther's statement bears repeating again here:
"... If I believe this, that the Bible also contains errors, then it is no longer a touchstone for me, but it really needs such a touchstone for itself." – C.F.W. Walther, 1886.
Sasse's so-called later teachings on Holy Scripture are unconvincing (at best), even with Prof. Jeffrey Kloha's heroic attempt to exonerate Sasse in his extensive book Scripture and the Church.  And Kloha concludes his own essay in this book, "Hermann Sasse Confesses the Doctrine De Scriptura Sacra", with an equivocating appeal that
"Perhaps his [Sasse's] writings on Scripture may now be [found helpful to many and] so treated." (Ibid., pg 423)

Since Kloha equivocates, I will choose the apparent choice that Kloha leaves for the reader: 
Perhaps not.
Rather Sasse's erring teaching should fall on deaf ears when compared to Walther, Pieper, Lutheran Orthodoxy, Luther... and especially the Scripture itself.  The Christian dare not sweep away the words of the Saviour as Sasse does::
The Scripture cannot be broken. John 10:35
And I read also that Prof. Eugene Klug judged Sasse's writing "Luther and the Word of God" (for the 450th anniversary for the Reformation) differently when he said (Ibid., page 410):
"How come?"– why a book [in 1967] sponsored by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is tilted in critical judgment of past theological giants of the church.

All of the LC-MS theologians who now praise Hermann Sasse are doing him a dishonor — that's right, they are dishonoring him when they overlook his weaknesses (e.g. on Scripture) as they exclusively praise him.  Even Harrison's tribute to the "House of My Fathers" which appears to honor Walther, Pieper, and others now appears to be rather a look at the old Missouri through the critical eyes of Hermann Sasse.  They do not use the same judgment when they judge Hermann Sasse.  They do not judge Sasse by the light of Walther, Pieper, Lutheran Orthodoxy, Luther... or the Holy Scripture itself.
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In the last post, Part 5h, of this "Concordia Triglotta" series, I prepare a dedication of the next series of posts for the edification of Prof. Roland Ziegler, a German native.  And although the German language is native to him, yet he has perhaps inadvertently overlooked where the real strength of the Missouri Synod (and the Synodical Conference) came from – The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.

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