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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Triglotta–Sasse/Ziegler: Worship & Fellowship (5d)

This continues from Part 5c, (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 5d reviews the first 2 of 3 areas where Ziegler is concerned with "the present situation" in his LC-MS.

The original essay's text is in black text.
Highlighting in yellow or blue is of significant wording by Ziegler.
My comments are in red font. Many hyperlinks added throughout.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  cont'd from Part 5c  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
The New Translation of the Book of Concord:
Closing the barn door after...
Roland F. Ziegler
(CTQ, April 2002, pages 145-165 - reviewed pages 160-165)

4) The Confessions in the LCMS (pg 162)
  Reading this assessment [by Hermann Sasse] of Missouri after more than fifty years, one cannot miss the parallels to the present situation.
"Fifty years" – when I do the math on this, I realize that again, Prof. Ziegler is using only Hermann Sasse's judgments of the LCMS for his own.  If he had said "60 years", I might have thought he took into account the faithful editors of The Confessional Lutheran who called themselves the Confessional Lutheran Publicity Bureau, but apparently he does not.  This leaves me to worry about Prof. Ziegler...
Now Ziegler brings up the first of 3 points within today's LCMS – worship forms.
The discussion on worship is, if anything, much more heated than in 1951.  Those who favor a diversity in worship and "new" forms of worship (that are rather modern forms of camp revivals) invoke AC VII and FC X.  However, they adopt a proof-texting method that avoids the theological issue – do these forms really serve the pure preaching and proper administration of the sacraments or do they carry a theology in themselves that is alien to Lutheran theology?

"alien to Lutheran theology" is a bit weak... Ziegler should make a stronger case here and say "alien to Christian theology", for Lutheran theology is Christian theology... Pieper's books were titled Christian Dogmatics, not Lutheran Dogmatics.  Indeed, Prof. Ziegler seems himself to be struggling here against those in his own synod who "favor a diversity in worship and 'new' forms of worship".  Could it be that his adherence to Sasse's weaknesses on the Doctrine of Inspiration (and Justification) are at the root of his own struggle?
Now Ziegler brings up his 2nd of 3 points – church fellowship.
The question of church fellowship has troubled Missouri Synod since the middle part of the twentieth century.
Church fellowship seriously troubled the old Missouri Synod long before this... but Pieper's guiding hand kept it from harm until he died in 1931... he kept it in God's Word and in the pure doctrine of Justification.  Graebner could not have gone public with his 1939 pronouncement while Pieper lived.
The present controversy
Page 163
highlights the perpetual struggle to find an adequate understanding of what the condemnations in our confessions mean, and that these condemnations are not a sad sign of the lack of Christian love of the people in the fourth, fifth, or sixteenth centuries. Such condemnations are a characteristic feature of the church of all times, because a church that no longer condemns false teachings and has communion in sacred things with heretics, is thereby betraying her Lord.

This is a wonderfully strong statement! ... did he really say "heretics"?  He called those other American Lutheran synods "heretics"...  or did he mean just the Reformed?  After reading Sasse's teaching of "church fellowship", it seems Ziegler has distanced himself from Sasse in this area...

The spirit of our time and others, which is permeated by a totally relativistic mindset, is inherently inimical to confessional Christianity in any form.

"... in any form?"  Are you also defending the Heidelberg Catechism?  ... not just the Lutheran Confessions, but also the Reformed confession?  That is a bit odd... you just earlier pointed out the deceptive nature of the so-called agreements between Lutherans and Reformed... you seemed to even call them "heretics".

To uphold the Confessions not only on paper, but to allow them to form the life of the church means, for example, to practice closed communion.

Ziegler gives an example of "confessional life" to be closed communion.  Although this is a good example, yet did not Ziegler know that the old (German) Missouri Synod had its life in the Confessions and Scripture?... not just in closed communion, but also, for example, the Doctrine of Election (Formula of Concord XI), the Third Use of the Law, and the Doctrine of Justification.  Did Hermann Sasse teach properly on these doctrines?  Someone show me where Hermann Sasse properly taught the Doctrine of Justification – Objective and Universal!  Or will Ziegler claim the Lutheran Confessions do not teach this?

One of the great challenges is to teach this practice today in congregations, so that they understand that this is not expression of a loveless, judgmental, and/or sectarian mindset (the LCMS as a kind of very exclusive country club), but an integral part of the institution of Christ, and that open communion is not a sign of love, but rather of doctrinal and pastoral indifference.

Prof. Ziegler, do you not know that this teaching task is not just a "great challenge", it is impossible without the right Doctrine of Justification?  But with the right Doctrine of Justification, the "great challenge", the great burden, now becomes God's work through His Word.  Ah, but when the people hear that John 3:16 is actually true, that 2 Cor. 5:19 is not just wishful thinking but actually true, then Christians will gasp at the thought of communing with those who do not teach or follow these verses properly!... then "closed communion" appears to the Christians to be the God pleasing way.

Sasse once remarked that every church that gave up closed communion consequently lost the doctrine of the real presence. That is only logical, because, after all, it is up to you, what you think, and to which church you belong. It does not matter in the end, because what is important is your personal relationship to Jesus, abstracted from any ecclesiological context, void of doctrinal content.

This remark of Sasse is weak because "the real presence" is given up when God's Word, the foundation of the sacrament, is given up.  And so churches that "gave up closed communion" first gave up God's Word... something the old (German) Missouri Synod did not do.
- - - - - - - - - Continued in Part 5e - - - - - - - - - -

In the next Part 5e, Ziegler covers "Church and Ministry", or rather "Ministry and Church".  Unfortunately he continues to stumble badly as he brings in the notion that "democracy" influenced the Church Government of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Did he get this notion from Sasse or his colleagues in Fort Wayne?  I wish he had maintained the theological strength he showed from the first part of this essay and in his essay celebrating Walther...

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