Search This Blog

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Founding of Synodical Conference—Justification-1 (w/ Table of Contents): God did bless America!

[2017-12-17: added material to document below on "Who Authored..."]
As promised in the last blog post, this post begins a series presenting an English translation (from the German original) of the essay read at the founding meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872.  (See this post to download original essay.) That meeting included the Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Synod, (Little) Norwegian Synod, and the Ohio Synod – see this blog post for a report on the Ohio Synod after they left the Synodical Conference.  I have given other background information in several other blog posts.

I do not expect most "Sasse-fied" theologians in today's English LC-MS to take note of this for today's LC-MS theologians (and President) are so enamored with Hermann Sasse, that they will only put this Lutheran Doctrine of Justification in historical context, that is their "historical context".  They will pass over the references to Scripture, the Confessions, and to Martin Luther... just like the old Iowa Synod passed over Scripture references (as Walther noted) and as Sasse passed over Franz Pieper's reference to this passage of Scripture:
The scripture cannot be broken. John 10:35
But you dear reader, if you consider yourself a Christian, cannot pass over this doctrine of Justification – it is a matter of spiritual life and death.

This English translation is dedicated to Prof. Roland Ziegler of Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne.  Why would I do this since he uses Sasse to judge the old (German) Missouri Synod?... since he is a coeditor for the published Hermann Sasse: In Statu Confessionis, vol. 3?  It is only because he also seems to understand C.F.W. Walther's theology, in contrast to most other teachers in the LC-MS.

There have been 2 other English translations of this essay in the past:
  1. The Ohio Synod in their Lutheran Standard magazine  1872-1874. This translation is somewhat broken and incomplete.
  2. Prof. Kurt Marquart († 2006)– Justification, Objective and Subjective : a translation ... Synodical Conference in 1872.  This translation may be copyrighted (?) 1982 and has a few areas needing correction.  [Currently available at CTS Bookstore; April 15, 2015 - available to download here on]
So I have decided to provide my own translation and add hyperlinks to the many references.  This is an extensive project since the original text is almost 50 pages long.  But it will be a labor of love.  It will occupy many blog posts which will eventually be tied together with a Table of Contents at the bottom of this post.

The record of this essay is that it was not C.F.W. Walther who presented the Theses to the meeting (it was F.A. Schmidt)... but it has been testified that it was C.F.W. Walther who wrote it.  (For a discussion, read this document below, and see this blog post)  And the message it presents confirms that it could only have been from Walther... for he is The American Luther.

(direct link to Google Doc here)
This is not an ordinary essay – it demonstrates how God blessed America, indeed all Christianity, through the faithful witness of this presentation.  Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses in 1517 in Germany, Walther presented his 12 Theses in 1872 in America.  And it is a testimony to the fact that it was not just the old Missouri Synod who held to the true Lutheran doctrine of justification, but also the old Wisconsin Synod (WELS) and the old (Little) Norwegian Synod (now the ELS).
Prof. Theodore Graebner said in December 1939 that:
"... both Ohio and Iowa Synods for generations past have taught correctly this same doctrine [of objective justification].  As long ago as 1872 ... the public doctrine [of the A.L.C.– Ohio and Iowa Synods] in the areas here placed under suspicion has been the plain doctrine of Scripture as we teach it ourselves."
In this quote, Prof. Graebner was referring directly to this essay from 1872, the founding essay of the Synodical Conference.  Unfortunately his assertion that the Ohio and Iowa Synods (and later the A.L.C. conference) taught the pure doctrine of justification was a direct attack on the teaching of this essay... and gave birth to today's (English) LC-MS.

This version is intended to have the same emphasis of text as the original published German.  Although the whole essay is spiritually wonderful, I will highlight some text and add a few comments along the way.
Several hyperlinks are added, especially for references to Luther and the Lutheran Book of Concord.
Some paragraph breaks have been added similar to the other English translations.  Synchronizing notations have been added referencing the original German text and the other 2 English translations.  Notations spread throughout are as follows:
[SCR xx]= original Synodical Conference Report page #; download original PDF scan, DOC text
[KM xx]= Marquart translation page #;
[LS XXX/yy, xxx-y]= Lutheran Standard magazine translation: Volume/No., page-column #
The text is in a smaller Times font (and indented) to distinguish the essay from other text in the blog post, and to take up less screen space.  I will probably make each Part cover several pages from the original publication.
Soli Deo Gloria!  
BackToLuther, December 5, 2013

Part 1
===============  Synodical Conference–1872  ===============
by C.F.W. Walther
[SCR 20, KM 1], [LS XXX/21, 163-1]

A further subject which actively employed the Conference were the following theses

To this absolutely essential doctrine the Conference devoted seven of its sessions, with particular reference to a controversy waged between the Norwegian Lutherans and the Augustana Synod.

Thesis 1: "The doctrine of justification is the most distinguished chief article of the Christian faith,  whose right knowledge for the salvation of individuals and whose clear proclamation for the welfare of the church as a whole is of incomparable importance and unconditional necessity."

Thesis 2: "The Reformation of the Church through Dr. Luther had its starting point in a renewed understanding, by God's grace, of the pure evangelical doctrine of justification and in the consequent uncorrupted proclamation of this article of faith."

Thesis 3: "In the pure doctrine of justification, as our Lutheran church has presented it again from God's Word and placed it on the lampstand, it is above all about these three points: 1) About the doctrine of the universal, perfect redemption of the world through Christ; 2) About the doctrine of the power and effectiveness of the means of grace; and 3) About the doctrine of faith."

These three theses are largely of an introductory nature, and what is emphasized here is that the article of justification is the kernel and [SCR 21] star of all doctrine, into which all other doctrines have grown into and from which they also flow back out.
= = = = = = continued in Part 2 = = = = = = = = =
Table of Contents 
(to be completed when translation is completed.)
Part 1 - My Intro; Theses 1 - 3: SCR pages 20-21
Part 2 - Discussion of Theses 1 and 2; SCR pages 21-29
Part 3 - Discussion of Thesis 3, 4; SCR pages 29-32
Part 4 - Luther's Galatians Commentary, all is done!; SCR pages 33-35
Part 5 - SCR pages 36-39
Part 6 - SCR pages 40-42: Thesis 4 and 5
Part 7 - SCR pages 43-45: Thesis 5
Part 8 - SCR pages 46-48
Part 9 - SCR pages 49-51
Part 10 - SCR pages 52-54
Part 11 - SCR pages 55-57
Part 12 - SCR pages 58-60
Part 13 - SCR pages 61-63
Part 14 - SCR pages 64-66
Part 15 - SCR pages 67-68 (Conclusion of essay translation)
Part 16a - Remarks - No Christianity, except...
Part 16b - Remarks on Prof. Kurt Marquart
  SCR 1872 - complete translated text in one window
Below is a copy of the above embedded document on the authorship:
Who authored the essay on the Doctrine of Justification
at the first meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872?

In the last 50 to 75 years, the knowledge of this essay has decreased.  Two evidences of this come from professors of the former members of the Conference:
1.  Prof. Kurt Marquart of Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne published the most recent translation of this essay in 1982.  In his "Translator's Notes" section at the end he said "Written probably by F.A. Schmidt..."
2.  Prof. Armin Schuetze of the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod (WELS) said in his book The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor (2000), page 61, that "The doctrine of justification was the subject of the ... 12 theses, prepared by Professor F.A. Schmidt of the Norwegian Synod. (Footnote 24)" In Footnote 24, page 416, he said: "Schmidt's name does not appear with the theses in the Proceedings, but the Lutheraner report names him as author.
3.  Prof. John M. Brenner, in his 2012 dissertation for PhD at Marquette Univ.,  followed the official report by stating (p. 60): “Friedrich Schmidt presented his ‘Theses on Justification.’ 228 The essay involved a lengthy exposition of the cardinal teaching of Scripture on the basis of twelve theses.”
I believe both of these reports are incorrect.  In a previous blog post, I presented my evidence that indeed, although the presenter was Prof. Schmidt, the actual author of the essay was none other than Prof. C.F.W. Walther.  The Der Lutheraner report (August 1, 1872, page 161) of the initial Conference meeting said in German:
Der zweite Gegenstand, der der Synodal-Conferenz zur Besprechung vorlag, waren die folgenden, von Herrn Prof. F.A. Schmidt verabfaßten Thesen über die Rechtfertigung, welche in nachstehender Fassung von der Conferenz als ihr Glaube und Bekenntniß einstimmig angenommen wurden:
Which translates in English to:
The second object to which  the Synodical Conference was presented at the meeting were the following theses on justification drawn up and presented by Prof. F.A. Schmidt, which were unanimously adopted in the following version of the Conference as their faith and confession:
"Verabfaßten" is an archaic word in the German language today but "abfassen" means (according to to compose, draft, or formulate... a similar meaning to "author".  Indeed, Franz Pieper, in his Christian Dogmatics vol. 3, p. 191 n. 89 identified F. A. Schmidt as the author of an 1874 Lehre und Wehre essay on absolution:  “a fine presentation of the doctrine of absolution and defends the doctrine as taught by the Norwegian Synod as Scriptural and Confessional against the attacks of the Swedes and the Iowans”.
But Prof. Franz Pieper positively identified the author of SCR 1872 to be Walther as recorded in many places on  Also Prof. George Stoeckhardt said this in an essay to the Central District in 1894:
Walther says in the report of the synodical conference 1872, 46: “So teach also the Confessions of our church, as in Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession, where it reads according to the Latin: ‘Remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith’ (Concordia Triglotta 45) and ‘we obtain forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification only by faith’ (p. 53).  …” – Essays and Papers, p. 263
- - - - - - - - -  
August Suelflow stated the following in his book Servant of the Word, The Life and Ministry of C.F.W. Walther, CPH 2000, p. 153:
“Walther’s statements [on Justification] at the first meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872 are significant:”
Suelflow does not reveal his reason for identifying Walther as the author  – perhaps he was following Pieper’s statements in his Christian Dogmatics.  He does not mention the usual name of F.A. Schmidt.
- - - - - - - - -
It is my contention, with the testimonies of Profs. Pieper, Stoeckhardt and others, that although Der Lutheraner reported that Schmidt "verabfaßten" the Theses, yet it is Walther himself who is to be considered the author.  I believe the content of this essay presents the heart of Walther, and any input that Prof. Schmidt had was superficial.  I believe that Der Lutheraner's report (written by Walther himself) did not want just Walther's name to be attached to this most Christian of essays, but that it be held by all of Christianity... and so he let it be known that his protégé Prof. Schmidt's name should be associated with it.  

December 2, 2013
Amended Dec. 9, 2014
Amended Feb. 7, 2017 (in red)
Amended Aug. 2, 2017 (in red, on August Suelflow’s testimony)
Amended Dec. 17, 2017 (in red, on John M. Brenner’s statement in his PhD dissertation)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.