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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Synodical Conference–1872, Part 6

This continues the series of blog posts (Table of Contents is in Part 1) publishing my translation of the published essay from the inaugural meeting of the Synodical Conference in 1872.  This covers pages 40-42 from the original German essay.  It finishes Thesis 4 and begins Thesis 5.
     You will never find Hermann Sasse teaching like Walther, Pieper, the Synodical Conference... or like Luther on the true Doctrine of Justification.  Oh, he may speak the words "justification by faith alone" which are very Lutheran sounding words, but what he means is a "faith" that in the final analysis is like the teaching of the opponents of the old (German) Missouri Synod... a "faith" that is actually meritorious for salvation... synergism.  That is why Sasse opposed Pieper's Brief Statement of 1932 ... and it shows why Pieper so forcefully teaches the correct doctrine of Conversion - see paragraphs 10-16.  Now which is the truly confessional Lutheran: Hermann Sasse or Franz Pieper? (Better study carefully the Lutheran Book of Concord).
     In this portion is the greatest teaching of John 3:16 since the days of Martin Luther and the Reformation.  It is precisely the meaning of John 3:16 that is "The Lutheran Difference".
Part 6
===============  Synodical Conference–1872  ===============
"Over the Doctrine of Justification."
by C.F.W. Walther
(cont'd from Part 5)

...[SCR 40] this matter of justification; that is why they hate the doctrine of the vicarious active obedience of Christ (how the Methodists have for years been writing publicly against this) and of His complete redemption, and imagine that  if they only get rid of their past sins through Christ, then they could become so holy, also in their own lives, that the dear God is caused to marvel. We on the contrary confess ourselves to be lost and condemned sinners, and say God must do all for our salvation and grant us a righteousness over which all the holy angels, yes, over this God's Son Himself marvels. Yes, this is not saying too much; He has done it, for in John 3:16 He says Himself: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," as if to say: no, who would have thought such a thing, so, so much, so fervently God loved the world, that He gave His Son to such a bunch of shameful sinners, and in the sense that He says: There you have Him, now do with Him as you wish; He throws His Son into the fray and yields Him up so completely that they can dishonor and disgrace Him, spear Him, and yes, even slaughter Him, and that God does that the world would be redeemed. At this God's Son marvels with the words: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son."  Therefore also the Apostle says in Rom. 8:3-4: "[3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."  Because he has become our Brother, flesh of our flesh,so is righteousness fulfilled in us; not indeed in every single person, but in our humankind.  Therefore it is so important that Christ has not brought a humanity from heaven, but assumed it from the Virgin Mary, because now our humanity is truly justified in Him.  That we now are to preach, [KM 18] and whoever grasps this is helped, and there is a blessed man. Unfortunate however is he to whom this does not appeal, because God shouts it out into the world: "All things are ready," [Matt. 22:4] now quickly come and accept grace, salvation, and life, but alas, proud man wants to know nothing of this most precious gift of God, which He offers and presents (darreicht) in the Gospel, yes, rightly understood, also to the whole world imparts (mittheilt, mettheilt).  It is better, however, not to use the word "impart" (mittheilen) of the universal justification of the world, because in our German language it almost always signifies not only a presenting (Darreichen) from God's side, but also an acceptance from man's side.

Thesis 5: "As through the vicarious death of Christ the whole world's debt of sin was erased and the punishment for it was endured, so also through the resurrection of Christ, righteousness, life and salvation [SCR 41] have been brought again for the whole world, through Christ's resurrection, and have come upon all men in Christ as the Substitute of all mankind."
This thesis is added to the previous to show how the resurrection of Christ is the basis and cornerstone of justification. By His death Christ shed His blood as the ransom for the sins of the world, through the resurrection of the Son God the Father bears witness that He has accepted the sin-offering of His Son as full payment.  Very frequently Scripture couples the death and resurrection of Christ, and the holy Apostles call themselves, to designate the nature of their office, actually witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, in order to give prominence [LS XXX/23, 179-2] thereby at the same time the great importance of the same. So writes for instance the Apostle Paul in Rom. 4:25: "Christ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (um unserer Gerechtigkeit willen–for the sake of our righteousness). Accordingly if Christ was raised again for the sake of our (as it says according to the original text) justification, so must certainly the resurrection be the foundation on which it rests, without which it would be impossible. But such justification is a universal one, acquired for all men, for it says in Rom. 5:18: "As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon  all men unto the justification of life."  Laden with sin, which through one man came upon all, Christ went into death, and from this sin of all He was absolved by the resurrection, and that which God the Father has hereby done to Christ, happened not for the Son's benefit, but for all mankind. Therefore it is not enough, according to Rom. 8:33-34, that Christ died, but "much more" the resurrection is the last and highest foundation of justification, for through it the Father sealed the fact that He had accepted the offering of His Son for mankind's guilt of sin. Therefore also the Apostle writes in 1 Cor. 15:17-18: "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." Accordingly the whole work of redemption would be pronounced invalid by God, if He had not raised Christ. [KM, LS paragraph]
Many, even among the pastors, do not quite know what to do with the resurrection of Christ.  They read in one place that Christ raised Himself, then another that the Father raised Him, and this they do not quite know how to rhyme, so they think that on the one hand Christ rose in order to prove His divinity, and on the other hand that He was raised in order that the possibility and certainty of our resurrection might be proved thereby.  Even though both are true, neither is the main point. Only [KM 19] to prove His divinity Christ would not have died and then rose again, and the possibility of our resurrection was proved by Christ already by His raising of others; the central point remains that God declared through Christ's resurrection: Christ has now for the sins of the whole world [SCR 42] paid, therefore it is now free of its guilt; now the whole world may exclaim victory; for her freedom from sin and her righteousness is won. This is not a contradiction that man becomes righteous by faith, for when faith is mentioned, then thereby is stressed the personal appropriation (Aneignung) from man's side and its imputation of the acquired righteousness from God's side.  But this would be impossible, if the world had not first been justified by the death and resurrection of Christ, if the absolution in the resurrection had not followed the condemnation in death. [KM paragraph; LS paragraph]
Dr. Luther commenting on the words of Gal. 1:1 "And God the Father, who raised him from the dead", the following:

"The way it looks, St. Paul might well have left out these words, but as I said before, of what his heart is full, his mouth runs over. His heart, mind, and courage are kindled, so that he would like to pour out the incomprehensible treasure of the grace of Christ already in the very outset (Unterschrift, signature), and preach the righteousness of God, which is called the resurrection of the dead.  For Christ, who lives and is risen from the dead, He himself speaks through him and moves him thus; therefore he adds not without reason that he is indeed also an Apostle through God the Father, who has raised up Jesus Christ from the dead. Just as if he wanted to say: It is a matter here of dealing against Satan and the poisonous generation of vipers, Satan's instruments, who go about to overturn the righteousness of my Lord Christ, raised by God the Father from the dead, through whose righteousness alone we too are to be made holy before God, and raised from the dead to everlasting life. But because they dare to overthrow this righteousness of Christ, they resist both the Father and the Son and that which is the work of both. So he lets the whole matter and the main point of this epistle fly out all at once the moment he opens his mouth. But the central point is the resurrection of Christ, who rose again for the sake of our righteousness, Rom. 4:25, and thereby has overcome [LS XXX/23, 179-3] the Law, sin, death, and all misfortune.  Wherefore His overcoming (Ueberwindung) is an overcoming of the Law, of sin, our flesh, the world, the devil, death, of hell, and of all sorts of evil and misfortune. And this His victory and glorious, joyful overcoming he has given to us for our own. Therefore, praise God, we have no distress. For though the tyrants and enemies may well accuse and frighten us, yet they cannot cast us into despair or condemnation, since Christ, who has risen from the dead and defeated them all, is our righteousness. Therefore we say [1 Cor. 15:57] praise and thanks to God in eternity, who hath given us this joyful victory and overcoming through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen." [Galatians Commentary – 1535, American Edition 26, pgs 21-22; St. Louis Edition 9, pg 38-39, parag. 31-32; Walch 8, pgs 1583-1584, parags. 31-32.]

= = = = = = continued in Part 7 = = = = = = = = =
In the next Part 7, ...


  1. With all due respect, I think you've massively misread Sasse. Where on earth do you get the idea that, for him, faith is synergistic and meritorious? He consistently confesses in his essays and preaching that faith is a supernatural gift of God given through Word and Sacrament, without the cooperation of our wills in that process.

    1. I notice you do not challenge my charge that Hermann Sasse never taught Universal, Objective Justification. You rather assert that Sasse did not teach that “faith is synergistic and meritorious”. But it is an automatic corollary that if one does not properly teach Justification, they will either teach “Pelagianism” or “semi-Pelagianism” or synergism or whatever, be it ever so subtle. And their teaching will at best have a “mixed belief”, just as the theology of the opposing American Lutherans (now called ELCA or NALC) in Pieper's day when he warned his Missouri Synod of these dangers with his Last Words. Sasse himself identified with the old Iowa Synod, a bitter opponent of old Missouri and Synodical Conference on this very doctrine.

      However I do take note that you at least seem to place importance on the “bondage of the will”... but you are on dangerous ground, a slippery slope, if you do not have the foundation of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel, … if you do not have the right Doctrine of Justification, i.e. LDJ.

      I will ask you a simple question. It is similar to the question that Dr. Siegbert Becker asked Herman Otten of Christian News on the subject of Justification:

      Do you believe that God has really justified all men? Or: Do you believe that the sins of all men have indeed already been forgiven by God apart from faith?

      I hope so... for it is the Gospel. Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions say so. Otherwise we call God a liar.

    2. Sorry, did not get the links right before in the 5:30pm reply. Here they are:


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