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Friday, December 13, 2013

Synodical Conference–1872, Part 7; Iowa Synod, Norwegians, Gerhard - Universal Justification

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 42-45 from the original German essay.
   The reader will note the reference to the "Iowa Synod" in the first paragraph.  This is the Synod of Wilhelm Loehe (Löhe) and Hermann Sasse, and was a bitter enemy of the old (German) Missouri Synod and the old Norwegian Synod (now "little" Norwegian/ELS).  Find out why they were so vehement in their opposition – it has something to do with the Gospel... and Justification.
Part 7
===============  Synodical Conference–1872  ===============
"Over the Doctrine of Justification."
by C.F.W. Walther
(cont'd from Part 6)

[LS XXX/24, 185-1: Lutheran Standard, Dec. 15, 1872, pg 185, col. 1]
Upon a request of the members of the honorable "Norwegian Synod," [SCR 43] what explanation the Synodical Conference gives in regard to the allegations which the Iowa Synod makes to the effect that the Norwegians had espoused universal justification, it was answered: This doctrine is positively (geradezu) expressed in the passage Rom. 5:18, and therefore it is not only a biblical doctrine but also a biblical expression that the justification of life is come upon all men.  Only a Calvinistic exegesis could explain this passage as meaning  that only the elect are justified. Also orthodox older theologians of our church therefore speak of the universal justification, acquired and extended to all.  Gerhard says that Christ's resurrection is the universal [KM 20] absolution; but absolution is nothing other than justification. (*)   In Christ just the sinful world was condemned to death, and in His resurrection just this world was declared righteous. When the pastor now absolves, he dispenses a treasure which already exists, namely the already acquired forgiveness of sins. If the treasure was not already at hand, then also no pastor could absolve, yes, we could then not speak at all of the justification of the sinner through faith, since believing means – yes, take what is there. Now if the world were not already justified, believing would have to mean working towards justification. The whole preaching of the Gospel is but a message of God about a righteousness which has already been acquired before Him and is there for all. Therefore the language that in Christ the justification of the whole world already happened is not only not objectionable, but is also very biblical.
Those who say that God has made the whole world righteous, but has not declared it righteous, actually deny [LS XXX/24, 185-2] thereby again the whole justification, for the declaring righteous by the Father is not to be separated from the making righteous of the Son, because He raised Christ from the dead. Of course this helps no man as yet to possess the righteousness and salvation, if he does not also accept justification. When a king pardons a bunch of criminals, then they all are from the king's side acquitted of guilt and punishment, but whoever of them does not accept the pardon, must continue to suffer for his guilt; even so it holds with sinners in the justification which has happened through Christ's death and resurrection. Yes, if God had not written and sealed the letter of pardon, so we preachers would be liars and deceivers of the people if we said to them: Only believe, so you are righteous;.  But now God has through the resurrection of His Son signed the letter of pardon for the sinners, and provided His divine seal, so we can preach confidently: the world is justified,
*). The Formula of Concord says: "We believe, teach, and confess that according to the usage of Holy Scripture the word justify means in this article, to absolve." (Art 3, paragraph 7/5,  Müller, page 528 (pg 291, parag. 5?), Triglotta, pgs 792-793).

[SCR 44] the world is with God reconciled; which latter expression too would not likely be needed if the former were not true. Our old dogmaticians too would themselves have used the expression more, since they believed and taught the substance, if not shortly before Gerhard's time that [Samuel] Huber had taught that God had not only justified all men already, but had also elected them to eternal life; to avoid the appearance of conformity with this heresy, they also avoided this expression.  Already in the year 1593 the Wuerttemberg theologians (Heerbrand, Gerlach, Hafenreffer, Osiander, Bidembach, and others) conceded to Huber in reference to the doctrine of justification that he seems to have deviate from them in it "in phrasi tarnen magis ac loquendi modo, quam reipsa," that is, "more however in the expression and in the manner of speaking than in the substance itself" (Loescher's Unschuldige Nachrichten, 1730, p. 567). The Wittenberg theologians (Gesner, Leyser, Aegidius Hunnius, and others) did not want to tolerate Huber's expression: "Christus contulit proprie redemtionem toti generi humano," that is, "Christ conferred the redemption to the entire human race in the proper sense," because the proper impartation, "as it is taken in the theological schools," refers to the appropriation (See Wittenberg Consilia I, 642ff.). [KM 21]
Nonetheless we find no small number of undoubtedly sound theologians who speak of a universal justification or absolution.  Joh. Quistorp († 1648, professor in Rostock) writes in his comments on 2 Cor. 5:19: "The word justification and reconciliation are used in two ways: 1) in respect of the acquired merit, 2) in respect of the appropriated merit. Thus all are justified and some are justified. All, in reference to the acquired merit; some, in reference to the appropriated merit."
John Gerhard, after Luther and Chemnitz without doubt the greatest theologian of our church († 1637, professor in Jena), says in his commentary on Rom. 4:25: "As God has punished our sins in Christ, because they were placed on Him and imputed to Him as our Substitute, he has in the same way, by raising Him from the dead, absolved Him of our sins which had been imputed to Him by this very act, and hence, in Him, has also absolved us." [KM, LS paragraph]
Gottfried Olearius († 1715, professor in Leipzig) says in a treatise about the resurrection of Christ that Christ has paid what He had pledged Himself to pay, and that His payment was sufficient His resurrection proves, inasmuch as it shows that our Substitute was acquitted, because the obligations He assumed were discharged by His satisfaction, and thus we are justified together with Him in the judgment of God.  Hence is written the word of faith: "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again." [Romans 8:34] [KM, LS paragraph]
John Jacob Rambach writes on Rom. 4:25: "Christ was in His resurrection [SCR 45] first of all justified for His own person, Is. 50:5, 1 Tim. 3:16, since the righteousness of God declared that it had been paid and satisfied in full by this our Substitute, and as it were furnished Him a receipt thereof, and that took place in His resurrection, when He was dismissed from his debtor's prison and set free. But since the Substitute was now justified, then in Him also all debtors were justified" (Ausfuehrliche Erklaerung der Epistel an die Roemer, p. 322). The same on Rom. 5:19: "The justification of the human race indeed also happened, as regards the acquisition, in the moment in which Christ rose and was thus declared righteous; but as regards its appropriation it still continues till the last day" (Ibid., p. 386).

Adam Struensee writes: "What Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:15 of the death of Christ: 'we hold [LS XXX/24, 185-3] that since One has died for all, we all have died,' may also be referred to the resurrection of Christ: If one arose for all, then are all arisen and justified; because God was in Christ and reconciled the world with Himself and did not impute their trespasses to them, for He imputed them to Christ" (Zeugnisse der Wahrheit zur Gottseligkeit. VIII. Forts. Halle 1741, pp. 30ff.).

Ph. D. Burk: "To be sure, it is not to be denied that Scripture in several places speaks of justification as of a universal blessing of grace of God upon all men; for instance Rom. 5:18: 'by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life..' Again 2 Cor. 5:19: 'God reconciled the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.' And a witness of the truth must by all means handle the Gospel in such a manner that he lets the universal offer of God's grace to all men be his main work. And every soul which is to come to faith must lay the foundation in the knowledge of this universal justification over all men" (Die Rechtfertigung. Stuttgart, 1763, p. 63ff.). The Iowans know [KM 22] perfectly well that the people whom they seek to defend against the Norwegian Synod take a false stand in the doctrine of justification, of absolution, of the means of grace. Since they nevertheless defend those who teach thus in the Augustana Synod, they indicate sufficiently thereby what spirit's children they are, and how much the pure doctrine means to them. That they care more about arguing than about the thing itself one can gather from the fact that they have said not a word against a writing by Dr. Weber, who in clear words had taught the same thing. But Dr. Weber is after all one of their own, and Pastor Loehe's successor. Now that the Norwegians say the same thing, the Iowans heatedly fall upon them as upon abominable heretics. And what is it after all that they are able to attack? That Christ [SCR 46] bore the sin of the whole world and...
= = = = = = continued in Part 8 = = = = = = = = =
In the next Part 8, ...


  1. Replies
    1. Mr. Krohn:
      Dear God!... the tears flow as I continue going over this essay in detail... it is not over yet! The next Part 8 is breathtaking!
      You may thank me, but I wonder that you are in reality thanking God... through Jesus Christ Our Saviour, the Saviour of all men! What a joy for me to read your comment!


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