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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

LDJ–Part 15 (pages 42-44)—"uncertain saints"?; Word cannot lie

This continues from the previous Part 14 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  In this Part 15, Walther really shows his ultimate knowledge of Martin Luther as he bounces around Luther's many writings, giving quote after quote showing the errors of the Reformed – the sects, schismatics, fanatical spirits, enthusiasts, etc. – the "so-called Protestants".

The reader is encouraged to review Franz Pieper's essay on Walther's teaching regarding the Means of Grace and Justification in an earlier blog post (Part 11).  I just now reviewed Part 10 and found wonderful teaching to explain the pure Lutheran doctrine...  I cannot resist repeating this quote:
"We believe we are not asserting too much when we say that after Luther and Chemnitz probably no teacher of our Church has given more vital witness of the doctrine of justification than Walther.  Walther had Luther as his teacher especially also in this doctrine, and gathered the luminous rays which the later teachers shed upon this doctrine into one beam of brilliant light."
        — Franz Pieper
Underlining follows Walther's emphasis in original.
Hypertext links have been copiously added for reference to original sources and on several subjects.
Highlighting is mine.
= = = = = = = = = = = =  Part 15: Pages 42-44 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Part 14)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther]
[1880-42]  …  Your sins are forgiven.  For God has promised, that He will personally come down and will Himself assure me of the forgiveness of my sins. This takes place, first of all, in Holy Baptism; for there is his command that everyone is to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  And this command is backed up by the promise: ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved,’ Mark 16:16.  Yes, you say, but the baptism is only water!  True it is; but it is not such water alone that is present, for God’s Word is connected with it. So when you go to your parish pastor, who has a special command for this, or to a Christian asking that he comfort you and absolve you from your sin, and he says to you, In the stead of God, I declare to you the forgive­ness of all of your sins through Christ, here you should be certain that your sins are really and truly forgiven by that external Word, for Baptism and the Word cannot lie to you....   Accordingly, the Anabaptists and other sects have all lost forgiveness of sins, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, the Christian church, and all Christian works, because they discard the Word spoken by their neighbor, considering it as of no more value than a cow’s bellowing.  Even if God chose to speak through a cow or some other animal, as He once spoke through a ass, one should nevertheless not despise His Word, but let it be valid; how is it that one despises it, that people speak it by God’s command and order? For though you well hear a human voice, you nevertheless hear God and in doing so certainly find forgiveness of sins there when you accept it with faith.”  (*)  (Walch W1 XIII, 2078-2 080, 2083-2084, paragrs. 15-20, 31; StL Ed. 13b, 2437-2438, 2441, paragrs. 15-20, 31; see also Eugene Klug’s Sermons of Martin Luther: The House Postils, vol. 2, pgs. 83-84, 86; not in Am. Ed.)  [Endnote M]  [W1859-35]
*) Also this is not to be understood as though in the speaking of the formula of absolution by an ordained preacher the mysterious power was built in, to remove from a person the guilt of his sin. Luther [cont'd on 1880-43 footnote]

Melanchthon writes in his Disputation on the Power of the Keys and the Absolution: “The keys are the office (Amt) of binding and loosing sins.  In other words, they are the office of the Gospel itself, for the Gospel is the binding and loosing of sins.  Some understand
[cont’d from 1880-42 footnote] ascribes rather from the basis of Scripture such greatness to absolution, because he ascribes such greatness to the Gospel.  He writes in his evangelical Church Postil in the sermon for Easter Tuesday:  “Absolution is nothing other than simply the preaching and pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins, which Christ here commands men to both to preach and to hear. Since, however, it is necessary to retain such preaching in the church, we must also preserve the absolution;  For there is no other difference between these than that the Word, which is otherwise publicly preached in a general way, and in general to all in the preaching of the Gospel, the same is spoken in particular in the absolution to one or more individuals who desire it.  For Christ has ordered that such preaching of the forgiveness of sins is to go out and be made at all times and places, not only to a whole assembly, but also to individual persons, wherever there are people who stand in need of it, as He says in the Gospel for the following Sunday: ‘Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.’ [John 20:23]  …  For to preach the forgiveness of sins means nothing else than absolving or declaring free from sins, which is done also in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which were also instituted to point out and assure us of such forgiveness of sins. Thus to be baptized or to receive the communion is also an absolution, where forgiveness is, in Christ's name and at his command, promised and communicated to each one in particular.  This forgiveness you should hear wherever and whenever you are in need of it, and should accept and believe it as if you were hearing it from Christ himself.  For, because it is not our absolution, but Christ’s command and Word, so it is just as [Essays1-45] good and effectual as though it were heard from His own mouth.” (Walch W1 Xl, 985-987, paragrs. 67, 69; StL Ed. 11, 721-722, paragrs. 67, 69; see Lenker’s Sermons of Martin Luther: The Church Postils, vol. 2, pg 349-350, paragrs. 67, 69; not in Am. Ed.)  ––  In the sermon for the following Sunday [Quasimodogeniti], Luther writes the following on the words: “As My Father has sent Me, even so send I you.  Receive the Holy Ghost, whosesoever sins you remit,” etc. [John 20:22-23]:  This is what Christ wants to say: When you speak a word concerning a sinner, it shall be spoken in heaven and is as valid as if God in heaven were speaking it;  for He is in your mouth, therefore it is as much as if He Himself were saying it. Now, it is always true that when Christ speaks a word, since He is Lord over sin and hell, and says to you: Thy sins are gone; then they are gone, and nothing can prevent it. Again, if He says: Your sins shall not be forgiven you; then they remain unforgiven, so that neither you nor an angel nor a saint nor any creature can forgive them, even if you were martyred to death.  That same power belongs to every Christian. ... And this is the power we have from his resurrection and ascension. … But in this matter one must proceed carefully,, [cont'd on 1880-44 footnote]

[1880-44] the keys not in general of the office, but of the jurisdiction in the church to bind or absolve individuals. But whether one understands them of the office or the jurisdiction, it is certain that the Gospel can be proclaimed generally as also to individuals; as Christ absolved many individually and commands Peter to forgive the brother who had sinned.  Private absolution is therefore valid and is the true voice of the Gospel, because the Gospel is equally valid, whether it be announced to many or to individuals.  He is an unbeliever who thinks that the Gospel is uncertain when applied to individuals.  This is not offset by the fact that some cry out that man cannot forgive sins;
[cont’d from 1880-43 footnote]  lest we do what the pope does.  For they have reached the point to have the power, that however and whatever they say, so it must be, because they say it. Nay, this power you have not, but the divine Majesty alone has it. They say thus: When the pope speaks a word and says: Thy sins are forgiven; so then they are put away, even if you have no repentance nor believe. By this they mean that they have the power to bestow and withhold heaven, to open or to close it, to place into heaven or to cast into hell; far from it that it should be so.  For it would follow that our salvation depended on human works, powers, and might.  Since that is against the entire Holy Scriptures, so it cannot be true that when you close or open, therefore it must be closed and opened.  Therefore we must rightly understand Christ when he says, ‘Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted,’ etc., that this does not establish the power of him who speaks but of those who believe.” (Walch W1 Xl, 999—1002, paragrs. 14-20; StL Ed. 11, 730-733, paragrs. 14-20; see Lenker’s Sermons of Martin Luther: The Church Postils, vol. 2, pg 359-362, paragrs. 14-20; not in Am. Ed.)  ––  In another place Luther writes:  “It follows further that the forgiveness of guilt does not rest in the earthly power or office of a pope, bishop, priest, or any [other] human being, but only on the Word of Christ and your own faith. For He  did not intend to base our comfort, our salvation, our confidence on human words or deeds, but only on Himself, on His words and deed.  The priests, bishops, and popes are only servants, who hold before you the Word of Christ, on which you should depend and rely with firm faith, as on a solid rock.  Then that Word will save you, and thus your sins must be forgiven. That, too, is why the words are not to be honored for the sake of the priests, bishops, popes, but the priests, bishops, popes for the sake of the Word, as those who bring you God’s Word and message:: you are loosed from your sins.” (Walch W1 X, 1482, paragr. 8; StL Ed. 10, 1235, paragr. 8; Am. Ed. 35, pg 3-22, “The Sacrament of Penance.”)

[1880-45]  for since it is certain that men have the command to preach the Gospel,

= = = = = cont'd in next Part 16 = = = = = = = 
There was a book written about the emerging LC-MS entitled Uncertain Saints: the laity in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, 1900-1970 (by Alan Graebner, Theodore Graebner's son), a particularly devilish title, for God is not the author of uncertainty.  Melanchthon is quoted above saying:
He is an unbeliever who thinks that the Gospel is uncertain when applied to individuals.
And so "uncertain saints" is somewhat of an oxymoron, and author Alan Graebner unfortunately demonstrated the disastrous effects of unbelief among the emerging LC-MS after the death of Franz Pieper.

In the next Part 16...

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