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Monday, May 19, 2014

Eberle of Germany, faithful Lutheran in 1859 (uncovered gem)

I am interrupting this LDJ series to publish the complete article that C.F.W. Walther quoted in his essay.  The article was published in the first issue of 1859 in the journal Zeitschrift für Protestantismus und Kirche, and dealt with the "Union Question", which was evidently a proposal of union between Lutherans and Reformed in Württemburg (or Wuerttemburg) Germany – article in Wikipedia here.  Notably, this church seems to still calls itself "Lutheran".

So why would I take a whole blog post to publish this article?  Because C.F.W. Walther saw in it a wonderful spark of life in his native country of Germany...  a spark that excited him enough to include portions of it in his essay on The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, in footnotes to pages 66 and 67 of the 1880 book (pages 48 & 49 of original 1859 report).  After downloading Eberle's article and researching it a bit, I believe that Walther would have gladly included almost all of it if he had the time and space to present it to his dear Missouri Synod.  So with the advantage of the Internet at my disposal, I, BackToLuther, will publish a great German pastor/theologian's essay as it relates to
the difference between John Calvin and Martin Luther.
Who was Christian Gustav Eberle (or Chr. G. Eberle):
Eberle, Christian Gustav, a Lutheran minister of Germany, was born in 1813, and died Dec. 9, 1870, at Ochsenbach, in Würtemberg. He published, Luthers Glaubensrichtung (Stuttgard, 1858): — Luther ein Zeichen dein widersprochen wird (ibid. 1860): — Luthers Evangelien-Auslegung aus seinen homiletischen und exegetischen Werken (ibid. 1857). See Zuchold, Bibl. Theol. i, 302. (B. P.)
Because of its importance to C.F.W. Walther, I have taken a few weeks to translate the entire essay, 14 pages.  The subject matter is of no small significance.  Eberle deals with
  • certainty of salvation
  • how Luther's theology developed different than Calvin's
  • objective versus subjective, a heart faith versus a head faith
  • how modern theology loses its way
  • Germany's struggles with unionism
  • Communion fellowship issues
Below I present my full translation into English of this article (German text here):

Some quotable quotes:
  • many these days, of which you can hear the remark: they are not able to decide between Luther and Calvin in the doctrine of Communion, but feel attracted to Luther
  • Luther was "... as one who came immediately from the prayer chamber or from the battlefield: while the works of modern theology are for the most part taken in on the very first page entirely in the study and the library room
  • This more artificial way to win the truth can but not place Calvin as an equal alongside Luther, as a reformer beside reformer.
  • [the Union, or unionism] deprives objective certainty for those that search for certainty of their salvation in Christ and puts it on the vacillating ground of subjective conviction.
  •  it is a hundred times easier to believe a general truth [i.e. the Gospel] than to personally appropriate to oneself what it says
The red text in the essay indicates that there are a few areas that seemed questionable relating to Communion fellowship between Reformed and Lutherans.  These seemed a bit odd to me as most of the essay brought out the differences in doctrine quite well.  I believe Walther would have also questioned Eberle on these points.  Nevertheless Walther found wonderful passages of comfort in Eberle's essay and so wanted to include them in his own essay.  Especially his use of the term "objective certainty of salvation" sparked Walther's enthusiasm.  How Walther's heart ached over the ravages of unionism in his former country of Germany.  But Eberle remained as a watchman on the walls, Isaiah 62:6.

Indeed, Württemberg Germany, you can point not only to the famous follower of Luther, Johannes Brenz, but also to

Christian Gustav Eberle, 
defender of the Lutheran teaching of
objective certainty of our salvation.

I will return now to continue with Walther's essay The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, Part 24, pages 69-71.

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