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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Commenter: Not prudent– those in hell as redeemed?

A comment has come in regarding a bold statement that Walther made in the LDJ essay Part 28.  
I’ll refer to the commenter as “Mr. K”.  He said:
Those in hell have forfeited their redemption. It is not prudent to speak of those in hell as redeemed; better, they were redeemed. One can not possess what he has cast off in rejection.
Mr. K’s comment concerned this statement of Walther:
“also those are redeemed that are sweating in hell”
So, would you, Mr. K, also say that it was not prudent for
  • Walther to say “"…you often hear pastors preach, 'You are saved if you believe.' What they should be saying is, 'You are saved so that you might believe.'"”?
  • Walther to say about an impenitent sinner after absolution, that he has no benefit by his unbelief, that “However, this is certain that you have been absolved”?  (from The Proper Distinction…, pg 376, see here; see also my letter to Prof. Eugene Klug, †2003)
  • Franz Pieper to say that the Lutheran Confessions teach “threefold universalism”?
  • Luther to preach in a sermon on John 1:29 that “Yes, He assumes not only my sins but also those of the whole world, from Adam down to the very last mortal.”?
  • the Saviour to say “For God so loved the world” and “that the world through him might be saved”? (while He also said “he that believeth not is condemned already”) - John 3:16-18
  • the Saviour to call Judas “Friend” (Matt. 26:50) for he surely knew Judas, as he approached the Saviour to betray Him, was going the Hell?
  • Peter to say that the “false prophets ... [deny] the Lord that bought them” (2 Peter 2:1)? ... would you say that Peter was referring only to future “false prophets” and not past “false prophets” who are “sweating in hell”?
  • God to say through the prophet Ezekiel that “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked”, i.e. the unbelievers? (Ezekiel 33:11)

A so-called “prudence” on this point is the starting point of a misunderstanding of “grace”,  gives me the thought that somehow my faith makes me better than those in Hell... but I'm not.  I am no better than Judas.  I am no better than those of Sodom and Gomorrha.  A so-called “prudence” on this point begins to take away my faith… that somehow my faith makes me a better person before God than those who rejected their Saviour.
Walther showed prudence, but it was not to take away from his major premise.  He was careful in the SCR 1872 essay to use the proper word regarding unbelievers (see here) that though they were truly redeemed, yet their pardon was not accepted in true faith.  And in this 1859 LDJ essay, he used prudence in relation to the false teaching of Antinomians, but this never ever took away the sweet Gospel, but rather upheld its sweetness.  No the great charge against the true Evangelical message was by the Papists as they cried out against the “Protestants” that they gave the people “license”, as if to say they gave the people license to sin.

I confess: If those sweating in Hell were, but are not now redeemed, then I am going to Hell.  Indeed, it was this very forcefulness of Walther that pulled me out of my wretchedness...

Indeed, for this very reason I warned the generally faithful Prof. Eugene Klug (†2003), who even now is largely forgotten in the LC-MS because of his testimony against Hermann Sasse's error) concerning this false prudence…   To his credit, even though Prof. Klug responded to me twice, he did not refute my major point to him, a point that is essentially identical to Walther’s “imprudent” statement – or what I would call Walther’s Last Word.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
But isn't there a contradiction even in the way you express your objection?
“Those in hell have forfeited their redemption.”  and “One can not possess what he has cast off in rejection.”
Does not this say that those “sweating in Hell” are the ones who did the forfeiting, not God? … that they are the ones at fault, not God?  Does it not admit that that redemption was valid for them and the only reason for the use of a past tense is because they refused by their unbelief the pardon “while it is day”, not because God withdrew His payment also for them?  
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
I am concerned that the major point of your comment is that

“It is not prudent to speak of those in hell as redeemed; better, they were redeemed.”

This statement is very much like the remark Prof. Kurt Marquart made on the SCR 1872 essay: must... avoid one-sided overstatements (e.g. "all the damned in hell receive the status of pure, forgiven saints and children of God")
Also like the statement of WELS DP Jon Buchholz who said:
There are many impenitent and unbelieving people in the world who embrace God’s forgiveness wrongly and imagine it to be theirs
Those who make “awkward” or “one-sided overstatements” or “caricatures” [Hartman of Kokomo?, Larry Darby?, GJ?, etc, etc] only attempt to paint God’s surpassing grace as something twisted.  But that does not stop Walther (or Luther) from presenting the pure, sweet Gospel.

I implore you to read again the “King’s pardon” analogy of Luther and Walther.  Did they say that the “King’s pardon” was withdrawn because the “pardonees” refused the pardon?  No.  No, those “sweating in Hell” will have exceedingly harsh torment (Luke 16:24) for they will know that the gift was also given to them and they rejected it (Luke 14:18), as you, Mr. K, well say, “One can not possess what he has cast off in rejection”.

No.  I will throw off all so-called “prudence” which makes me begin to doubt my redemption, for I was in Hell in my unbelief until the Saviour in so many ways showed me His universal grace.  As for example the lawyer in the account of the Good Samaritan wanted to justify himself, to justify himself before others, even those “sweating in Hell”, and so the Saviour’s preaching of the Law was not to get him to reform his life, but to repudiate his own righteousness, and see the true Saviour of the world standing before him.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
As I reviewed past blogs, it struck me that you, Mr. K, in an earlier comment, did not raise an objection of “imprudence” against Franz Pieper’s statement of the “threefold universalism” of the Lutheran Confessions.  No, rather you said:
All are saved; some are saved. The saved are those who have faith. The unsaved are those that reject their salvation on account of unbelief.”
How well you stated this! (cf. John 3:16-18)  Then you related that you came to this understanding by “the fine writings” of the WELS (a former member of the Synodical Conference that agreed to SCR 1872) on the doctrine of Election:
What brought much of this into focus for me as a former WELsian who was suspended for taking issue with these 'caricatures', are the fine writings in the WELS essay files regarding Election and the controversies regarding it.”
You can largely thank the Formula of Concord of the Lutheran Confessions for your understanding… doesn’t that make you a Confessional Lutheran?  I suspect that paragraph # 28 of the section “XI. Election” from the “Thorough Declaration” (or “Solid Declaration”) has the most impact on our subject here.  Franz Pieper used this to bolster his striking “threefold universalism” statement:
Therefore, if we wish to consider our eternal election to salvation with profit, we must in every way hold sturdily and firmly to this, that, as the preaching of repentance, so also the promise of the Gospel is universalis (universal), that is, it pertains to all men, Luke 24:47. For this reason Christ has commanded that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations. For God loved the world and gave His Son, John 3:16. Christ bore the sins of the world, John 1:29, gave His flesh for the life of the world, John 6:51; His blood is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 1:7; 2:2. Christ says: Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matt. 11:28. God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all, Rom. 11:32. The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. 3:9. The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, Rom. 10:12. The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe, Rom. 3:22. This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one that seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life, John 6:40. Likewise it is Christ's command that to all in common to whom repentance is preached this promise of the Gospel also should be offered Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15.

I believe that in this paragraph #28, you are hearing the heart of the blessed Martin Chemnitz, the “Second Martin”.  And that Walther’s bold statement of
“also those are redeemed that are sweating in hell”
is far from being “imprudent” but rather the signal that C.F.W. Walther is not only The American Luther, but I would now, after your comment, also call him the “Third Martin”... and Franz Pieper the “Fourth Martin”.

Indeed, Mr. K, I must thank you for your comment, not for the objection you raise, but to once again dig deeply into Luther, Walther and Pieper to find out again the answer to the question:
Did he really say that?
...those outrageously bold statements… statements which clearly answer this most basic question of Christianity: “What must I do to be saved?

Nothing, only believe.  Nothing, just open your mouth wide… Nothing, just sit there and make room in your lap for the Greatest News, the Greatest Treasure that man could never dream of (1 Cor. 2:9)… only believe the Good News:
Isaiah 55:1 –  Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.


  1. You misunderstood.

    It's like this:

    All are redeemed; some are redeemed
    All are saved; some are saved.
    All are justified; some are justified.
    All sin is atoned for; some sin is atoned for.


    All those that don't reject their salvation are saved.
    Some (most according to the Bible) of those reject their salvation and are lost.

    Even Luther said that those who die in rejection would truly realize that their sins WERE forgiven.

    1. To say “some sin is atoned for” and then add that you place emphasis on the past tense word “WERE”, i.e. that God has withdrawn His forgiveness, or His pardon, that He earlier had given…

      Let the reader judge whether I have indeed “misunderstood” Mr. Krohn.

      And just so there is no misunderstanding of exactly what Walther did say, here is his original German wording:
      ...als weil man nicht glaubt, daß Alle bereits erlös't, auch selbst die erlöst sind, die in der Hölle schwitzen...
      Now here is the translation of Everette W. Meier that was published in the CPH book Essays For The Church, Vol. I, page 58:
      Furthermore, why is there disinclination to private absolution as if one does not believe that all are already redeemed, even those who are sweating in hell, and that all that is needed now is that you know and believe this and that you share in the treasure of redemption won by Christ—precisely what happens so comprehensibly in private absolution, where God calls out to each one, “You are meant!”?
      Dear reader: Does Walther’s phrase make you “sweat” or are you relieved that indeed God is already reconciled to you too? The apostle Paul bids us believe the later and so "be ye reconciled to God" 2 Cor. 5:20

  2. It is not so much God doing the withdrawing, but the unbeliever doing the rejecting which causes the withdrawal. Come the final judgement, those in hell are left with nothing but their self righteousness, for this is what damns them. In the case of Saul, God withdrew His spirit finally for his rejection. Does it not stand to reason that the merits of Christ went with that withdrawal?

    1. It certainly does “stand to reason”, but that reasoning, our reasoning, throws out all understanding of the Bible, grace, Justification, Luther, the Reformation, Walther, Franz Pieper, all proper distinctions of Law and Gospel… and ultimately leads to Hell.

      No indeed, if Christ’s merits do not now also apply for Saul, then I am going to Hell. Indeed it is my great joy now that in Heaven I will be singing the praises of my Saviour whose merits paid the price, not just for me, not just the believers, but also for the sins of Judas, and yes, also for Saul… for all.

      2 Peter 3:9 is a verse that makes the Reformed teachers squirm or “sweat” as they try to get their people to “do God’s will”:
      The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

      “For God so loved the world” – these are the words Luther recited to himself on his death bed. Luther consoled himself with this fact – God’s universal grace, not his “reasoning”. And this shows that Luther considered himself no better than anybody else who ever lived. Ah, but he is the great Reformer, for he believed God at His Word… and so did Walther.

      I was going to ignore this last comment of yours and not publish it, except for the fact that your last sentence was a question. Was it rhetorical or not? However further comments on this post are now closed, for I must move on to finish this great LDJ essay of Walther.


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