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Friday, July 4, 2014

LDJ–Pt 29(p 84-86)—We are papists without Pope; wicked can believe? are they redeemed?

     This continues from the previous Part 28 presenting a new translation of C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  In this Part 29, Endnote [L] is finished and [M], and [N] are addressed.
 "We ... are papists without a pope" — C.F.W. Walther
==>> President Matthew Harrison: Could you also pronounce this terrible message to your LC-MS like Walther did to his old (German) Missouri Synod?  But more importantly, can you not see that your "Witness, Mercy, Life Together" (WMLT) program generally misses the mark that Walther brings to his Synod?  Maybe you should go back to Walther's "here and now", instead of being so intent on learning from (and justifying the errors of) Hermann Sasse? (see Harrison's Prelude to Letters To Lutheran Pastors,  pages lxxxiii-lxxxv)
     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 29: Pages 84-86 (1880)  = = = = = = = = = = = =
(cont'd from Part 28)
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
[by C.F.W. Walther] that they are indeed Old Lutherans, because they have a pastor of our Synod; and yet the outlook of their faith is so saddening. [1880-84] The faith is difficult but even that not everyone clings to the pure doctrine herein is the misery of all miseries, and it reigns there still so often.  We ourselves should take this more to heart than we have until now.  We should make the chief doctrine also our chief business!  What does God aim for finally with all preaching?  Nothing else than to give us the certainty of the forgiveness of our sins.  Where we have that, everything is good and pure.  However God daily provides that every day this be newly preached, because we are so shamefully unbelieving people.  Many a one probably says, “If God would tell me personally that [Essays1-59] my sins are forgiven, as he said it to the paralytic, then would I believe it; but what can that help me that the preacher says it, since he doesn’t know how my case stands, in that he no doubt holds me more penitent than I am?”   Where else does this come from than that one does not believe, that Christ has acquired everything, that God has indeed spoken actually and directly, and that Word, that everything for our good is done, — that, as Christ hung on the cross, one died for all, then were all dead [2 Cor. 5:14],  all have been atoned the penalty for their sins at the cross, — that Word God has sealed in that He raised His Son Jesus from death, and that now forgiveness from Him is placed in the Word we speak.  But whoever does not believe this denies the resurrection of Christ.  To bring the forgiveness of sins is now not so very difficult; but well to believe it.  It says: “According to your faith be it unto you!” [Matt. 9:29].  But would the forgiveness not be in the word that we speak, there would be nothing to believe.  As surely as God regards faith in us, so surely is forgiveness in the words.  And this is the greatest grace, that God has directly linked forgiveness to the Word, because no one could certainly know whether God really spoke to him — as indeed when also the sects cannot with certainty know [W1859-59] from whom of what they experience on the mourners bench.  It now misses [1880-85] only the mark that one believes, that to faith alone is everything situated.  That we now in so many ways are papists without a pope, and that, instead of seizing forgiveness freely through faith, we first with our repentance want to earn it, we owe in large part to Zwingli’s accursed doctrine and other learned gentlemen of his peers.
Here, however, some might well ask: “If your pastors always forgive sins, then why do you turn some back from the Sacrament [of the Lord’s Supper]?”  Answer: For this reason, that their wicked life is to us a sure sign that they cannot believe they are redeemed, even though they truly are.  A wicked one indeed does not once seriously believe a just God: how can he be expected to believe a gracious God?  Now we are given the commandment that we should not misuse the name of God.     But to use it for absolution in relation to those of whom we know that they cannot believe, is misusing Him.  That is why we turn back such people, and not perhaps as though we thought the Word, when spoken over the unrepentant, did not bring forgiveness.  Therefore the sinner may be in any kind of condition; if all the devils cried out that he was damned and he himself saw nothing in himself, as a Judas: but can he seize forgiveness in faith, so he may do it confidently, and as he believes, so it is done for him [cf. Matt. 8:13].
[M] Luther masterfully captures the spiritual disease of our time. How marvelously he contrasts forgiveness through the Word with the “inner light” of the Enthusiasts.  They regard everyone that yet bases forgiveness of sins on the Word as unconverted, and they call only him converted who can boast of so-called experiences and builds on them.  These experiences or special happenings and feelings in the soul and spirit they call the grace of God, while Holy Scripture presents grace as that which is in the heart of God-His favor, mercy, and love, which [grace] is  [1880-86] set forth in the Word and now should only be believed, and on the other hand calls the experiences gifts.  And indeed these are even wonderful gifts; but whoever bases the forgiveness on them has built on sand, because God sometimes lets sweet feelings arise also in hypocrites, and should he be saved, so must the Holy Spirit first lead him away from that and to trust in the Word. [see Christian Dogmatics 2, pg 17, Christliche Dogmatic Band 2, pg 16]
[N] How one earlier put in place of the Gospel such things as monastic life, pilgrimages, and such things, so nowadays they are  mourners’ bench, camp meetings and class meetings, temperance movements, and anti-smoking unions.  So, e.g., whoever puts away his pipe. that is applied to conversion; whoever does not do it, must be of the devil.  So is the sweet Gospel, which itself mirrors Heaven with all its glory, inverted into the Law, and miserable dirty tricks where nothing of the love of God is situated, adorns one with the precious words of Scripture, the poor souls thereby plagued unto their death, only to plunge with them into the abyss of hell.  And before such false saints we ourselves have often great respect: simple-minded Christians hardly dare ever to speak against their miserable stuff and, in contrast, to boast about the righteousness of Christ obtained in Holy Baptism.  God help us improve it!  The sects know how to lead nobody to trust in the Word; at most they can direct poor sinners to prayer with the false [W1859-60] consolation that they finally may thus obtain grace from God.  However this is nothing else than a denial of Christ, because no one acquires grace for themselves through prayer:  It is already there in the Word, and in prayer we call God now only to give us faith in this Word.  The more we draw here, and so from the fountain of grace, so much more will we find then also the gift itself, that more and more the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, which then ignites our love as a true fruit within us.  Only faith alone brings true love. Why is there so [1880-87] little of it, except because of the false doctrine about faith?
= = = = = = = = =  cont'd in Part 30  = = = = = = = = =

In researching for the translation of this section, I found that Franz Pieper quoted almost the entire Endnote [M] in his Christian Dogmatics, volume 2, page 17 (page 16 of Christliche Dogmatik II).  How this shows that Pieper followed Walther (and Luther) and that God granted the old (German) Missouri Synod a second great Lutheran teacher to follow in the footsteps of The American Luther.  In another quote, Walther clearly shows that the wicked cannot believe:
...their wicked life is to us a sure sign that they cannot believe they are redeemed, even though they truly are.
In contrast, WELS District President Jon Buchholz spoke a muddled message when he said:
There are many impenitent and unbelieving people in the world who embrace God’s forgiveness wrongly and imagine it to be theirs, even while they are living in impenitence and unbelief. 
And Walther jolts us Lutherans, who may sympathize with the Reformed, with this statement concerning the place of prayer:
... no one acquires grace for themselves through prayer:  It is already there in the Word.
How is that for objectivity?  We don't call down grace, it's already there in God's Word, and through it also in the Sacraments.  And then this quote from The American Luther:
Only faith alone brings true love.
Now we know why there is so little love in the world, and why Harrison's call for "Witness, Mercy, Life Together" lacks Walther's call for true faith... to believe God at His Word.  In the next Part 30...

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