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Monday, July 14, 2014

LDJ–Pt 33—Concluding remarks: no serious witness; mere use w/o faith?; Spirit or philosophy?; Law and Gospel; Luther

     This continues and concludes from the previous Part 32 the series on C.F.W. Walther's seminal essay in 1859 (see Part 1 for Table of Contents).  This essay left me in tears many times as I again read it.  The dear Walther poured out his heart to his dear Missouri Synod.  There are many highlights in the last Part 32:
1) No serious witness   -----------------
Walther warns his Synod about the other American Lutherans:
Many of their members [General Synod, or today's ELCA] indeed would still yet be pure Lutherans: but that is just the most dreadful abomination, when these now raise no serious witness in their Synod out of wretched fear of man.
Would not Walther today include the "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod"?  Would he not warn its members who do not raise a serious witness against the false teachers in its midst by calling this lack of evangelical discipline a "most dreadful abomination" and a "wretched fear of man"?... Yes? ... ... No?  Then read Walther again and consider how your Prof. Jeffrey Kloha calls your Bible a "plastic text" and your "conservative" Pastor Martin Noland defends it; your Valparaiso Prof. Matthew Becker merrily spews false doctrine to your young people saying "I had my doubts about Pieper's view of the Bible, the world, and theology already in seminary".

2) Mere use of Sacrament?   (Imagine that!)   -----------------
Prof. David Scaer extols Berthold von Schenk (in his Book Review in CTQ 70:3/4, July/October 2006) for recommending (actually demanding) having Holy Communion at every worship service, and adds the comment "Imagine that!".  But C.F.W. Walther speaks this way on the subject:
... if a mere use of the sacraments has a salutary effect in man, then faith, which is conditional throughout Scripture for the salutary effect of the sacraments, is nothing. Whoever teaches that, certainly is no Lutheran.
Surely Prof. Scaer does not intend to say Communion has a salutary effect without faith... or does he?  Is Prof. Scaer a true Lutheran?  Hmmm, good question.

3)  Testimony of the Holy Spirit, or Philosophy?   -----------------
And this statement by Walther made me laugh: we in fact have a spiritual kingdom through faith, that we already so possess forgiveness of sins, righteousness, peace, the seal of the Holy Spirit, sonship of God, and all spiritual goods that we know nothing more to wish for.
How Walther's statement smashes the crass use of philosophy by Pastor Martin Noland to solve the problem of rationalism, as Noland criticizes Franz Pieper's doctrine of the testimonium Spiritus Sancti. (see Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pages 110-129, esp. pgs 116 & 120)   How the modern scholar theologians are hardened instead of saying like the apostle Paul (and Luther):
...for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
4) Mere reading of Scripture can bring to faith   -----------------
...the truth ... that faith alone brings salvation, that indeed the mere reading of Scripture can bring one to faith and therefore can lead to salvation, without regard to which church fellowship a person belongs to, or if he is a member of any church body
Dear God! I am not proud of the fact that I am not a member of any congregation!  Would to God there was a congregation (with a Lutheran pastor) that stood firmly without reserve on the pure Gospel!  ... and defended it against all attacks.

5) Law and Gospel   -----------------
"In his pursuits to try to awaken that lost awareness, the pastor must first make it his main task to learn to rightly divide Law and Gospel.....Law and Gospel must go necessarily hand in hand."
Walther is known generally as "Mr. Law and Gospel", derived from his well-known book The Proper Distinction Between Law And Gospel, or now abbreviated Law and Gospel.  The reader will see in the above quote the prelude to Walther's later lecture series.  But although the above phrase seems simple enough, yet its application is the difference between Heaven and Hell itself.  Indeed, Walther gives a shorthand version of his later popular lecture series:
[we should] so preach the Law over against secure and obvious worldlings as if there were no Gospel, that it clearly announces only the anger of God over sin and brings them no consolation, nothing but the judgment of the curse and damnation.  But as soon as they realize that God is serious with His Law, then they hear the Gospel, which gives no other counsel than: “Believe on the Lord Christ!” and not to first do this or that in order to be called a child of God. 
6) Back To Luther   -----------------
Whoever therefore would learn how to preach, preach according to Luther, on whom God poured out the highest gifts than on anyone since the prophets and apostles, and he has equipped His instrument to bring the world the pure Gospel again and to fatally chop the root of the 1,000-year-old oak of the papacy.
Wasn't Walther's essay really bringing the Reformation century back to us?... to the Reformer who was given the "highest gifts than on anyone since the prophets and apostles"?

7) All Sins   -----------------
And finally to end this series, I must let the dear Walther speak with this final quote:
... the certainty of the forgiveness of all sins, and this alone, makes the love of Christ burst forth in us and henceforth makes it impossible for us to live in the works of the flesh and without truly good works.
Dear God!  Dr. Walther, no leading teacher of the Lutheran Church has so sweetly and comfortingly preached the dear Gospel since the Reformation century, than you.

I will end this series as I began it with the prayer:
May Walther's essay be to the reader's "mental health" and spiritual well-being...  for all time and eternity.  May it be so, God Grant It... for Jesus sake.  Amen!  Amen!

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