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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stoeckhardt on Missouri-2: Walther’s UOJ (Justification)

This continues from the Introduction publishing the English translation of one of George Stoeckhardt's major convention essays (Table of Contents in Part 1).  In this part 2, I want to reproduce several paragraphs from Stoeckhardt's sub-section on Justification (pgs 262-263) regarding the old Missouri Synod's teaching on this doctrine:
     What and how our Missouri Synod teaches and speaks about justification we see best from its public statements. In the report of the Western District 1874.43 it reads: "It is not faith which first produces justification. Faith is only a laying hold on, a taking, an accepting. Faith must have something in which to believe. Faith takes what is there, what is already in existence. Justification is already won, has occurred, exists before faith, and is not first made possible by faith. In [page 263] accord with God's Word the Lutheran Church says to man: Everything has already been done.  You are already redeemed.  You have already been justified in the sight of God.  You have been saved.  Therefore, you don't have to do anything to save yourself.  You do not need first to become reconciled with God.  You do not have to earn salvation for yourself.  You should simply believe that Christ, God's Son, has already done all this for you, and by faith you partake of this and will be saved.”
     In the proceedings of the Chicago Pastoral Conference 1880, 45-46 we read: “If I believe in Christ, I have righteousness and salvation.  It is already promised me.  It is not true that, if I by faith have appropriated to myself objective righteousness, a new act has been added.  The act has occurred.  By faith I already have righteousness.  Thereafter God does not first need especially to impute it to me.... The minute I believe, I have what faith appropriates.  The minute I believe, God, my God, has judicially forgiven me my sins.”
     Walther says in the report of the synodical conference 1872 [or SCR 1872], 46: "So teach also the Confessions of our church, as in Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession, where it reads according to the Latin: 'Remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith' (Concordia Triglotta 45, Art. VI, #2) and 'we obtain forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification only by faith' (p. 53, Art. XX, #9). So also the Apology: 'By faith alone we obtain remission of sins (C.T. 143). Further: 'Justification is only a matter freely promised for Christ's sake and therefore is already received before God by faith alone.' (C.T. 179, Apology Art. III, #96). These passages clearly demonstrate that first there must be a justification which faith can appropriate, that faith lays hold on it as already existing."
     Further, 59-62: "This treasure, justification, forgiveness of sins, is comprehended in the Word, in the Gospel. It is the hand of God.  Faith is the hand of man. Faith takes what the Word gives. Faith must have something to which it clings. This is the doctrine of universal justification.  In absolution, as well as through the Gospel generally, the treasure which is the forgiveness of sins is distributed. There it is said: Your sins are forgiven you.  And this is God speaking.  Faith now takes what God gives, grants. --  When the pastor absolves you, this is always God's word to you; you can believe that it is God who through the mouth of a poor sinner says to you: As you believe, so shall it be.... As gold remains gold, even when it is stolen or is cast into the mire, thus absolution remains absolution, even though it is despised by unbelievers."  "In absolution God gives and grants, regardless whether it is accepted or not."  "Cursed be the doctrine which makes the worthiness, power, and validity of absolution dependent on my faith."
     This is the voice of our synod with respect to the doctrine of justification.  Is this the true doctrine? What does Scripture say to this?  It shows, first of all, that without any merit on our part we are justified and saved before God by grace, through Christ.
                                                     — G. Stoeckhardt (Georg Stöckhardt)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 
Two points can be brought out from this quote:

1) Who wrote the Report presented and adopted at the first Synodical Conference meeting 1872?  What is Stoeckhardt's testimony?

G. Stoeckhardt, Missouri Synod, page 263
Walther says in the report of the synodical conference 1872...
“...the essay on Justification presented and adopted at the first Synodical Conference Convention of 1872, … Written probably by F.A. Schmidt…”

“The doctrine of justification was the subject of the other set of 12 theses, prepared by Professor F.A. Schmidt…”

Others have testified publicly that the report was Walther's report: Franz Pieper, Martin Günther, and Theodore Engelder – all of whom which were much closer to those involved than Marquart or Schuetze.  So why would today's theologians continue the error that this report was from F.A. Schmidt?  They should have known better.

But the dear Stoeckhardt shows that Walther taught the doctrine of Justification in multiple essays, just as Franz Pieper reported in his extensive essay "Walther as Theologian".  And Stoeckhardt includes a source that is rarely mentioned today – the Chicago Pastoral Conference of 1880 (and 1881).  I plan to publish information on this important conference in the future.

2) Stoeckhardt repeats the beautiful quotes from Walther's essays and declares that these doctrines are those taught by his Missouri Synod:
  • objective righteousness
  • universal justification
Hmmm... I doubt that "objective" and "universal" are barely used in the new CPH book The Lutheran Difference to describe The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.
In the next Part 3, I deal with Stoeckhardt's defense of cosmology of the Bible...

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