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Monday, March 23, 2015

WELS spark of life: Souksamay Phetsanghane - UOJ defense; Laotian Luther?

Pastor Souksamay Phetsanghane
St. Paul's Luth., Mauston, WI
[2016-09-21: updated links including Korthals' essay at wlsessays.net]
      New research of WELS essays on the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ) has turned up a most heartening discovery – a wonderful defense of UOJ.   This kind of defense is very rare today.  (Could it be an answer to my prayer or 2012?)  I had previously (Nov. 5, 2012) highlighted concerns with the WELS on this very doctrine.   But now comes an essay delivered about 1 year ago that is quite a breath of fresh air for a Christian.  It is
"Thoughts on Objective Justification: Selections from Abraham Calov's Biblia Illustrata".  
When I first discovered this essay, I was worried that it would conclude with caveats against UOJ, but no!... it wholeheartedly defends it.
      The title could have been even more specific for it quotes Calov in defense of Universal, Objective Justification.  –  The essay is not properly noted on the wlsessay.net website with the author as Souksamay Phetsanghane (SOOK-sa-may PET-sang-hahn), only Abraham Calov.  This is a shame because it is Phetsanghane who is bringing this important defense of UOJ to today's theology, to his WELS synod.  The essay, especially his "Excursus", shows a true Christian scholar with an impressive knowledge of theological languages.  I may not know the languages, but Oh! how happy I am to learn from him.
      There is another disappointment when reading this essay, not from its content, but in discovering that Another essay he refers to is by "James Korthals" from 2013 is not  now available on the Internet.  The essay was entitled “Universal/Objective Justification: An Historical Perspective.”  I would have been skeptical about this essay except for several quotes that Phetsanghane extracts that clearly show (Prof.?) Korthals also seems to defend UOJ as he expounds the error of Samuel Huber (as Jack Kilcrease does) and uses some of the material from the 1872 essay of C.F.W. Walther at the founding meeting of the Synodical Conference.  For now, I will have to content myself with only these quotes in Phetsanghane's essay.

Wow! Two recent essays within the WELS that want to prove that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is truly evangelical!  I am most heartened in the face of such apostasy emanating from the LC-MS.
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Note to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library:

  1. You should add Pastor Souksamay Phetsanghane to your list of authors, and give his name as the author of this essay... even if he requests that this not be done!
  2. You should acquire the essay of Prof. James Korthals referenced in Phetsanghane's essay and publish it on your fine repository of Lutheran essays WLSESSAYS.NET . .. ASAP!
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The story of Pastor Phetsanghane's family escape from communist Laos in 1984 is quite notable – it can be found on the Pastors web page of St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church of Mauston, WI.

To: Pastor Phetsanghane
You write most humbly in relation to your fathers in the faith in the WELS synod, an admirable quality that commends you.  Yet you are not to submit to them if and when there are signs of doubt on UOJ.  Martin Luther was the sole defender of God's grace (objective) against the world, also at the Diet of Regensburg in 1541.  Since you know German well enough to translate, may I suggest you do a better translation than I did of Luther's letters concerning this Diet and give its full history.  Luther will be your guide, and it would be wonderful church history that is not well covered, at least in English, to strengthen today's Church.  —  But may I also suggest you tackle another thorny doctrinal issue within the WELS... that of God's change of heart?

Are you trying to replace me as the chief defender of Christianity in the whole world?  I must tell you, Pastor Phetsanghane, that I may have to retract my statement where I consider myself practically the only one today truly defending UOJ, without caveats... for I detect in you a true Christian heart, one that won't shrink back so easily from false accusations of "universalism", or even worse.

I would like to think that you are smiling in your picture not because of your interest in "traveling, fishing, hiking, biking, playing most sports (especially golf and basketball) and seeing new places", but rather because you believe the Gospel that you defend so wonderfully!  I would like to think that the congregation in Mauston, WI that hears your sermons is receiving the good news that grants them the only true mental health, the one that no worldly "mental health" counselors of psychology can give.  I would even like to think you might disagree with Nathaniel Biebert's proposal that perhaps the "third" teacher of the Lutheran Church after Luther and Chemnitz... is Walther, not Gerhard!  —  I would like to think that you are much more thankful to God that He has provided the Rescue from sin, death, and damnation... than even your escape from communist Laos!  —  For me, I would like to think of you as a little "Franz Pieper" in the WELS...

More than that, I would like to think of you as the Laotian Luther!...  Oh, you may not have returned to your native Laos – perhaps that is not possible – but you are perhaps the foremost Lutheran teacher in the world from Laos... nay, perhaps even from all of Indochina! ... could it be from all of Asia?  

But as I was reading your "Excursus" section, I came across another surprise –  you seem not alone in the WELS in your defense of UOJ.  You referenced a paper by James Korthals (surely Prof. James Korthals - updated 2016 – Korthals listed on Directory page) from 2013 entitled “Universal/Objective Justification: An Historical Perspective.”  But why is Professor Korthals' essay not available on WLSESSAYS.NET?  Is it an oversight?  Is his paper still being reviewed before making it public?  ... but that would not make sense because you have quoted from it so profusely...  
==>> Why would the WELS not make public this important paper that seems to defend UOJ?  <<== [2016-09-21: updated with link to now published Korthals' essay at wlsessays.net]
In any case, I will continue to study your essay, and bask in the glow of your defense of the only true Gospel.  May God bless it to His glory!  In Jesus name!  Amen!

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