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Monday, July 27, 2015

English Conf. 1872— Walther's 16 Theses in English (more Convention Essays)

Continuing with the publishing of new material on my Convention Essays blog post, I am republishing an earlier original English – not from the German – essay delivered by C.F.W. Walther to the very early English language Lutherans who wanted to follow these German language Lutherans who were teaching purely according to the Lutheran faith, according to the Lutheran Book of Concord.  —
But before I publish the full essay in a text box, I want to extract all 16 Theses so that they may be previewed by the reader to examine the contents.  It will be noticed that they display a remarkable similarity to other doctrinal theses by him and Pieper.  This essay has been republished by Concordia Publishing House most recently in their newest Walther's Works series – Church Fellowship.  Before that, it was published in the 1992 Essays for the Church, Vol. 1, 1857-1879 book that is out of print.  Prof. Charles Arand wrote in 1992 in his Foreword:
"All in all, these are perhaps most valuable for not only showing Walther's practice in seeking and maintaining unity, but as a helpful summary of Walther's theology." 
Highlighting is mine:
Thesis 1.
A.  The written Word of God is the only rule and standard of Faith and Life.
B.  The written Word of God is the only source of Christian knowledge.
C.  The Word of God is always to be understood literally; —not always, indeed, properly; but figuratively only for cogent reasons.
D.  The Word of God is its own interpreter. It is not to be interpreted by reason, tradition, or new revelations.
Thesis 2.
Man by nature has no free will in spiritual matters, and hence he is not able to co-operate towards his conversion.
Thesis 3.
By virtue of its personal union with the Godhead divine properties are really communicated to the human nature of Christ.
Thesis 4.
Christ has perfectly and completely reconciled the whole world unto God.
Thesis 5.
A.  By the means of grace alone, to wit, the Word and the Sacraments, the merit and benefits of Christ are really communicated to men.
B.  The Gospel is not a mere announcement of the grace of Christ, but it is also at the same time an offer of the same to all who hear, and a communication of it to all who believe.
C.  Private absolution is the Gospel directed to individual persons and an offer and donation of the remission of sins on the part of God.
D.  Absolution demands faith, and faith alone receives what is offered and given by it; neither absolution, nor any other means of grace, operates ex opere operato.
Thesis 6.
A.  Faith alone justifies and saves. This is the main article of the whole Christian religion.
B.  Faith, if it is true faith, renews a man’s heart, mind, disposition and all faculties, purifies the heart and is active in charity and good works.
Thesis 7.
Good works are only such as are commanded by God, provided they are done in faith.
Thesis 8.
A.  Baptism effects regeneration and imparts everlasting salvation to them that receive the same in faith.
B.  By sins against conscience the grace of Baptism is lost.
C.  Baptism stands immovable on the point of God, even when man falls; by repentance, therefore, he may and shall return to the same.
Thesis 9.
In the Holy Supper the true body and blood of Christ are truly present, are distributed under the bread and wine, and eaten and drank both by the worthy and unworthy communicants; by the former for the remission of sins, by the latter unto judgment.
Thesis 10.
A.  It is a part of Christian liberty to be freed from the Jewish ceremonial and political laws.
B.  By virtue of this Christian liberty a believer in the time of the New Testament is no more bound to the observance of a Sabbath.
Thesis 11.
A.  The Church, in the proper sense of the term, is the invisible totality of all true believers in Christ.
B.  The characteristic marks of the Church are pure doctrine and unadulterated sacraments.
C.  Ecclesiastical communion is to be cherished only with those who agree in all articles of faith.
Thesis 12.
A.  It is the duty of the Church to maintain church-discipline and, consequently, to excommunicate obstinate errorists or sinners.
B.  Applicants to communion must be examined ere they are admitted.
C.  Ignorant people are not to be admitted to the sacrament.
Thesis 13.
The power of the keys is not an exclusive privilege of ordained ministers, but a power of the whole believing Church that possesses the same originally and immediately.
Thesis 14.
A.  Ministers do not form a peculiar holy priestly order in opposition to laymen.
B.  The pastoral office is nothing but an office, instituted of God, of ministering unto the Church.
C.  To call preachers is a right of the congregation to whom they are to minister. Ordination is only a confirmation of this call and an apostolic ecclesiastical institution.
Thesis 15.
The doctrine according to which a glorification of the Church in a millennial reign is to be expected, is a contradiction to several articles of the Christian faith and is consequently to be rejected.
Thesis 16.
The Romish pope is the Antichrist, as prophesied in the Holy Scriptures.

A full scanned copy of the original publication, and the full text of the same, may be obtained from the original Convention Essays blog post (1872-English Lutheran Conference-Walther-Sixteen Theses.pdf). 

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