|Pastor Gustav Knak|
(Kulturportal West Ost)
"In the storm of indignation that arose in all circles against this 'denial of the Copernican solar system', E.W. Hengstenberg distanced himself from the literal understanding of the Joshua passage ... since it was only a poetic report." (Evangelische Kirchen-Zeitung 1868, June 10, p. 553-558. June 17 p. 577-584).
“After all, it must be recognized that at this time in a gradual striving, it was desirable to excite not only the pleasure of natural sciences, but also another, the way of faith toward God who created the world, to keep seekers free from obstacles that could cause them to stumble. Only missing was [Page 231] an attempt thereby to make these obstacles passable by agreeing with natural science on its validity, — instead of explaining those accounts of temporal forms [i.e. natural science, etc.] in the Bible as eternal content for which no science can explain. Where it could lead, when one raises instead of the content revealing God, the value and truth of the temporal form [i.e. natural science], was displayed in a garish light in the dispute over the word of Joshua: “Sun, stand still!” At the Berlin District Synod of 1867 [sic - 1868] Pastor Gustav Knak, to the question whether he believed with the Bible that the earth stood fixed and is encircled by the sun, declared: "Yes, I believe it, I know of no other worldview than that of the Holy Scriptures" (Wangemann, 359 ff.). … But Knak also found his defenders. This of course allowed no more synthesis with natural science. But the opinion to which Knak committed himself also had nothing specifically Christian in itself. It could just as well be represented by a pagan Chinese. One cannot find that by such an isolation of individual Christians in an affair, which has no necessary relationship to Christianity, would prove to be a service to Christianity.”So Werner Elert is in agreement with Hengstenberg and says Knak's confession disallowed "more synthesis with natural science...[and] is no more Christian than that of a 'pagan Chinese'... [and] has no necessary relationship to Christianity". In other words, to confess the truth of the Bible can also be confessed by a "pagan Chinese". LCMS historians have largely praised Elert, saying:
"His theology is oriented in the evangelical thought of Luther and in the dialectic of Law and Gospel. Though Lutheran and confessional ..., he was in constant dialog with his age and emphasized the task of theology and the church in the contemporary world. He based his findings on thorough Biblical and historical research."It seems the LCMS historians in 1975 had already found ways to use "historical research" and "dialog with their age" to deny the natural history of the Bible... all in the name of "removing obstacles to faith in God". By the way, the 1927 Concordia Cyclopedia (page 317) called Hengstenberg "a moderate rationalist". The 1975 Christian Cyclopedia omitted this phrase. Hmmm... isn't Hengstenberg's theology the same as what the opponents of the old (German) Missouri Synod taught? Is it not fair to call the teachers in today's LCMS "moderate rationalists" who work towards "synthesis with natural 'science'" in their "Biblical research"?
In the next Part 10b, we will see how the Lisco-Knak Affair of 1868 entered the world arena... including America.