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Friday, May 13, 2016

LC-MS 2016: back door on Inspiration, Infallibility of Holy Scripture; Part 16c

      This continues from Part 16b, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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      This an appendix to the previous Part 16b, where the old Missouri Synod defended the divinity of Holy Scripture and against Copernicanism.
      In the LC-MS today, there is the document from 1973 called A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles.  Although it is thought by some to be a full return to the heritage of the old (German) Missouri Synod's teaching, yet it opened a "back door" with the sentence (under heading "The Infallibility of Scripture"):
"We recognize that there are apparent contradictions or discrepancies and problems which arise because of uncertainty over the original text."
The words "contradictions", "discrepancies", "problems", and "uncertainty" are all used in this sentence relating to our Holy Bible.  (How is this different than the phrase "plastic text" used by Prof. Kloha?)  Pastor Martin Noland of the LC-MS writes in the latest issue of Christian News (May 9, 2016, page 3, col. 1) the following regarding this sentence:
"The second part of ... the sentence refers to the problems of biblical text criticism, so LC-MS pastors, theologians, and scholars are free to work on such problems and propose various answers where there is 'uncertainty over the original text' due to variant readings."
It would seem that "All Theology is a Problem" in today's LC-MS.  Their teachers could teach me all day long about the Inspiration or Divinity of Holy Scripture, but all the while I would be questioning their sincerity as they use their "freedom to work on such problems and propose various answers where there is 'uncertainty over the original text' due to variant readings."  Noland then goes on to state that "my professors at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne in 1979 to 1986 affirmed and personally practiced textual criticism of the Bible".  He apparently includes also Prof. Robert Preus among these.  How is it that the words used in this 1973 statement, "contradictions, discrepancies, problems, and uncertainty", are to be reconciled to Noland's later statement "that the most significant variant readings do not affect the doctrines of Scripture"?  If they "do not affect the doctrines of Scripture", then how can there be "contradictions, discrepancies, problems, and uncertainty"?
      For antidotes to this ambiguous and confusing wording of today's LC-MS, I suggest two readings:

(1) Franz Pieper's discussion on "variant readings" here, where he concludes:
"So we know a priori, before any investigation, from the promise and the testimony of Christ, that in the Scriptures now at the disposal of the Church we have a reliable text, or, in other words, the authentic doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets, that is, of God, in spite of the variae lectiones in the copies.
     b. We reach the same result also a posteriori, on the basis of scientific investigation. Human scientific investigation establishes the fact that not a single Christian doctrine has been rendered doubtful in any point by the 'legion' of variant readings."
(2)  C.F.W. Walther concluded his charge against Germany's "scientific theologians" in the year before his death in the "Foreword" to the 1886 issue of Lehre und Wehre journal  (Lehre and Wehre, vol. 32, 1886, p. 76 f.) [Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pg 306]:
"Sup­pose that Luther actually regarded the Bible as a book containing all manner of error, out of which only the scholars could lift the kernel of divine truth, that position would rob the Bible Christians only of Luther. But it is a most horrible thing that the theologians of the Modernist faith, including the Modernist Lutherans (without exception, it would seem), declare it to be a fact no longer debatable that the Scriptures contain, besides the `good thoughts' of their authors, also `hay, straw, and stubble,' which `the fire consumes.' That stand robs the Bible Christians not only of a man whom they had heretofore regarded as a faithful witness of the truth, but it robs the Bible Chris­tians of the Bible itself, a lamp to their feet and a light on their path forever, their rod and their staff in the dark valley of affliction, in short, of God's Word, their consolation in the terrors of sin, their hope in the darkness of their last hour! ... We must say of this so-called 'divine-human nature of Scripture,' as the term is understood by modern theologians: Beware, beware, I say, of this 'divine-human' Scripture. It is a devil's mask, for at last it manufactures such a Bible according to which I certainly would not care to be a Bible Christian; namely, that henceforth the Bible should be no more than any good book, a book which I would have to read with constant scrutiny in order not to be led into error. For if I believe that the Bible also contains errors, it is to me no longer a touchstone, but itself stands in need of one. In a word, it is unspeakable what the devil seeks with this 'divine­-human' Scripture." (bolding and highlighting are mine)
Later in August of 1886, the Synodical Conference would cement its teaching on the Divinity of Holy Scripture in its doctrinal proceedings, and also call the teaching of Copernicanism... poison.
      We see that in 1973, the LC-MS did not fully return to its heritage and is now adrift in its own teachings... and deceitfully confusing its own people of the Divinity of Holy Scripture... and on Copernicanism. —  In the next Part 17, I touch on what various historians have said about science... and religion.