Search This Blog

Friday, May 13, 2016

Missouri Synod 1878- Der Lutheraner: Copernicanism & Inspiration; Part 16b

[2017-11-18: added photo of Pastor J.F. Köstering]
      This continues from Part 16a, 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.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

     From the previous essay from 1898, I move back in time 20 years, when Walther was still the editor of the Der Lutheraner magazine.  Pastor Pasche gave another quote in one of his books from the old (German) Missouri Synod, this one from a Pastor Köstering who in his defense of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, also defended against Copernicanism.  Translating this was a labor of love for me as it brought back the teaching from my confirmation class.  I can just imagine how editor Walther loved printing this essay!

Highlightinghyperlinks, text in brackets [ ] are mine.

(Sent in by Pastor Köstering.)
Something over the Divinity of the Holy Scriptures.
The divinity of the Scriptures is the first fundamental truth of the Christian religion and the only reason for our faith, with which it either stands and falls. We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (whom these have laid in their writings), of which Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.  If this basis is divine, then it is certainly immovable, and our faith with Him; were He but only a human, it would be awkward for our faith.  It is therefore a highly important thing that our heart is persuaded of the divinity of the Holy Scriptures thoroughly and is encouraged in this conviction always anew again and is fastened.
In a time like the present, the need is doubly important.  Our time is characterized not only by the most varied, unscrupulous falsification of the Word; but it also works with a vengeance because the basis of the Christian religion (that the Bible is a divine book) convert tear itself.  It is true of their action: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” [Psalm 11:3]  Are there not thousands, yes, millions, who are baptized in the Triune God, and no more hold the Holy Scriptures [page 99, column 2] as God's Word, but a fairy tale and myth book, and explain it so?  But not only these shake the ground of the Christian religion.  How many are not now under those which want not to be counted among the mockers, but to those who believe, yes, as true believers want to be counted, who are so infected and poisoned by the false enlightenment of our time, that they no longer even believe much of what is clearly written in the Holy Bible book, but now this, now that exclude the Scriptures, and in this and those parts rather follow their blind reason, or their false hearts, or the generally godless principles of the enlightened endless world?  Are there not many so-called Christians who are ashamed of confessing particularly those remarks of the Holy Spirit in Scripture that are so annoying and offensive to the unbelieving, the proud of wisdom, the fanatical, and the creature idolizing race of our time? And what is the most saddening in this matter: that the so-called "scientific theologians" stand in this at the top.  They certainly do not say: The Bible is a book of fables; no, they say: God's Word is in the Bible.  Now that sounds very Christian, and one could hold the statement as quite innocuous, if one did not know that they want just so to hide their mischief.  They do not want to confess with all true Christians: The Bible is God's Word, they deny a real divine inspiration of the Holy Scripture, and see them as merely higher illumination which the sacred writers should have enjoyed.  They deny that everything contained in the canonical books is God's Word, and make a distinction between the divine and the human in Scripture.  They deny the statement: The Bible is the Word immediately spoken of the Holy Spirit, and thus they strike at the foundation, so far as it is up to them.  For if the whole Bible is not God's Word, and not every syllable and every word immediately spoken by the Holy Spirit, but the Scripture is jumbled between the divine and human: who will then tell us infallibly, and who can then unfailingly know which is divine and which is human in the Bible?  Truly then we sit with our faith in the sand!
It is admitted that in our days, the number of those who still profess with joy “The Bible is God's Word” has become very small.   Among the "scientific theologians" one is  limited whoever still clings in childlike faith to this precious truth.  Not long ago, the “Erlanger Zeitschrift” [or Erlanger Journal] claimed with a full mouth that: “The old church doctrine of inspiration will at least in Germany be represented by no one any more.”  Frankly, we think this claim as a Goliath bravado because we know for certain that there are still warm pious learned men also in Germany who say: the Bible is God's Word, from the heart and joyfully profess to believe.  But of course, they are few, and they are so despised that no one takes notice of them any more.
That the Bible with all its content is truly God's Word, we but have three main evidences arising from itself, namely: 1. their divine origin; 2. their divine content, and 3. their divine power and effect. We will now speak only something of the first item and show what we mean when we say that the Bible is of divine origin, or, it is [page 99, column 3] inspired or given directly from God. On this point we set up the following statement:
The inspiration (or immediate intuition) of the Scriptures is that action of God, that He — the sole author of the Scriptures — selected by Himself certain individuals as his tools in constituting the biblical books driven of the Holy Spirit to write vigorously things that should write, and the words with which they should print the items, and the way, the order and the connection in which they should record the sacred truths, given immediately to mind, and in the pen; so that they have remained proven by the immediate and powerful governance of the Holy Spirit preserved especially against errors in their work, and we also by their writings (that is, all canonical books).  And in them every saying, every word, every syllable and every tittle we are as a sacred obligation to adopt as very reliable and infallible divine truth.
Before we analyze this sentence somewhat in order to make the divine inspiration of the Scriptures more understandable, let us first briefly indicate how not to think them.  One may namely 1. not confuse divine inspiration with mere divine illumination (Erleuchtung), and first explain it by the latter.  It is certainly true that the holy men of God, whom God has used as tools for the finishing of the biblical books, have been highly enlightened and highly favored men; but only a mere enlightenment does not protect oneself from error.  Had they therefore written the Bible only as highly enlightened men as the "scientific theologians" of our time would have us believe, then though it would be the best book in the world, nevertheless however it would be only a human book which would have to be read with caution.  But it is not so with the Bible, thank God! — One must  2. not think of divine inspiration even as ecstasy (Entzückung), because the sacred writers would have been offset by a suddenly poignant divine power from the natural into a supernatural state.  Because in this state of the ecstatic they would not really know what was happening.  Paul did not know if he was in the body, or out of the body; Peter (at Joppa) [Acts 11:5] also did not know how it happens; the apostles on Tabor know not what they say.  But it was not like that with the sacred writers.  They have completely been aware of that what they have written, and could think about it. — Finally  3. one must not imagine divine inspiration as a divine appearance, that God had spoken face to face with the sacred writers and dictated to them the words to write.  Because in this way would actually be found no inspiration and no inner divine action in the sacred scribes, that yet according the testimony of Scripture itself has found, 1 Tim. 3:16.  And how easy would occur a self-deception in this way, that the holy men for a devil’s appearance as an angel of light — would have thought of as a divine appearance instead!
The inspiration or immediate inspiration of Scripture summarizes the following items in it:
1. The holy men of God have been driven most strongly by the Holy Spirit to write the Biblical books. Peter testifies this when he says:  "The holy men of God spake [page 100, column 1] — and thus also written —. as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." [2 Peter 1:21]  This moving was so powerful that they could not withstand it.  Not as if they had been compelled by the moving of the Holy Spirit to write, but that they were rendered willingly, merrily and cheerfully.   As it once was with the apostles: "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." [Acts 4:20]; so it was said by the holy writers: We do not leave it that we should not write what the Holy Ghost has given to us.  The prophet Jeremias felt such an holy urge, so he also writes: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." [Jeremiah 20:9]  And from the Apostle Paul we read: “Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."
2. The divine inspiration of the Scriptures also comprehends that the holy men have enjoyed in constituting the biblical books an immediate enlightenment, an extraordinary governing and a powerful help of God, whereby they were preserved from error.  When a prophet or an evangelist, or an apostle had written a biblical book, that did not need afterward to be  corrected and improved; it was without any errors and quite perfect in content, form and expression.  This was caused by the Holy Spirit, who is a Spirit of truth, had immediately governed them in writing that they could not be in error. For this reason, can even Paul say so confidently "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." [Gal. 1:8]  So the Apostle dearly testifies that he and his fellow Apostles had preached and written nothing other than what had been given to them by the Holy Spirit immediately.  Therefore one must be cursed which brings a different doctrine; then the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself.
3. The inspiration or direct divine inspiration of the Scriptures also grasps in itself, that the Holy Spirit gave the holy men of God the things that they should write, and the words with which they should express the things, actually and immediately in the mind and in the pen.  For as Paul testifies that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" [2 Tim. 3:16], both things and words but belong to Scripture, it follows incontrovertibly that both have been directly inspired by the Holy Spirit.  This can also be proven with clear sayings of Scripture.  David says: "The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me, His word was on my tongue." [2 Sam. 23:2] "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer". [Ps. 45:1] To Jeremiah the prophet God says: "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth." [Jer. 1:9]  And our Saviour says to his apostles: "Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."  In these words He promises them not only the "what", or the things that [page 100, column 2] should speak and write, but also the "how", or the words and expressions, with which they should express and write down the divine truths given them by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore then also Paul writes to confirm the truly arrived fulfillment of Christ's promise: "We have received ... the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God; which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." [1 Cor. 2:12-13]
  4. The immediate inspiration of Scripture understands finally in itself, that the Holy Spirit has charted for the holy men of God the way, the order and connection, in short, the form in which they should recite the divine things.  This is to be taken from the previously proven fact, and especially from what Christ also promises to give his disciples "how they should speak and write"; which includes then the style, the connection, the relationship, in short, the whole form in itself.
What we have now said generally of the immediate divine inspiration of Holy Scripture, is also valid in particular of every canonical book, of every section, of every saying, of every word, of every syllable, and of every tittle in the same.  Not only the important, but also the less important and seemingly unimportant — everything, everything is given by direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit: thing, word, expression, speech and form.  Not only is the Bible's teachings, but also its stories, not just its chronology, but also what it says of the world of stars everything is of the Holy Spirit by direct inspiration, and therefore also very reliable, infallible divine truth.  It is just as certain divine truth that Balaam’s ass spake with a man's voice as that God confused the language of Babel; Likewise, it is just as divinely certain that the sun moves continuously in the sky around our earth, as certain it is that God has established the earth firmly.  Because such things are spoken and written with words that the Holy Spirit teaches the holy men of God, i.e. the Holy Spirit has given them immediately to mind, and in the pen [Feder, or feather or pen].  But the Holy Spirit cannot speak deceitfully, that is, He cannot speak so that we would be led by His speech to a false notion of a thing.  When He says, for example: "As the sun and the moon stood still,"  He does not mean: the Earth stood still, because then his speech would tempt us into quite a wrong image of the behaviour of the celestial bodies.  No, as the Holy Spirit speaks, He means it, and as He said, so it is; because the Word of the Lord is true.
Dear, precious  reader!  With this faith of our fathers, let us remain steadfast, then our faith has a solid foundation and our heart a certain consolation. — Everything however, which so far the newer scientific theology brought out as clarification of their alleged treasure, has only served to cause the foundation of our faith to waver where possible and to diminish and rob us the certain comfort.  Therefore we must refuse it in this regard.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

      Indeed, this essay is one of the precursors to what the Synodical Conference would address in its convention of 1886.  Pastor Köstering was a very good student of... C.F.W. Walther!  It was Walther who led the charge against the horrible rationalism and "scientific theology" of Germany, a theology that would make the Holy Scriptures both divine and human in their origin.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      I was going to leave this topic for another, except that I just read a statement by Pastor Martin Noland of the LC-MS in the most recent Christian News that touches on what the LC-MS teaches today on the Holy Scriptures.  In the next Part 16c, I contrast this with what the old (German) Missouri taught as represented by the above Der Lutheraner essay.