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Monday, September 26, 2016

Stoeckhardt – Defender of Inspiration; Copernicanism Part 24

      This continues from Part 23b, 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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George Stoeckhardt
      In this series, I have normally included only those teachers who have specifically warned against Copernicanism.  However, because this topic is so closely tied to the subject of "verbal inspiration", I am including a short essay from another teacher of the old (German) Missouri Synod, George Stoeckhardt, who did not mention "Copernicanism", even when he defended against attacks on the truth of Joshua 10:13.  The following essay defends against a modernist German theologian, R.F. Grau, who is rather outspoken in his attacks against the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.  One can read further about Grau in the 1886 Synodical Conference report.
      As I read the quotes of Prof. Grau, I could not help but see similarities to writings and comments made by a professor of today's Concordia Seminary, Jeffrey Kloha, currently the provost.  Anyone who thinks Kloha's position on Holy Scripture is harmless (such as Daniel Preus and Pres. Matthew Harrison), should read and digest... George Stöckhardt.
      I do not know if the publication which this came from is available anymore from Concordia Theological Seminary Bookstore (I bought it ~ 15-20 years ago), but one could call them to find out.  There are 3 other essays included in the full booklet.  I will extract some quotes following this presentation which is only 14 pages long. The full document may be viewed here.

Stoeckhardt defends against Grau's attacks on the Bible's teachings that touch on not only creation, but also "cosmological, astronomical, chronological concepts".  Grau specifically states:
 "The purpose of the Bible is not to give directions and set goals or to apply curbs, to decree on the basis of Joshua 10:13 that the earth and the sun should stand still." – Prof. Grau
By directly attacking Joshua 10:13, Grau also implies Copernicanism.  His attack takes several forms, such as this:
"I am also acquainted with a faith, ... legalistic ..., a faith which is of the opinion that all is lost if one page is torn out of Holy Scripture."
So for Grau, it is "legalistic" to hold to the inspiration of the whole Bible, to hold that "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).  Stoeckhardt masterfully responds saying
...whoever frees himself from the restraints of the Word and criticizes and censures Scripture, his disposition and frankness are nothing but carnal arrogance, his zeal and piety basically nothing else but godlessness and enmity against God; his Christ is a creature of his own thoughts or a specter of the Devil.
Later Stoeckhardt makes the all important point of Scripture's demand on our faith:
And if now some of these things [on creation] can be demonstrated from nature and history, they are and remain, insofar as they are content of Holy Scripture, object of faith. For everything that God says in His Word is presented for us to believe.  Modern theologians have reached the point that they see in the simple faith of a Christian, who accepts in his heart everything that is written as the dear Word of God, nothing but sensual enchantment, as once the Pharisees exhibited.
      Stoeckhardt is one of the lost and forgotten great teachers of the old (German) Missouri Synod by today's LCMS.  Although Concordia Publishing still sells one of his books, yet Stoeckhardt wrote many wonderful books, books of exegetical studies of the books of the Bible, and also dogmatic works.  Books such as:
I have over 20 of Stoeckhardt's books in my library, books of English translations, purchased at the CTS-FW bookstore over 20 years ago.  They filled the bookstore with much good Christian writing then. But now hardly any remain listed on their website (only 1 today, but call them for perhaps a more complete listing.).
      Stöckhardt was highly revered among his students.  So why are his many books not competing with the multitude of Reformed commentaries on the Bible?  Could it be that the LCMS essentially buried him in their fall away from orthodoxy, their slipping away on the doctrine of Inspiration?
      In the next Part 25, another testimony for the inspiration of the Bible -- B.B. Warfield.

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