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Monday, September 25, 2017

“God's Word & Luther's Doctrine…” motto – 1 of 5

      This Part 1 (of 5) continues from my Intro blog (see Intro for Table of Contents) and begins my publication of a serial essay explaining and defending the great Lutheran motto.
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Translation by BackToLuther.  All emphasized words are from the original.  Highlighting is mine.

"God's Word and Luther's Doctrine Pure"
[by Prof. E. Pardieck]

Der Lutheraner recently received a letter in which the writer asked for information on the motto of Der Lutheraner: “God’s Word and Luther’s Doctrine Pure, Shall to Eternity Endure” (literally "God's word and Luther's doctrine will now and nevermore pass away.")
First the remark: It is rather dear to us if one writes to us in the matter of doctrine. This shows that one actually reads the Der Lutheraner and thinks about what is read.  It testifies of interest in spiritual things. And this is something great in this time of the earthly sense, where one eats and drinks, marries and lets marry. We do not fear such letters, they do not embarrass us. We have a good conscience in our teaching. We have nothing to hide. If our doctrine can not stand the light, we do not want it ourselves. Whoever places our doctrine in the light of the Scriptures, and engages with the Scriptures, we are only grateful as long as he comes in the right disposition.  We also want to be saved by the way we teach others. We also know that everything we teach will once be held before God. For us teaching is not a game; we have nothing to hide. We are ready for the responsibility to everyone, the reason of the hope that is in us, 1 Pet. 3:15. — Only this would have to be said. The first person to whom a Christian was to turn to with concerns of doctrine is his pastor; he is his teacher instituted by God. But as surely that a church magazine has a right to appear and to teach, so certainly Christians have the right to ask questions of such a periodical. And if the question is of general interest, we will go into it. We want to serve Christians in our pages. Through such inquiries, we often learn where instruction is desired and necessary.
Now to the point!  The writer also stumbles on the motto of Der Lutheraner. He wants to know why it is not “God's Word and Christ’s Doctrine.”   He writes: "Luther was a learned man, but not by himself, but of the Holy Spirit he preached.” He closes his writing with the beautiful phrase, "I do not like what the Scripture does not say." That is why we like to answer him. So we also stand. With such people we can speak to, as Luther says: “He who grants that the evangelists wrote the Word of God, we will certainly meet him, but whoever denies this, I shall not exchange one word with him.” (St. L. 22, 25; not in Am. Ed. 54.)  We intend to show to the sender that the motto of Der Lutheraner goes along very well with the right position on Scripture. Indeed, even more precisely because Der Lutheraner is standing like this, that it does not want to know anything except Scripture in spiritual matters, that is why it carries on, according to the man who has brought the Scriptures back to its honour, the motto: “God's Word and Luther's doctrine pure, shall to eternity endure.”
That the slogan is justified, Der Lutheraner has already proved repeatedly.  We want to see this time the cause of the offense.
In the case of the sender, his next to last sentence shows very clearly where the impulse comes from, the confrontation of the Word of God and Luther's doctrine. For the sake of the importance of the matter, we shall treat it somewhat more fully.
The impetus may come from the fact that it is thought that in this little saying Luther's word would be put over the Word of God, as if we wanted to say: Indeed, if we had only Scripture, then we would be in a bad way; but we have besides them and also over them yet Luther's word; or as if it were said: [page 135, col. 2] Scripture is dark, which no man understands; Luther's interpretation must first be added, only then does it become clear, and then one has something in Scripture, as the Papists said to Luther: the Scripture is dark; the fathers must be heard, they have carried their light in; or as if there should be somebody in the church who is an infallible interpreter of the Scriptures, of which all the others must first get the understanding of Scripture, and under whose word they must bow, because he is it and he says it; that Luther, for example, is what is in the papacy the pope, so that one could state the difference between a Catholic and a Lutheran: the one believes in the pope, the other in Luther.
If that were the opinion, then there would be a godlessness in our little verse, then God and his Word would have stood at the head of our paper for 68 years. Then it would be high time for all Christians to forget this little verse, and to prove it with a ban.
So understood, the verse would not express either God's Word or Luther's doctrine. Not God's Word. God will have to speak in His church alone. There He is the sole owner. What Christians should believe and do, God will tell them alone. No man shall say this to Him, and no man shall deceive Him. His Word is not to be mastered by a creature, but to be worshiped and believed. It says, "One is your master, even Christ; and ye are all brethren,” Matt. 23:8. He commands, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” Matt. 28:20.  All those who open their mouths in God's Church are urged: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God," 1 Pet. 4:11. He who runs after other teachers, to them it shall go badly. "To the law and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isa. 8:20. And whoever would lead by another doctrine, preach another Gospel, and even if it were an angel from heaven, he shall be accursed, Gal. 1:8-9.
If with our verse we were to make Luther's word over God's Word, the verse would be no longer Luther's doctrine, but the most frightful opposite. If ever among men someone has worked hard to ensure that God's Word among Christians retains its unique sublime position, then it was Luther.
This was precisely the reason why he fought with the pope and his house, and also with false brethren throughout his life. The whole work of the Reformation was a war and a victory against everything that would take the place of God and His Word.
Only a few of the thousands of Luther's sayings: “This is indeed wisdom; but it is a devilish wisdom, contrary to the Word and wisdom of God. Such a temptation is characteristic of the devil, that thus he would make us wise against and above the Word of God, just as he himself was in heaven. But the temptation involving wisdom is far more effective than those cruder ones involving lust, greed, pride, etc.” (St. L. 1, 197, #65; Am. Ed. 1, p. 161)  “Hence, it is the height of folly when they command that one shall believe the Church, the fathers, and the councils, though there be no word of God for it. It is not the church but the devil’s apostles who command such things, for the [page 136, col. 1] church commands nothing unless it knows for certain that it is God’s Word. As St. Peter puts it, “Whoever speaks, let him speak as the word of God.” [1 Pet. 4:11] (St. L. X, 396; Am. Ed. 45, p. 106).  “St. Paul throws everything under the Scriptures, himself, an angel from heaven, the teachers on earth, and whatever else there may be for masters.” [paraphrase?] (St. L. IX, 87; Am. Ed. 26, p. 58)  “If you have the judgment of Scripture, you do not need to seek a further judgement, either in the Fathers or in Councils.” [paraphrase?] (St. L. III, 503, #55; not in Am. Ed.). “Those who fall prey to reason and become [their] own teacher. For such practice gives rise to factious spirits who allow themselves to nurture the delusion that the Scriptures are subject to them.” (St. L. XIV, 435, #8; Am. Ed. 34, p. 286). “For whatever does not have its origin in the Scriptures is surely from the devil himself.” (St. L. XIX, 1080, #23; Am. Ed. 36, p. 144).  “The Scripture is to be done in such a way that one thinks how God Himself is speaking.”  (St. L. 3, 21, #10; not in Am. Ed.) “The Papists say that Scripture is so obscure that we cannot understand it without the interpretation of the holy fathers and that therefore we have to follow not the text but the glosses of the fathers. "(St. L. XVIII. 1292; Am. Ed. 39, p. 163)  “The Scripture without any glosses is the sun and the whole light from which all teachers receive their light, and not vice versa.” (sic: St. L. XIII, 1293; Am. Ed. 39, p. 164: “Answer to Goat Emser”) “The Word of God is not to be directed, but we must be guided by it." [St. L. 3, 72, #1; not in Am. Ed.) “The Pope shouts that not the Roman chair has has its power from the Holy Scriptures, but the Holy Scripture from the Roman chair.” (St. L. XVI, 2064, #40; not in Am. Ed.) "If the Scripture is dark, and the fathers must have the sayings to enlighten them, it is the case that the fathers' sayings are dark; Scripture is enlightened. "(St. L. XI, 2333, #4; not in Am. Ed.).  Luther's humble, subordinate position to Scripture is expressed in the well-known saying: “For me it is so, that every passage of Scripture makes the world too narrow for me.”
Just as he subordinated himself to Scripture alone, he did not wish to bind the Christians either to his own word or to any human word, but to the Scripture. Of Lutherans, as Luther wanted them, he thus writes: "They believe not in Luther but in Christ Himself. The Word has them, and they have the Word. They pay no heed to Luther, whether he be a knave or a saint. God can speak through Balaam as well as Isaiah, through Caiaphas as well as through Peter, yes, even through an ass.  I subscribe to their opinion. I myself do not know Luther either, nor do I want to know him, nor do I preach anything about him, but about Christ. The devil may take him [Luther] if he is able to, but if he keeps his hands off Christ, all is well with us.”  (St. L. 15, 1670, parag. 18; Am. Ed. 43, p. 68).
Accordingly, our Church says in her Confession: “We have a different rule, namely, The Word of God shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel.” [Smalcald Articles Part II, Art. II, parag. 15: Of the Mass; Trigl. p. 466/467, #15]
So it is God's Word, and so it was taught by Luther, and so it shall remain in the Church. Thus it is certainly true in our little piece: "God's Word and Luther's doctrine pure, shall to eternity endure."   E. P.

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What a labor of love it was to extract this jewel of an essay from Prof. Pardieck! No conservative Baptist, Presbyterian, "Evangelical", Free Methodist, certainly no Pentecostal, i.e. no Reformed can boast over the Lutheran Church, THE Bible Church, for its adherence to the Bible. Whatever strength still remains in any of the sects, they received it from the LUTHERAN Reformation. Pardieck holds up "thousands of Luther's sayings" and the Lutheran Confessions to the Church today. — In the next Part 2...

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