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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hoenecke 4: Theology vs “theologizing”; new books, new “Lutheran tradition”

[2018-01-06: small addition in red below]
      This continues from Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series repristinating the praise of the fathers of the Synodical Conference, especially Adolf Hoenecke.
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      Now Prof. Hoenecke drives home not only how bad the theological conditions were "over there" in Germany, but also then highlights the strengths of the Evangelical Lutheran Church according to Luther's Reformation:
Extract from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 1, pp. 206, 208-211; translation by BackToLuther, not  from Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 171 n230, 173-174. Bolding is mine.  Green highlighted portions were not in the English versions, but were restored from the German and translated for the first time.
—————— (cont'd from Part 3) ——————
The only cognitive principle of theology for Walther is the Scriptures. What is not from Scripture does not belong in theology. “No less do we agree,” he writes, “therefore also with Johann Gerhard: the only principle of theology is the Word of God, therefore what is not revealed in God's Word is not theological.” He therefore rejected absolutely all theologizing on the basis of enlightened reason. (L. u. W. 21, 225 ff.) All such apologetics,” he says, “we hate with all our heart, for it presupposes that there is something more certain than the Word of God, from which more certainty one can by way of discursive thinking [see #2 here] derive the mysterious content of revelation.” (Lehre and Wehre 34, 326; see this blog post, search ‘With our whole heart’; ref. L. u. W. 21, pg 41; Editorials from Lehre und Wehre, p. 135] While the modern confessional theologians over there define theology as the “ecclesiastical science of Christianity
"habitus practicus"
(so Luthardt, Komp., S. 2, under “I. Begriff der Dogmatik”) and speak of their “family relationship to philosophy”, (so Öttingen, Dogmatik I, 411). Walther describes what is considered to be a primitive point of view in Oettingen, (Öttingen, Dogmatik I, 411) with Chemnitz and the other ancients as a habitus practicus. He says, ‘The purpose of the ministry is also the purpose of theology. But this is true faith, the knowledge of the truth of godliness, and finally eternal life.’ (Lehre and Wehre, 14, 73; German text)

A theologian, according to Walther, becomes one only through the Holy Spirit out of the Word of God. A true theologian is only one who is born again by the Spirit through the Word. In his edition of Baier (vol. I, p. 69) [Lutherus – text]  he mentions Luther's words: “A doctor of Holy Scripture cannot be made by anybody, but only by the Holy Spirit from heaven, as Christ says, John 6:45.” From the Word – the theologian, and what he works with, is again the Word.
- - - - - - -  Continued in Part 5  - - - - - - -

      I have to keep reminding myself at times while reading the above that it is not just from Walther himself, nor is it from Franz Pieper, rather it is from… Adolf Hoenecke, father of the Wisconsin Synod.

Dogmatics / Systematics textbooks of today   
      Before I proceed, I have discovered with joy that Concordia Publishing House (CPH) has now introduced a new version of the Index (old volume 4) to Pieper's Christian Dogmatics in a “Print on Demand” format (probably paperback).  I have updated my previous blog post notice announcing the demise of this Index.  Although this is welcome news, one wonders that CPH will convert the entire series to this format.  After all, they have now replaced it with something new…  and we see an application for what Hoenecke teaches above.  

       So, what's new?  This...

<<<<============
      CPH has recently released a book series to replace Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, entitled Confessing the Gospel: A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology, a 2 Volume Set.   

They would be pleased to have also the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) replace Hoenecke's  Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics (and ELS) so that they too would be “modern”. 

      One does not have to purchase CPH's “new improved” dogmatics (or systematics) book to evaluate it, for the extensive “Look Inside” file provides ample material for this.  I may publish a more extensive word usage study in the future, but I would invite the reader to do a word search using “Lutheran tradition” in the “Look Inside” file.  Go ahead, I'll wait …………

What did you find?  I found 7 instances where the writer(s) used this term, just in this “Look Inside” excerpt.  By comparison, Franz Pieper never used this “Lutheran tradition” term in his Christian Dogmatics books, neither did Walther in his writings, neither do the Lutheran Confessions or the Lutheran dogmatists, also not in Hoenecke's Ev.-Luth. Dogmatics.  And what does a Google search return as a meaning of “tradition”?:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Google search for “tradition meaning” - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
tra·di·tion
trəˈdiSH(ə)n/
noun




  1. 2.
    THEOLOGY
    a doctrine believed to have divine authority though not in the scriptures, in particular.
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      So Google's short answer indicates that the LC–MS teachers’ identification with the term “Lutheran tradition” clearly shows that they have established their “Lutheran theology” as NOT Scriptural, but their “divine authority” is rather “tradition”.  So...
The LC–MS “Lutheran tradition” is not based on Holy Scripture.
Their own terminology proves it.  (There are many other terms that can be used to show this... too many for this blog post.) —  In the next Part 5

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