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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hoenecke 5: Walther highlights; praise for Hönecke

[2018-01-27: added information in red text below]
       This concludes from Part 4 (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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      This last portion of the quote from Adolf Hoenecke shows especially why Franz Pieper called Hoenecke a “true theologian”.  Hoenecke sums up the greatest features of the theology of C.F.W. Walther:
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.  
—————— (concluded from Part 4) —————— 
The Scripture was for Walther God's Word and nothing else.  He could not be shaken from the doctrine of Inspiration of the old-church. This is what Rohnert [Wilhelm Rohnert, 1837-1908] praises in him, that in the last decades he probably was the most emphatic one for the old dogmatic verbal inspiration. (Dogmatik der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, p. 105  [German text]) Walther held fast to the inspiration of the Scriptures, because he saw that if here one in the least way gave in, one would give up that Scripture alone is the source and norm of theology.

Open questions” are not recognized by Walther as the Iowa Synod does. It is not required that the symbolical books treat a doctrine to make it a doctrine of the church. The confessions make no new doctrines of the church, but only represent them.  Scripture is the decisive factor.  Therefore, the Bible's teaching is also the doctrine of the church, although it has not yet been dealt with in the symbols. (Lehre and Wehre 14, 133 ff.) Walther, however, highly esteemed the confessions. Everywhere he draws on them in his writings and, in addition, the statements of the true Lutheran teachers. But his theology is not, in the bad sense, a theology of repristination, as the modern theologians over in the old country label it; for with him it is not the old dogmaticians or the Symbols [Confessions] that tip the scales, but Holy Scripture. [see Hochstetter’s testimony]
As a Scripture theologian, he had no special doctrines which he has preferred to treat, but it has been the case that he was forced to treat a number of doctrines a great deal and worked through them vigorously:
the doctrines of the Church and Ministry over against the Buffalo Synod, the doctrines of Election and Conversion against the Ohio and Iowa Synods, the doctrine of justification and reconciliation against the Erlangen theology and sectarianism of this land.”
= = = = = =  End of quote from Hoenecke  = = = = = = =

      In Hoenecke's itemization of all the distinguishing teachings of Walther, I was reminded of Franz Pieper's series of essays "C.F.W. Walther as Theologian".  I wonder that Hoenecke, to a certain extent, used Pieper's highlights from this series as he gave his own assessments.  So to help readers (like myself!) review again the corresponding highlights between Hoenecke's highlights above and Pieper's essays, here is a listing with hyperlinks:
       What is immediately apparent by the above listing is the agreement Hoenecke would have with the (old) Missouri Synod's Brief Statement of 1932.  But I could find only one reference to it in today's Wisconsin Synod's public “What We Believe” section – in the “Statement on the Antichrist”.  Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe that in past years, the WELS was much more frequent in citing the Brief Statement. [2018-01-27: In 1953, a WELS committee warned the LC-MS "... the Synodical Conference in convention assembled to request the Missouri Synod to repeal the Common Confession and to return to the clarity and decisiveness in setting forth the Scriptural and historical doctrinal position of the Synodical Conference for which the Brief Statement sets an excellent precedent." Proceedings of the Forty-Second Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (1953), 157 -- see this essay, p. 319, n 75]
      What would Walther's counsel be for today's Wisconsin Synod?  It would be the same as to his own Missouri Synod in his 1860 Letter from Zurich (CTM  vol. 61; digitized text doc herep. 654-655):
“This principle [Rom. 12:6 ‘analogy or measure of faith’] is [not] properly made use of when everyone wants to find everything that is in the Bible by himself and does not want to accept, as a pupil, the mined treasures of Scriptural doctrine from those granted the gift of Scriptural interpretation in high measure.”
Walther would have in mind not only Martin Luther, but also the Lutheran dogmatists of Lutheran Orthodoxy, and... his fellow leader in the Synodical Conference, Adolf Hoenecke – not the later J.P. Koehler who would throw all the above out with his misuse of “exegesis”.
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      I conclude this series with Pieper's final assessment of his mentor Adolf Hoenecke:

In this account of Walther, 
Hönecke describes himself 
as a [true] theologian at the same time, 
as is apparent from the attached judgments.

                                                 — Dr. Franz Pieper

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