Search This Blog

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hönecke 1: WELS finest; Intro; “Analogy of Faith”

Adolf Hoenecke
      In the previous post, I lamented how today's Wisconsin Synod (WELS) is turning away from its father in the faith, Adolf Hoenecke.  Although I have pointed out a weakness of Hoenecke in another post, yet he remains one of the great Lutheran theologians of America, and, as we shall see, was revered highly in the Synodical Conference.
      As I was reading Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, volume 1, I ran across a long narrative (pp. 173-174; German text pp. 206-211) extolling the father of the old (German) Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther.  The narrative was so long and complementary that I lost track of who actually wrote so well of Walther, thinking it was just Pieper himself.  But as I traced back to the beginning of the quote, I was amazed – the quote was from… Adolf Hoenecke!  Why was this amazing?  Because today's theologians in both the WELS and LC-MS do not want this quote to be publicized:  
  • WELS teachers now prefer to honor the deposed Prof. J.P. Koehler over Hoenecke, and 
  • LC-MS teachers essentially want both Walther and Pieper downgraded to the point of oblivion.
J.P. Koehler claimed that Hoenecke told him privately in 1878 the following remark about the “Missourians” (History of the Wisconsin Synod, p. 153):
“There is something sectarian about them.” (the Missourians)
This alleged quote that Koehler claims Hoenecke said to him privately has been repeated by other WELS historians without question, implying a reliance on Koehler's personal assertions rather than what was actually published in writing by Hoenecke.

“Analogy of Faith” rejected?
      Another indication that the WELS teachers are following Koehler by downgrading Hoenecke is demonstrated in the English translation of Hoenecke's Evangelical-Lutheran Dogmatics, volume 1, pp. 496-497.  In footnote 112, translator Rev. James Langebartels overturned Hoenecke's strong statement that
“All interpretation must be according to the analogy of faith (Rom. 12:6).” – Hoenecke
This was done by referring to a later journal essay by J.P. Koehler “shortly before Hoenecke's death” and so makes the equally strong statement rejecting Hoenecke's teaching (my emphasis, p. 497, footnote 112):
“By this principle, this interpretation of Romans 12:6 must be rejected…” — (Langebartels/Koehler)
In all my reading of Hoenecke, Koehler, Schaller, and others, I have not read that Hoenecke specifically rejected his own teaching on this point.  Koehler implies that he had Hoenecke's approval for his own attacks, but again someone would have to show me specifically where Hoenecke rejected his own teaching for me to believe this.  And if someone were to demonstrate this, then I would then be able to add another weakness of Hoenecke.  But I have not discovered a shred of evidence in all my reading.  The judgments of Koehler, so honored today in the Wisconsin Synod (example), concerning Hoenecke's teaching are not correct.

“Analogy of Faith” vs. Justification?
      There are two teachers of the WELS who admit that Dr. Hoenecke essentially rejected J.P. Koehler's use of “exegesis” to attempt to override a disagreement with opponents on a  misuse of “analogy of faith”.  Professor Em. Armin Schuetze (former President of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary) quoted Hoenecke (The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor, p. 186-7):
“Also by means of exegesis we will not arrive at agreement because our opponents from the very start differ with us in the analogy of faith.” – Hoenecke 
Thankfully, Schuetze lets Hoenecke's statement stand without rebuttal.  Not so with another WELS teacher…

      Prof. John M. Brenner also published the above statement of Hoenecke in his 2012 PhD thesis, p. 130 (download here, PDF; a Jesuit university?), indicating that the source was published in Theologische Quartalschrift, 2 no. 4 (Oct 1905) p. 275 (German text).  Unfortunately Brenner also accepts Koehler's personal opinion that Hoenecke's teaching  (Ibid. p. 118-119; Koehler's History…, p. 243) was in contradiction to Franz Pieper's teaching which is also the teaching of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, Article XXVII: (XIII): Of Monastic Vows § 60 & 61 which states:
“Examples ought to be interpreted according to the rule, i.e., according to certain and clear passages of Scripture, not contrary to the rule, that is, contrary to the Scriptures. It is very certain, however, that our observances do not merit the remission of sins or justification.”
Brenner should know better since he defends “Universal Justification” in a 2014 essay, p. 43, yet weakens his own defense by questioning Franz Pieper's strong statement (History, p. 212241) that the “analogy of faith” is essentially the doctrine of justification… or what is the same, the clear passages of Scripture (see Apology § 61). — Although Koehler came "out" publicly in January 1904 with his refutation of Pieper's use (also of Luther and the Confessions) of the “analogy of faith”, yet Hoenecke also publicly, in 1909 (posthumously), came out with the Dogmatik books.  Before the Wisconsin Synod struck out on a new path with a new doctrine of Church and Ministry after Hoenecke died, it tried to go against Hoenecke's own teaching by legitimizing a subjective faith, a personal faith (Brenner/Koehler's fides qua creditur, p. 118, 125-6: “The objective meaning of ‘doctrine of faith’ is improbable.”) as the basis for the interpretation of Holy Scripture, ostensibly through a “fresh” approach to “exegesis”. [2017-12-24: slight mods made, added link]
==>> Hoenecke's, Pieper's, Walther's, and Luther's use of “analogy of faith” or “rule of faith” is the Confessional use, the same as the ancient Church.
And so Franz Pieper was the best friend that the Wisconsin Synod ever had by warning its erring teachers against going down their dangerous path (History, p. 212).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      With this background, I want to publicize to the world, along with Franz Pieper, the honor that Adolf Hoenecke paid to C.F.W. Walther, and in the process brings great honor to himself. — But first we are treated to an introduction by Prof. John Schaller... in the next blog post, Part 2.

[2018-01-12: see this 1978 CTQ essay by Henry P. Hamann Jr. for examples of misuse of "exegesis"]
- - - - - - - - - - -   Table of Contents   - - - - - - - - - - - -
Prologue: Doctrine and Life (Focus shift away from doctrinal defense – subjectivism)
Part 1: This intro
Part 2: Schaller's introductory bio of Hoenecke
Part 3: F. Pieper reviews Hoenecke's training; Hoenecke assesses Walther
Part 4: Theology vs “theologizing”; new books, new “Lutheran tradition”
Part 5: Hoenecke itemizes doctrines defended (Wehre) by Walther; Walther / Pieper for Wisconsin's leader

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.