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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Schrift 9: “empty sham”, “Heilsgeschichte”; Bible verse ban; Becker's folly

      This continues from Part 8 (Table of Contents in Part 1) in a series presenting an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's major essay on  the Inspiration of Holy Scripture in the Missouri Synod's chief theological journal, Lehre und Wehre. —  This segment consists entirely of one footnote spanning three pages in the German original.  It is the largest footnote in this essay indicating Walther's passion to clearly expose and defend against perhaps the most famous German theologians of the 19th Century, J.C.K. von Hofmann – a modern theologian who can be rather difficult to translate with his lack of clarity.  
http://www.worldcat.org/title/self-giving-god-and-salvation-history-the-trinitarian-theology-of-johannes-von-hofmann/oclc/1059290206&referer=brief_results
      Prof. Matthew Becker of Valparaiso University wrote a book in 2004 largely defending von Hofmann's "Trinitarian theology" but admitted that he denied the vicarious atonement, even appealing to Martin Luther for this position (ref. #6 here). Prof. Becker implies that to deny the vicarious atonement does not deny Christianity, as long as one has a "Trinitarian theology", a "Trinity" that strips Christ of his office of Redeemer. More will be said below on Prof. Becker.
     The following is one long footnote of Walther that spanned 3 pages in Lehre und Wehre.  We see him addressing the other great difference between the Missouri Synod and German theology – the German theologians denial of the Inspiration of Scripture.  As a result, we see how a denial of Inspiration leads to... denial of the Vicarious Satisfaction, i.e. denial of Christianity. (Apologies for the small font used below, it is intended to reproduce the small font in the original German.)
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Translation by BackToLuther; all highlighted text, text in square brackets [] and in red font are my additions. Underlining follows Walther.
(continued from Part 8)
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 32, February 1886, p. 38-40: "Foreword" by C.F.W. Walther

1) However, in a certain sense von Hofmann teaches, according to Schleiermacher the second father of modern-believing scientific theology, that the totality of Scripture [Brief Statement § 2: “Ganzes der Schrift”] is a work of the Holy Spirit. He writes for example: “Just as the Spirit of God was at work in the exemplary story of Christ, in the manner of salvation-historical way, he also produced a corresponding written memorial of it. . .  That the Old Testament Scripture is inspired, which only so commemorates our doctrine (the twelfth in the first doctrinal part) that it is said of them a work of the Spirit of God, it is just as much the exemplary nature of the story of which they are a monument. For we have shown elsewhere that all that serves to perpetuate salvation history is by virtue of an action of the Spirit which controls it, which for this purpose controls man with regard to his natural life in the manner required for the particular purpose of such an action. The New Testament Scripture testifies to us that we hereby correctly assert of the creation and production of the (page 39) Old Testament, for it is only as it is said of miraculous healings or other power effects serving the community of God that they are done by the Spirit of God, we read of the prophets of the Old Covenant, that they prophesied by the same Spirit, as God works those exercises of power, so he also spoke through the prophets. So little but between the action of God by which the acts of salvation history, and between that, by which the words, a difference is to be produced of the prophecy made: by virtue of which God as little between that word spoken, and those by virtue of which has been written …  Nor is it to be distinguished between the parts of the Scripture, that some would be more or differently produced by divine action than the others. …  So the totality of Scripture is the one Word of God for his Church. As a whole it is, and wants nothing to be distinguished in it, which does not apply to it, and does not apply to what would find itself apart from it…

But not only to the writers, but also to those who composed the constituent parts of Scripture, be it books, or the whole of them, the Spirit of God, as he ruled in the Old Testament church, has His own effect on the creation of the totality of Scripture [Schriftganzen].” (Schriftbeweis, p. 1, 670. ff.). According to this, von Hofmann seems to agree completely with Luther in the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and even to go beyond him with regard to their composition. And yet everything that goes on is nothing but the empty sham of it!  Whoever knows von Hofmann's whole theological system, sees this at first glance. Dr. Kliefoth therefore makes the following well-founded remarks to those and similar arguments: “That sounds quite powerful and full, and as if von Hofmann appropriated the entire seventeenth-century theory of inspiration in its most blatant execution, but only if one takes from Hofmann's terms the meaning which the Church associates with them.
But if we think back to what we know of von Hofmann's doctrine of the working of the Spirit of God, everything here dissolves in the hand. For we know, firstly, that according to von Hofmann, the Spirit of God by no means controls only the man who serves salvation history [Heilsgeschichte], but all men with regard to their natural life, and that He controls all and every appearance of the physical world, and consequently not merely everything that serves for the continuation of sacred history, but chiefly everything that belongs to natural and historical world developments is produced by the action of the Spirit and the spirits. When therefore von Hoffman traces back the origin of Scripture to the natural life of man determined by the Spirit of God, so he says nothing which is added to the Holy Scripture of a higher origin, a higher dignity. For the Spirit of God has been just as decisive for the natural life of the writer and composer of the Iliad, as for the writers and composers of the Scriptures for their purpose. Therefore, it is only deceptive when von Hofmann says that the Spirit of God (page 40) had no other effect on the development of the Scripture than on the healing of the sick and other miracles of salvation history [Heilsgeschichte]. He had to go further and say, according to his doctrine, that not only the general, but also the common is due to the action of the Spirit and the spirits: action of the Spirit is not just where the Holy Scripture is but even where the healings and miracles happen, even where the Iliad is, and even where the wind blows; the difference is only that the same Spirit of God is here a hurricane, there healings, there a Hellenic written document, and here again brings a written document of salvation history [Heilsgeschichte]. Secondly, we know and hear again in abundance that this effect of the Spirit of God was only on the natural life of the people involved in writing the Scriptures. But then it was limited only to writing and composing, to external formality, as von Hofmann, where he described above the activity of the spirit in question, only mentioned writing and compiling. On the other hand, the efficacy of the Spirit of God did not extend to the production of the content of Scripture, for it would of course require an effect not only on the natural life but also on the personal life of the men used, their thinking and their will; as then also von Hofmann taught that the Spirit of God has given the authors the content of the Holy Scriptures without words. Everything that von Hofmann says about the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is reduced to the fact that the Spirit of God, in the creation of the same, did the same thing that he must do in all that mankind should do by means of natural life. Of a prompting [Eingebung, or inspiration, or dictation] of the content there is no talk of Scripture by the Spirit of God; after weighing all von Hofman's explanations, we have still not learned from Scripture that the New Testament is a humanly believable and rather rich document of Christian prehistory, that the Old Testament is for him a document of the exemplary history of Jesus, and according to the corresponding testimony of Jesus, is such a document.”  (Kirchl. Zeitschrift, edited by Dr. Th. Kliefoth and Dr. O. Mejer, vol. 6. Schwerin 1859. p. 650. f.). [Online version v. 6 not found. V. 1 Google Bks] Even von Hofmann's students do not reveal much more about what they would understand on inspiration. They are not so naive as to invoke “Bible verses,” they construct their “inspiration"  from the need of the Christian church for a written document about the origins and the nature of the Scripture which meets that need. For example Dr. Luthardt writes briefly: “The self-testimony of the Scripture” (concerning the manner of its creation) “does not rest on individual passages, but rather on the nature of Scripture itself, whose corresponding knowledge is the task of Scripture science.”  Compend., 4th ed., p. 253.)
Even to mention such dicta probantia [stated proofs] as 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Sam. 23:2 in their exposition of the doctrine of inspiration, the modern-believing theologians regard as beneath their dignity; they leave that to the dogmatists of the old school who had no idea of ​​historical intuition. Every doctrine must be the result of “Scripture science.”
= = = = = = =   continued in Part 10  = = = = = = = =

We see how Walther throws all of Prof. Becker's attempts to Christianize von Hofmann's "Trinitarian" theology to the ground.  Von Hofmann strips away the authority of the Bible in all its parts by his "whole of Scripture", his "Schriftganzen", teaching, also by his essential denial of the divinity of Holy Scripture, calling it a product of "natural life".  Franz Pieper put Walther's (and Luther's) teaching into the Brief Statement, § 1-3. Before the popularity of the "Historical-Critical Method" in the 20th Century, Walther warned against it among 19th Century German Lutheran theologians. We see today's theologians have followed these 19th century theologians, in their "historical intuition", their "Scripture science", their “Schriftwissenschaft”.  —  The misuse of the term Heilsgeschichte by von Hofmann presages what was later termed "Gospel reductionism", a somewhat misleading term for it was essentially a war against the divinity of Holy Scripture... and still is.  It was C.F.W. Walther who took the lead in the charge to defend it... in all of Christianity.


      In 2016, Prof. Matthew Becker continued his apparent praise of von Hofmann in the book Nineteenth-Century Lutheran Theologians. Becker summarizes von Hofmann's teaching that "the death of Jesus is... not a "vicarious atonement", then calls von Hofmann's work "a fruitful resource" (p. 210).  Is Becker now excluding himself from Christianity?  May it not be so...

In the next Part 10 Walther addresses Theses 2 & 3 with quotes from the Reformer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Schrift 8: Thesis 1: “All Scripture of Holy Ghost” says Luther, not by LCMS/CTCR, Franzmann, Voelz

[2019-01-01: added section in red below on Prof. Voelz]
      This continues from Part 7 (Table of Contents in Part 1) in a series presenting an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's major essay on  the Inspiration of Holy Scripture in the Missouri Synod's chief theological journal, Lehre und Wehre. — Walther has been noted for his use of "Theses" (or Axioms) in several of his writings.  Now he begins his final published list of "Theses" asserting the authority and inspiration of Holy Scripture. These may be seen as Luther's grand building blocks for the true Lutheran theologians who would follow him.
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Translation by BackToLuther; all highlighted text, text in square brackets [] and in red font are my additions. Underlining and bold follow Walther.
(continued from Part 7)
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 32, February 1886, p. 36-38: "Foreword" by C.F.W. Walther

I. All of Holy Scripture is a work of the Holy Spirit.

On the words of David: “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2), Luther writes: “Here David begins to speak too strangely and too loftily for me. God grant that I may understand at least a bit of it in spite of that. For here he begins to talk about the exalted Holy Trinity, of the divine essence. In the first place, he mentions the Holy Spirit. To Him he ascribes all that is foretold by the prophets. And to this and to similar verses St. Peter refers in 2 Peter 1:21, where he says: “No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man; but moved by the Holy Spirit, holy men of God spoke.” Therefore we sing in the article

of the Creed 1)  concerning the Holy Spirit: “Who spake by the prophets.” Thus we attribute to the Holy Spirit all of Holy Scripture.” (Interpretation of David's Last Words, 1543, III, 2796. f.; [StL 3, 1889 f., § 9, LW 15, p. 275])        
“Here also the text of Daniel (7:13-14) gives powerfully the article of the deity in three Persons and of the humanity of the Son; for there must be another person who gives, and another who receives it. For the Father gives the everlasting power to the Son, and the Son has it from the Father, and all this from eternity; otherwise it would not be an eternal power; so it is the Holy Ghost who speaking through Daniel. For such a high secret thing no one could know where the Holy Ghost did not reveal it through the prophets; as often said above, that the Scriptures are spoken by the Holy Spirit.” (Ibid., III, 282l § 42; [StL 3, 1907 f., § 42; LW 15, p. 291-292; WA 54, p. 48)
To the words: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2), Luther notes : “Moses here says to the people, not to God: ‘Ye shall not add, ... ’  etc. For who doubts that God, as the time demanded, could or would do so?  For, whether He adds or subtracts, He Himself always remains true; … So also all the prophets, if they have learned something other than Moses, so God has revealed it to them, just as to Moses, or as Peter says 2 Peter 1:21: ‘Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’”  (Lectures on Deuteronomy, 1525. III, 2080, § 22; StL 3, 1410 ; LW 9, p. 52 “For who doubts…”; WA 14 586: Latin text) [NB: Caemmerer translated LW 9.]
“The Psalter ought to be a precious and beloved book, if for no other reason than this: it promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly—and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom—that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible. It is really a fine enchiridion or handbook. In fact, I have a notion that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble Himself to compile a short Bible and book of examples of all Christendom or all saints, so that anyone who could not read the whole Bible would here have anyway almost an entire summary of it, comprised in one little book.” (“Preface to the Psalter”, 1531 . XIV, 23. f. § 4; StL 14, 20, § 4; LW 35, p. 254.)
“You can not prove it from Scripture that Peter is called the Pope at all. This explanation is correct, for we are sure that it has not been devised by man but has been drawn from God’s Word. Now what is written and proclaimed in the prophets, says Peter, has not been invented
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1) See the Nicene Creed in the Book of Concord, Müller, p. 30. § 7 [BookOfConcord.org,  Triglotta p. 30, p. 7 § 7].

or devised by man; but the pious and holy men have said it as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (Sermon of 2 Peter, 1524. IX, 858. f. § 45; StL 9, 1362-1363, § 45; a close proximate is in LW 30, p 167.) [see addendum below, Marquart’s use of Luther on 1 Pe. 3:15]
To the words: “In the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God” (Lutherbibel Ps. 40:8-9 [KJV Ps. 40:7-8]), Luther adds: “The spirit speaks as if He knew of no book (even though the world is full of them), except only this book of Sacred Scripture. . .  This is the book of the Holy Spirit, in which one must seek and find Christ.” (“Exposition of Many Beautiful Passages of Holy Scripture, which Luther Wrote to Some in Their Bibles”. IX, 1364-1365 [StL 9, p. 1775; not in LW])
“Moses is the source from which all the holy prophets and also the apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, extracted divine wisdom. This being the case, we shall not live up to our calling better and in greater harmony with God’s will than by leading our followers to this source and showing them in our own way the seeds of divine wisdom which the Holy Spirit, through Moses, has sown in such a manner that neither reason nor the power of human nature, if it does not possess the Holy Spirit, can see or understand them.” (“Lectures on Psalm 90”, 1534. V, 1081; [StL 5, p. 733; LW 13, p. 75; WA 403 484;)

We censure the doctrines of men not because men have spoken them, but because they are lies and blasphemies against the Scriptures. And the Scriptures, although they too are written by men, are neither of men nor from men but from God.” (“Avoiding the Doctrines of Men”, 1522. XIX, 739 § 66 [StL 19, p. 621 § 66; LW 35, p. 153].)

“In this passage the Holy Spirit (Gen. 12:11-12) provides instruction about home life when he relates that Abraham spoke so amicably to Sarah. In the first place, he entreats her; in the second place, he adds those words about her beauty.” (“Lectures on Genesis”, 1536-1545, I, 1197 § 210 [StL 1, p. 794 § 210; LW 2, p. 296].) 1)   
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= = = = = = = = = =   continued in Part 9  = = = = = = = = = = =
The last emphasized quote of Luther above presents a good opportunity to display a rather stark contrast between Luther's teaching and that of the CTCR (Commission on Theology and Church Relations) of the LCMS.  Even today, the CTCR is still officially publishing an article of Prof. Martin H. Franzmann († 1976), “Seven Theses on Reformation Hermeneutics” (first published CTM 1969, Archive), that makes the following statement under Thesis VII (emphasis mine):
“… the overwhelming divinum and the tough humanum of Scripture”.
Franzmann was (and is) highly regarded by both the so-called "moderates" and the "conservatives" within the LCMS.  But his words (and the officially published words of today's CTCR) are clearly refuted by... Martin Luther, who said 
the Scriptures… are from God.
The current Wikipedia article on Franzmann says "he was notable for his traditional stance on Biblical inerrancy and inspiration..."  But we see from his statements and writings that this assertion is at least questionable. Franzmann is also known as a hymnist – two of his hymn titles speak of the "Word".  In these titles, could he have meant "Preach You the (tough humanum) Word" and "Thy Strong (tough humanum) Word"?  As an author, maybe Franzmann really meant as a title of one of his books The (tough humanum) Word of the Lord Grows:A First Historical Introduction to the New Testament? — The most appropriate description of Prof. Franzmann would be that he was a "mediating" theologian, and perhaps the most confusing theologian for Lutherans in the last 70 years. I may have more to say on Franzmann in a later installment.

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To confirm that the LCMS is today teaching the "tough humanum of Scripture", Prof. James Voelz of Concordia Seminary in his book What Does This Mean? stated the following, p. 242:
“...one cannot become 'Docetist' on this matter: the Scriptures still are products of human authors writing from a particular perspective at a particular point in time.”
What Prof. Voelz asserts here is what German theology asserted in Walther's time and is exactly what Martin Luther (and the 1886 Synodical Conference) defended against.
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      This installment ends with the reference to Walther's footnote #1.  And oh!... is it a major polemical footnote against German Theology!... spanning across 3 pages, in the next Part 9.  —

[The "Read more »" section below publishes an excerpt of Prof. Kurt Marquart’s use of Luther on 1 Pe. 3:15]