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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ecumenical Lutheranism (Part 3) (not Robert Kolb)

     This continues from Part 2 (Table of Contents in Part 1), reprinting the English translation, from the first issue of Concordia Journal (Jan. 1975), of Franz Pieper's “Vorwort” (Foreword) to the first issue of Concordia Theological Monthly (Jan. 1930). —
      This essay is a good antidote to the writings of Dr. Robert Kolb, who would be known in the world as the spokesman for today's “ecumenical Lutheranism”. But more of his books are published by non-Lutheran publishers (Baker, Eerdmans, etc.) than Lutheran.  Even his collaboration on the Book of Concord (2000) was with a theologian of, and published by, the ELCA, a synod supposedly not in fellowship with the LC-MS.  It does not matter how many times Robert Kolb repeats the term “justification by faith”, yet I have found nowhere where he clearly teaches an “objective justification" nor “universal justification”, the teachings that confirm the Lutheran sola fide, by faith alone without the deeds of the Law.  Never have I found Dr. Robert Kolb defending the ecumenical (and much maligned) doctrine of the Verbal Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures against a world of theologians vehemently denying it.  How sad!… how can any Christian be certain of his salvation without believing that the words of 2 Cor. 5:19 are actually God's Words? (Answer: you cannot).
      Now let us listen to a true Lutheran teacher, not the weak teacher (like C.S. Meyer), Dr. Robert Kolb:

All bold words are Pieper's emphasis. All highlighting by BackToLuther.

Franz Pieper's Foreword to Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 1
Translation by Paul H. F. Boecler  —  Part 3 (cont'd from Part 2)

The present danger in this kind of talk is that one may lose God’s Word altogether. “For the Holy Spirit will not allow Himself to be separated nor divided, so that He would let one point be taught or believed as true and the other as false. But special consideration must be shown the weak who are willing to be instructed and do not obstinately argue to the contrary.” (Luther’s works, St. Louis ed., XX, 1781 f, § 50 [Am. Ed. LW 38, p 308].; IX, 826 f.) 
The symbols of the Lutheran Church also bear abundant witness to ecumenical Lutheranism. The Augsburg Confession in Article VII allows consciences to be entirely free in “all ceremonies, instituted by men,” since these do not belong to the true unity of the Christian church. But the determination of what is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church, namely,
to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments,” also embodies the assertion that there be no differences in the Christian church, according to God’s will and order, but complete agreement with reference to the doctrine (consentire de doctrina evangelii et administratione sacramentorum).
Article X of the Formula of Concord does indeed teach that the churches “because of disparity in ceremonies, where one in Christian liberty has fewer or more of these, do not on that account condemn one another.” But there is the qualification: “if otherwise they agree with one another in the doctrine and all articles of the same, also in the right use of the Holy Sacraments.” The Formula of Concord would not be representing “ecumenical Lutheranism” in agreement with Matthew 28: “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you,” if it had not firmly asserted this truth.
Throughout its 75 years of publication, Lehre und Wehre has been in the service of “ecumenical Lutheranism.” From the first year’s edition on to the present, our “theological, church, and current events monthly” has taken the same position on Holy Scripture as did Christ and" His holy apostles: that Holy Scripture is God’s own inerrant, majestic Word and therefore the only source and norm of theology. On the basis of Holy Scripture our theological journal has expounded all Christian teachings again and again, briefly and at length. When they became known, Lehre und Wehre took due notice of all church events throughout the world and presented them in the light of God’s Word. The major publications in the area of Christian and theological literature were always given due attention. Whatever conformed to [CONCORDIA JOURNAL/January 1975, p. 17] Scripture was recommended and whatever conflicted with Scripture was exposed as such.
Lehre und Wehre was determined to expose especially the aberrations of modern Lutheran theology, which (we say it with regret) no longer holds Scripture to be God’s Word. As a result it thoroughly destroys the articles of Christian doctrine. Our journal explained what a grave menace these aberrations are for the saving Christian faith. This was done regarding individual publications of modern Lutheran theology as well as the entire neological product in its opposition to the Scriptural Lutheran doctrine. A comprehensive analysis and evaluation was offered in three volumes (1875, 1876, 1877) under the general heading: “What is to be said of the development of doctrine in modern Lutheran theology?”
The purpose of this comprehensive presentation is to convince the reader “that modern Lutheran theology is no development or a further growth of the old theology, but the most drastic defection from it, something entirely new, something altogether different” (Lehre und Wehre, XXI [1875], p. 161). In its contention for the genuine old Lutheran theology and the Wehre [defense] against the new, Lehre und Wehre could not ignore the situation at home, but was obliged to direct special attention to what was going on in the U. S. A. Until the year 1872 the most urgent question was: What is “ecumenical Lutheranism” in the teachings on church and ministry? Beginning with the year 1872 the situation became even more serious. Now the preeminent question became: What is “ecumenical Lutheranism” regarding the doctrine of the conversion and salvation of man? Are conversion and salvation the gift of God’s grace alone or is the superior quality of a person’s conduct in comparison with others ultimately a factor in God’s judgment?
This basic difference produced the controversy on the doctrine of God’s eternal election. The issue was whether election happened in view of faith. Is faith to be understood as a quality of personal conduct in comparison with others, or does eternal election as well as conversion rest on God’s grace and the merits of Christ alone? In accordance with “ecumenical Lutheranism” the Formula of Concord teaches: “The eternal election of God, however, not only foresees and foreknows the salvation of the elect, but is also, from the gracious will and pleasure of God in Christ Jesus, a cause which procures, works, helps, and promotes our salvation and what pertains thereto; and upon this [divine predestination] our salvation is so founded that ‘the gates of hell cannot prevail against it’ [Matt. 16:18], as it is written [John 10:28]: ‘Neither shall any man pluck My sheep out of My hand,’ and again [Acts 13:48]: ‘And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.’”
In agreement with “ecumenical Lutheranism” the Formula of Concord rejects as simply nonexistent any “better conduct” on the part of those who are converted and saved, in comparison with others who remain unconverted and are lost. Otherwise the Christian doctrine of election by grace would be set aside. In true ecumenical fashion the Formula of Concord concludes with finality all those questions which human reason would like to have answered, and does so by pointing to the limits set for human understanding in this life on earth. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thy help” [Hos. 13:9]. When, however, disputes on this question would tend to go beyond and exceed these limits, we join St. Paul and keep our lips sealed, earnestly reflect and say: “Who are you, a man, to answer back to God?” [Rom. 9:20]
This is the battle which Lehre und Wehre, together with other synodical publications, and particularly in association with the synodical brother 10 years older, the Der Lutheraner, fought for “ecumenical Lutheranism,” for the sake of the unadulterated doctrine of the church of the Reformation and in behalf of the “one great treasure of the Lutheran Church.” This “one great treasure of our Lutheran Church” in America was also commemorated at the 25th anniversary of the Synod (1872). Other churches, Catholics and sects, surpass us in numbers, in wealth, in imposing buildings, in high offices, in outward organization, and in other respects. The one [CONCORDIA JOURNAL/January 1975, p. 18] great treasure of the Lutheran Church is her doctrine, pure and in all points agreeing with Scripture.
- - - - - - - - - -   continued in Part 4   - - - - - - - - - - -

      After hearing Dr. Franz Pieper's clear teaching delineating the pure Christian doctrines of Conversion and the Election of Grace, we will now see how Dr. Robert Kolb treats other Christian doctrines, of Church and Ministry, in the interest of so-called “ecumenical Lutheranism” (from Concordia Journal, October, 2001, p. 295:
Dr. Robert Kolb (emeritus):
"stopped speaking,
could not dream,
missed the chance,
improper expression Bible truth,
served for political interests,
dishonest theological exertion,
C. F. W. Walthermay be worthy conversation partners in our discussion, but some of the most critical problems we face begin where they stopped speakingor even some distance after they stopped speaking—more than a century ago. We must answer questions of which they could not dream. They [Walther] provide us with an ecclesiology shaped for a world in which the church was conceived of as divided into “Konfessionen.” There is no readily understandable American translation of that concept! [Nonsense. Pieper just identified it to be “denominations”.] We have missed the chance to compose an expression of our ecclesiology for the denominational age of North American Christianity. We will reap only confusion and contention among ourselves and in our relations with other churches if we do not begin soon to formulate a proper expression of Biblical truth regarding the church for a post-denominational age. We must do so in humble submission to Scripture and to God's call to confess our faith abandoning use of ecclesiological problems as instruments for serving political interests [!] among us. We must turn to the honest theological exertion [i.e. forgetting Walther!]  required for repeating our doctrine of the church in ways that address the situation of the confession of Christ's Word in the early twenty-first century.”
Robert Kolb quite exposed himself in 2001 as abandoning truly Lutheran doctrine -- in his “post-denominational age”.  In fact, he shows himself to be of quite the same stripe as what Walther cried out against in 1875:
“Modern Lutheran theology is … the most drastic defection from it.”
Yes, that is Dr. Robert Kolb, a modern Lutheran theologian, a unionist of the most deceptive kind, in the mold of Prof. Theodore Graebner. — In the next Part 4

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