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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Men on the moon or… where? (young Walther)

A story I read in Polack's The Story of. C.F.W. Walther (1935), p. 21-22, struck me as evidence of Walther's later early firmness in defending against the encroachment of “Science” in matters of religion:

      “When I was still tutor in Kahla in 1834, I occasionally disputed with my principal on the question whether everything in the Bible is trustworthy, divine truth. My principal was not at all antagonistic to Christianity, but in his youth he had imbibed many rationalistic ideas, which had not been entirely eradicated. He held, for instance, that what the Bible said about the stars was only the personal opinion of Moses and had not been inspired by the Holy Spirit. He therefore believed that the stars were not mere luminous bodies, but inhabited by similar creatures as our earth. My efforts to change his mind were in vain.

One day he came into my room with a beaming countenance, holding a newspaper in his hands, and said: ’My dear Candidate, you are beaten. I have just read in this paper that the great astronomer Herschel, Jr., who went to Africa at the beginning of this year, has by means of a huge telescope discovered manlike creatures on the moon. Read it for yourself.’  I did so, and the paper actually contained the account as told by my principal. But I then replied:
'Beg pardon, my dear principal, but I hope you do not believe that? Indeed, I declare that, if I myself would look through that telescope and see manlike creatures running around on the moon, I should not believe it; I should hold that these ostensible human beings must be in the telescope. 
Walther's Biblical Astronomy 
My principal thereupon said: ’I fully realize that nothing can be done with you!’ and impatiently left the room.”
      Walther then relates that about a half year later the newspaper retracted the article because it had been prepared by an impostor as a hoax and that the famous Herschel had never written it!

      That Walther could point to a later retraction of the story (the Great Moon Hoax) in no way takes away from his original stand... Walther stood 100% on the Holy Scriptures as the unbreakable, inviolable, inerrant, ultimate Truth.  He later confirmed this in America in 1868 when he counseled the Eastern District pastors to believe the Bible, not Copernicanism.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Marquart's finest essay? warning for today's LC-MS

[2019-04-13: added more to addendum at bottom; 2018-09-20: added 2 notes at bottom in red on: Robert Preus and David Scaer; 2018-09-12: hyperlink added in red below]
      I have cautioned against Prof. Kurt Marquart († 2006) in places on this blog as he had some very real blind spots in his theology.  But 52 years ago he wrote an essay for Herman Otten's Lutheran News (now Christian News) that exhibited no small measure of insight in the near total apostasy of the LC-MS at that time and is surprisingly relevant for today's LC-MS.  

Although today's LC-MS is quietly leaving Marquart behind, yet its Christian Cyclopedia at least acknowledges Marquart's book Anatomy of an Explosion (available here only $4.99 $8.25) as having some benefit for understanding the events surrounding the 1974 "Walkout" and the subsequent formation of Seminex.  Since the LC-MS is still recommending his book, I want to highlight his essay written 11 years prior to his famous book.  Otten reprinted this essay in his A Christian Handbook of Vital Issues published in 1973, pp. 785-786.  All red highlighted words are Marquart's passionate warning words, now also for today's LC-MS:
The Luther Tower,
Concordia Seminary,
St. Louis, Missouri.

Meditation On a Tower
June 13, 1966 (Lutheran News)
By Rev. Kurt Marquart, Toowoomba, Australia.
Some recent issues of LUTHERAN NEWS and a Luther Tower publicity packet arrived here just in time to combine with the star of the Gospel for Exaudi (John 15:26-16:4) into one brilliant conjunction of meaning.
So Concordia Seminary finally celebrated its architectural coronation! And on the very day in May when the Red Slave Empire observes its annual ghoulish war-dances! It was Luther, thundering against the modern Pope and Turk: “The Word shall stand despite all foes!”
Or was he? Symbolically, yes. But what of the reality? Does Concordia Seminary still have a right to have a Luther Tower— or even only a Walther Arch? Does it still teach the theology for which it was built and dedicated?
Alas, another spirit now seems to dominate those beautiful buildings! Almost every week new and ever more shocking evidence appears that God’s Word is now hated and despised where once it reigned supreme! Through a thousand cracks the New Theology is oozing in—or out?! Exploratory essays, secret essays, ambiguous “formulations,” endless explanations, evasions, excuses, procedures, prevarications! And while the theological obscenities go unrebuked year after year, swift denunciations and defamations follow any Confessional protest, John 16:2!
Thank God, the pious mask is at last being torn off all this hypocrisy. While the new Luther Tower stands helplessly enveloped in nebulous theology and unctuous rhetoric about “the Word,” the “Gospel,” and soon, an increasing number of men whose lives are commemorated there are beginning to wake up to the frightful reality. A pastoral conference [2018-09-12 link added] resolving to tell all to their people, because they can see that the errors are not being corrected;
a professor [Dr. Robert Preus], like Jeremiah of old, giving an “Honest Answer” with all the fiery eloquence of an outraged conscience; a rising school of intelligent young theologians refusing to hold on, superstitiously, to the tails of all the important Liberal sacred cows: all these are signs that the hour of decision is coming. At last silence will be impossible, even in high places.
Dishonesty of Pretending
Cannot the Silent Service see the dishonesty of pretending that no one is teaching false doctrine, when the very C.T.M. lends itself to such obvious attacks on Scripture as Dr. A. C. Piepkorn’s “What Does ‘Inerrancy’ Mean?” (September, 1965)?
The arguments of that article have been sufficiently answered by Dr. [John Warwick] Montgomery and others. I will add only two footnotes. First, Dr. Piepkorn has embedded in his article, toward the end, a conscientious scruple which, if taken seriously, would bring down his whole essay like a house of cards. He cautions against violating, for fear of “being classified as obscurantists . . . our Lord’s words, ‘Whosoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels’ (Matthew 8:38).” Dr. Piepkorn does something very remarkable here, which no opponent of Inerrancy in our circles has as yet done: he introduces a Scriptural, a priori argument, a genuine theological leaven, which if allowed to leaven the whole lump, would destroy the entire objection to Inerrancy! The rest of the article, to be sure, is the usual approach, trying to resolve the Inerrancy issue on the basis of a posteriori human observation, impression, research, etc. Yet if we are truly not ashamed of such words of the Son of Man as John 3:12 and John 10:35, then we must accept the Scripture as inerrant on its own testimony and authority, before and without any scholarly inquiries into alleged errors and contradictions. Secondly, Dr. Piepkorn’s forte is of course the Lutheran Confessions. It is therefore particularly disappointing that he does not do justice to them. While admitting that “Lutheran clergymen and professors affirm … everything that the Lutheran symbols say about the Sacred Scriptures,” Dr. Piepkorn plays irrelevantly with the word “vocable,” and stages an elaborate safari into The Oxford English Dictionary, but studiously avoids telling us specifically what the Symbols do in fact say about the Sacred Scriptures. He says merely that “the freedom of the Sacred Scriptures from error is largely an unarticulated assumption of undefined scope”!
Special Pleading
Now that is special pleading with a vengeance! With Dr. Piepkorn’s well known penchant for almost pedantically meticulous citations of the ipsissima verba [or ipsius verba], particularly of the Symbolical Books, he had no right to omit to tell us, for example, that Luther’s Large Catechism says with all due articulation: “God’s Word can neither lie nor deceive” (“Gottes Wort kann nicht fehlen,” “nec potest errare nec fallere,” Baptism, 57)! [Triglotta German, Triglotta Latin, McCain, p. 429, Tappert, p. 444, Kolb-Wengert, p. 464]
And there, in the Latin, we have even the very “vocable” which, together with the negative prefix “in” (see Oxford Dictionary) gives us our word “inerrant”!
Now suppose that the Catechism had said: “God’s Word can both lie and deceive.” Undoubtedly this quotation would then be cast in our teeth with maddening regularity in English, German, and Latin, at every mention of Inerrancy! But since it says the opposite, it must be muted into “a largely unarticulated assumption”! This is tendentious “Haggadah,” [A legend, parable, or anecdote]  not an objective exposition of the Lutheran Confessions.
Some of Dr. Piepkorn’s colleagues, working in the very shadow of the Luther Tower, have published even more blatant attacks upon the Bible and the Reformation. And then there are the River Forest essays.
And the official fury? It spends itself largely in a cowardly castigation of those who refuse to be dumb dogs or to cry “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. …
When Will You Speak Up
To overlook and ignore all this, to excuse, cover up, and protect this shamelessly massive assault upon the very foundations of the Church, and then to name the tower of the very institution which prides itself on its confusion of tongues, after the great Reformer, is surely to invoke upon oneself the terrible Woe spoken against those who “build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous” (Matthew 23:29)!
Pastors, professors, officials—you who still have a conscience—when will you speak up? How long can you keep silent—and still save your souls? Cut through the slimy cobweb of lies! Take a stand, and be interiorly free again! Imitate Our Saviour in rejecting “influence” purchased at the price of even one moments’ adoration of Satan, Matt. 4:9 ff.!
Perhaps you will lose an official position. But think of your joy on the Day of Judgement, when you will be excused from the “special ceremony for dignitaries from the Greater Jerusalem area”!
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Dear God! ... when I read this essay, I could not help but be amazed that Marquart was blind to the same error in Hermann Sasse that he was defending against in Arthur Carl Piepkorn regarding the Inerrancy of Holy Scripture. Nevertheless, Prof. Kurt Marquart is not far behind in the footsteps of Prof. Theodore Engelder and his 1944 book The Scripture Cannot Be Broken. — This essay is a prelude to a future publication of Walther's Foreword to Lehre und Wehre of 1886 that I am in the process of translating now... perhaps later this year.
==>> The Bible is God's Word and is INERRANT -- THIS IS TAUGHT EXPLICITLY in Luther's Large Catechism. It is Confessional!
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2018-09-20: A year later, Robert Preus, in his 1967 CTM essay "Notes on the Inerrancy of Scripture", p. 364, referenced the same source in the Confessions as Marquart did above: "Large Catechism (Baptism 57 [Tappert, p. 444]) : 'My neighbor and I – in short, all men – may err and deceive, but God’s Word cannot err'". — On quite the opposite side, David Scaer, in his 1971 book The Apostolic Scriptures, p. 67, said "The concept of inspiration as it has been generally understood ... has at times tended to prevent a fuller understanding of the Scriptures."
2019-04-13: Another statement by Luther in his Large Catechism speaks similarly as above, LC - Sacrament of the Altar, 76
"Therefore, if you cannot feel it, at least believe the Scriptures; they will not lie to you."