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Monday, April 22, 2019

If the sun doesn't rise… if the Son be not raised…; Nafzger strips Scripture bare (Part 2 of 2)

(Continued from Part 1)
      Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger (WayBk), in his locus "Holy Scripture" in the new LC-MS textbook Confessing the Gospel (to "update Pieper"), stated p. 686
“The gospel has a power … independent of the Scriptures
Nafzger's assertion is in direct opposition to Walther's (and the Lutheran Church's) teaching of sola Scriptura.  Nafzger has taken the LC-MS denial of the Bible's natural history to its natural outcome: stripping the Gospel's power from it. (Isn't this actually the so-called “Gospel reductionism” all over again? Isn't Nafzger's teaching actually the same as that of the 1974 "Walkout"?) How is a Christian today, with Nafzger's teaching, to know for a certainty that Christ was raised so that his faith is not in vain, that he, as a Christian, is not yet in his sins? Matt. 28:6 reports: "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said."  But according to Nafzger, where the Gospel is "independent of the Scriptures", we are forbidden from depending on Scripture for an assurance of faith, there is no "gospel power" in it.  (Just try to reconcile Nafzger's assertion with Luther's teaching on the Sacrament and the Doctrine of Inspiration!)
     Nevertheless, Walther held to the only certain proof that a Christian has today.  He fought for the Bible for dear life, for his spiritual life – it was a matter of life and death. C.F.W. Walther held to an inerrantinviolable Holy Scripture, all of it. 

===>>> Does the sun rise  (Josh. 10:12-14)? Was Christ really raised (Matt. 28:6)? 

It does, and He was.  How do I know this?  Because He said so, clear as the noonday sun. (Ps. 37:6) — With the ancient Church I confess:

He is Risen!  He is risen indeed! The Bible tells me so!

That is my "Sunrise Service" for the day after Easter, 2019.

[A good antidote to Nafzger's teaching is Prof. Eugene Klug's 1975 Springfielder essay “Saving Faith and the Inerrancy of Scripture” - download here; text with hyperlinks here.]

Sunday, April 21, 2019

60 years ago, no sunrise in the Synodical Conference… (Part 1)

Easter 2019 
1 Cor. 15:17 —
“If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
Romans 4:25 —
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” 
C.F.W. Walther stated in 1880, Der Lutheraner, July 1, 1880:
“If  the sun had (not) stood still at Joshua's prayer (Joshua 10:12-14) …, so also is the whole Bible not true.”
 Unfortunately today, for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, things are not so clear.
blogs.lcms.org 2017 lc-ms-publishes-first-dogmatics-in-100-years
Dr. Ralph Bohlmann, Dr. Samuel Nafzger, Pres. Matthew Harrison

      In November 1972, Dr. Ralph Bohlmann († 2016), Executive Secretary of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations, explicitly denied the natural history taught in Joshua 10:12-14 by denying that the Biblical terms "sunrise" and "sunset" refer to actual events that everyone on Earth witnesses… daily.  
He did this in his Study Edition of A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles, pp. 22, 26, and 33. In each instance he referenced the “1959 Statement on Scripture”. This “Statement on Scripture” had been adopted at the 1959 LC-MS Convention here.  Ah, but this statement was first adopted at the 1958 Synodical Conference convention in Lakewood Ohio, August 5-8.  This “Statement on Scripture” may be viewed  here, p 17-22.  In 1959 there was no true Easter sunrise or "Sunrise Service" in the Synodical Conference or the LC-MS – the Biblical term "sunrise" was now said to be only used “symbolically, metaphorically, metonymically” or “in the common language of man”. The passages of Joshua 10:12-14 were utterly ignored. — This story gets much worse than just a denial by the LC-MS and the Synodical Conference of the natural history of Joshua 10:12-14.  The story will continue in the next Part 2
[2010-04-21: text in red above subsequently added after initial post.] 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sacramental Theology vs Theology of the Sacrament (Harrison - LC-MS vs Luther and the Word)

[2019-05-30: appendix II added on Nicholas Hunnius teaching; 2019-05-19: appendix added at bottom in red on Prof. David Scaer]
      There is much talk of "sacramental theology" in today's LCMS.  On the face of it, they appear to want to defend Lutheranism against the encroachments of the Reformed in today's theological "scene".  After finishing my recent series on Luther's (and Walther's) Doctrine of Inspiration, I came across a reference to a matter that touched on this in Matthew Harrison's 1993 account of his early efforts as a missionary to a native Canadian (or Indian) tribe.  This was published in Logia vol. 7 (1998), no. 3 pp. 29-33 (article only).  Harrison was attempting to negotiate with his Lutheran guides who had already submitted to the demands of the local Reformed missionaries against a Lutheran Holy Communion. At this point, Harrison had grown in his doctrinal understanding and attempted to hold the Lutheran line with the following explanation (p. 31, bolding is mine) :
The plan for a Lutheran church among native Canadians was sidetracked as we argued about the necessity of the sacraments in addition to the word, as though the former might in certain circumstances be jettisoned for the greater good of the “gospel.” Luther, however, saw most clearly that the sacraments are the gospel.” 7      ( 7.  WA 11: 432, 19 ff. [AE 36:277; StL 19, 1310, 6-9])
The sacraments are the gospel?  That is how Harrison wanted to emphasize what he considered the difference between Lutherans and Reformed.  What struck me at this point was that Harrison's assertion about Luther's teaching on the Sacrament of the Altar seemed at odds with the way Luther actually taught.  So I went to Luther’s essay that Harrison himself referenced (ad fontes).  Strangely Harrison did not cross reference his Weimar edition footnote to the American Edition, so I had to do this work myself with Steve Born's handy cross-reference. It is in Luther's Works volume 36, pp. 275-305, an essay entitled “The Adoration of the Sacrament”.  What I found was that Luther taught differently than the way Harrison stated it.  In fact in the following essay Luther sounds at times rather more Reformed than Lutheran.  Ah, but just listen to Luther, because all the Reformed sects were first Lutheran:

“The Adoration of the Sacrament”
by Martin Luther (Luther's Works 36, p. 277-278; bolding, enlargement, highlighting are mine)
In the first place, we have often said that the chief and foremost thing in the sacrament is the word of Christ, when he says: “Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you.” Likewise also, when he took the cup, he said: “Take and drink of it, all of you, this is the cup of a new testament in my blood which is shed for You for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.”

Everything depends on these words. Every Christian should and must know them and hold them fast. He must never let anyone take them away from him by any other kind of teaching, even though it were an angel from heaven [Gal. 1:8]. They are words of life and of salvation, so that whoever believes in them has all his sins forgiven through that faith; he is a child of life and has overcome death and hell. Language cannot express how great and mighty these words are, for they are the sum and substance of the whole gospel. This is why these words are far more important than the sacrament itself, and a Christian should make it a practice to give far more attention to these words than to the sacrament. But as a matter of fact the situation everywhere is just the reverse of this because of the false teachers. They have depreciated these words in the eyes of the people, hidden them securely besides, and called attention only to the sacrament. The result is that faith has been lost and the sacrament has been turned into a purely external work devoid of faith.
Now, in accord with this distinction between the words and the sacrament, and in view of the greater worth of the words, one must also measure the honor that is to be bestowed on the sacrament. If you accord less honor to the words than to the sacrament itself, it is a sure sign that you do not properly understand the sacrament. For example, if you bow or kneel before the sacrament, and do not do so even much more before the words of the sacrament, especially in your heart, you are really inverting the honors. For that reason it is highly important to lead the people back from the sacrament to the words, and to accustom them to pay much more attention to the words than to the sacrament; then it would be easy to preach about honoring the sacrament. But where this is not the case, no other kind of preaching will help; there will continue to be nothing but an outward dissembling with respect to the sacrament, with bowing, bending, kneeling, and adoring, but without any spirit or faith.
But the honor which is to be accorded the Word is of two kinds. One kind is external, as when a person writes [its] words with big, beautiful, glowing gold or silver letters, lays it away in beautiful silk cloths, and carefully preserves it. It is external honor also when one cries them aloud and sings them in stately fashion—or out of respect keeps them secret, the un-Christian practice that formerly prevailed. But God and his Word do not care about such childish external honor.
Replacements for the Word
in the LC-MS

The proper way to honor the Word is to fix it in your heart. The heart is its real gilded ciborium. You accord the Word more precious honor with your heart, than if you were to build a ciborium for the sacrament out of pure gold or the most costly jewels.


For it is certainly true that you can have life, righteousness, and salvation without the sacrament, but you cannot have life, righteousness, and salvation without the Word, even though you were to receive the sacrament not only three times a day (as the priests do at Christmas) but even three times an hour.
Now when I say that you should fix the Word of God in your heart I do not mean merely that you should know it and meditate on it. That is nothing. I mean rather that you should regard and esteem it as it ought to be regarded and esteemed.
That is, you should hold it to be a living, eternal, all-powerful Word that can make you alive, free from sin and death, and keep you so eternally; that brings with it everything of which it speaks, namely, Christ with his flesh and blood and everything that he is and has. For it is the kind of Word that can and does do all these things, and therefore it should be so regarded. That is its own proper honor. It is not satisfied with any other kind of honor. In short, the proper honor for the Word is nothing else than a genuine faith from the bottom of one’s heart, a faith that holds the Word to be true, that trusts it and stakes its life upon it for eternity.

That is what we have believed and still believe about this sacrament. But in order that we may better understand and grasp it, let us treat the matter more fully and show how so many wanton spirits have taken offense at it. In this way we will see how impossible it is to stay on the right track when the Word is not held in the highest esteem and when faith in it is not exercised.
= = = = = = = = = = = =
To be clear, Matthew Harrison said that Luther said
"The sacraments are the gospel" (Harrison's italics)
but Luther said
"These words are the sum and substance of the whole gospel." (my italics)
Luther uses the word "word" or "words" or "Word" 25 times in these early paragraphs of his essay.  Pure gold — not the 24-carat gold of the ciborium — but spiritual gold for a believer's heart.  There is plenty of teaching in this essay to refute the Reformed doctrine of Holy Communion and it was actually written to some who were reported to "not hold to the real presence".  But Luther's teaching at the same time forcefully teaches against the Roman ex opere operato: i.e. the work itself is meritorious. — Now with Luther's encouragement (adoration) for the Word first, I can believe what is not possible to believe by my own reason or strength, my freedom from sin and death. And second, that the true body and blood are distributed "in, with, and under" the bread and wine and contain God's forgiveness of sins.
      No, President Matthew Harrison, your assertion, that "the sacraments are the gospel", is a weak one that allows the notion of a sacrament without the Word. Your assertion falls on Luther's teaching that one can have saving faith without the sacrament.  Your assertion leaves one to think that you, as Luther says, "accord less honor to the words than to the sacrament itself". Your assertion falls if your "adoration" is not first and foremost an adoration of the Word. I was taught in my youth a better way of thinking about the sacraments, that they are the "visible Word", a phrase that naturally teaches what Luther inculcates above. The Gospel is contained in the Word, and the Sacraments are built on the Word that contains the Gospel.
      No, President Harrison, go Back To Luther on the Theology of the Sacrament. Then you can be a proper missionary to those native Canadians (Indians), and you can send out proper Christian (Lutheran) missionaries to the world, missionaries who adore the Word… first.  The Sacrament will then naturally follow.

[There are so many refutations of today's LCMS teachers in just these paragraphs of Luther that I almost went dizzy trying to figure out which ones to use.  I plan to reference this post for some upcoming blogs.]
= = = = = = = = = = =

2019-05-19 Appendix I: Harrison's theology matches the teaching of Prof. David Scaer who stated in his 2000 CTQ essay "Reformed Exegesis and Lutheran Sacraments: Worlds in Conflict", p. 8: 
"In Reformed thought, faith, and not the sacraments, is seen as necessary for salvation."
It is striking that Scaer attempts to refute Reformed theology on this foundational Lutheran article (sola fide). We see that his theology is at sharp odds with that of Martin Luther's, who said above:
"For it is certainly true that you can have life, righteousness, and salvation without the sacrament, but you cannot have life, righteousness, and salvation without the Word." 
Isn't Scaer's theology rather un-Confessional, un-Lutheran?\
- - - - - - - - - -
2019-05-30 Appendix II: In Nicholas Hunnius's book Diaskepsis Theologica, a book defending against the Reformed, he confirms Luther's teaching above on p. 189, § 448: "…the use of the holy Supper is not required as an absolute necessity."