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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Walther attends Old Presbyterian Assembly (Slavery 4a)

           This continues from Part 3 (Table of contents in Part 1) on the Bible and slavery. In May 1866, the Old School Presbyterians held their General Assembly in St. Louis.  Presbyterianism is not normally a subject of this blog, but this meeting was different, for it had one in attendance who was the leading Lutheran in America — C. F. W. Walther.  Why would Walther attend a meeting of Presbyterians? (This was not a regular activity for him.) He gives his answer at the top of his 3-page report.  I spent considerable time polishing a translation only to find that portions had already been printed in English, from the original meeting (links provided to the original). I decided to keep my translation and provide links to both the Lehre und Wehre report and a Presbyterian pastor's printed address.  I am publishing this in 3 installments to highlight what Walther considered important, for that was my interest. Wherever Walther found a love for Holy Scripture, he rejoiced in it. For a background of the early history of the Presbyterians in America see this Wikipedia article. — In the following, underlining is Walther’s emphasis. Wording in parentheses ( ) is Walther's notations. Words originally printed in English are italicized. Square brackets [ ] are my insertions. Highlighting is mine. From Lehre und Wehre, vol. 12 (1866), pp. 213-216:
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     The General Assembly of the Old School Presbyterians met recently alongside that of the New School here in St. Louis. Since we had heard and read so much about the dignity by which this church body [the “Old School”] distinguished itself from others of its kind in its whole appearance and in the manner of its proceedings, we could not resist the desire to see this venerable body for ourselves on the occasion that now presented itself. We went there on May 22, 1866. But how disappointed we were! When we entered the meeting, it was just this: The Presbytery of Louisville had protested against certain resolutions of the General Assembly concerning slavery and loyalty, as contrary to God's Word and to earlier resolutions of the same Assembly itself. For the sake of this protest, the delegates of this presbytery had been unheard and refused to sit in the Assembly. Against this a number of 18 members of the last named body had protested. So a Mr. Galloway, a former congressional member from Ohio, appeared and sought to justify the proceedings of the Assembly in a long address. But this was done in such a frivolous, profane manner, with such manifest miserable sophistries and jests, amid resounding laughter from the whole Venerable Body, that one thought one was in a Ward Meeting, in which stump speeches [by political candidates] were held for the imposition of a disreputable party candidate. 

There was no calling on the Word of God

There was no calling on the Word of God, even on the Constitution of the Assembly; rather the speaker derived the exercised power from a "higher law" than that of the Constitution, namely from the law of "self-respect"; interpellated with the question of a proof, the speaker invoked legal authorities and the proceedings of the present Congress! Even if the Assembly, contrary to the Word of God, establishes something, there is no other way out than to resign, because "its decisions are the highest and a binding law." Without first hearing the delegates, they were therefore to be excluded from further participation in the proceedings, solely “because of their defiant and reproachful language” against the highest court of the Presbyterian Church, which is constituted by the Head of the Church through His chosen people. It was indeed no different for us here than if we were in Costnitz [in Germany]. The address was interrupted not only by loud laughter, clapping of hands and other signs of merriment, but also by the appearance of a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church as its delegate, who gave an address which was replied to by the moderator; but we must confess that we never heard so many sine mente sonos [“sounds without a mind”]  delivered with so great pathos, as on the part of the former [Dutch Reformed pastor], and never so many vacuous compliments, as on the part of the Moderator, in a church meeting. We went away deeply saddened; we thought to ourselves, is this happening to the green wood, what will happen to the dry [when it ages]? If this is how it stands with the most serious religious fellowship in America [Old School Presbyterians], how might it stand with those fellowships whose foreign, wild fire is proverbial [e.g. the “New School”]? There is no doubt that the last years of war [Civil War], with their political fanaticism and their deluge of humanistic ideas, have wrought terrible havoc, especially in the Old School Presbyterian Church, which was formerly in better standing. — In order to get to know the spirit of those whom the General Assembly has excluded from itself, one must look at the statements [LuW p. 214] of those who in the Assembly have defended the excluded and made their cause their own. 

Rev. James Hall Brookes (1830 – 1897)

Among these persons is the local [St. Louis] Presbyterian pastor, Rev. J. H. Brookes, D.D., who, in a lengthy address delivered to the General Assembly on May 31, and already in printing [Google Books, full proceedings here], said, among other things: 

“Not having come here merely to have the glory of victory, but to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and for the truth which is in Jesus, I shall proceed with firmness, and, in my conviction, with respect to the high court, in expressing the views entertained by those [Louisville Presbytery] who have been brought before your court. The insulting epithets which have been heaped upon us without measure will not be returned to their authors; but until you show us by a calling upon the Holy Scriptures and the Constitution of the Church, we shall not be able to do so. But until you can show us by an appeal to Holy Scripture and to the Constitution of the Church that we are in error, we must stand where we stand, undaunted by threat and power. May the gentlemen cease to make general accusations and prove that we are in error, or, sir, we will steadfastly hold our ground, so help us God. Amen!" [A clear reference to Martin Luther’s stand at the Diet of Worms.] (At these words there was loud applause in the galleries, which the speaker earnestly forbade, asking those concerned to consider that they were in the house of God). 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Continued in Part 4b   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Walther was shocked to find that even the "Old School", the "most serious religious fellowship in America", apart from the old Missouri Synod, had succumbed to an anti-Scriptural position.  But in the midst of this he highlights the protesting opposition within this fellowship, of the Louisville Presbytery, and their "Declaration and Testimony" petition. 
      This matter could be superimposed on a convention of the LC-MS, but then again, there seems no leader or teacher within the LC-MS holding to the Biblical doctrine on slavery. That is why Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz is notable today for even mentioning the word "slavery" (see Part 1). — In the next Part 4b, Walther continues his lengthy quote from the stirring address of Rev. Brookes.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Walther's letter to A. C. Preus on Slavery (Norwegian Synod) (Slavery 3)

Rev. Adolph Carl Preus (ELS Ottesen Museum)
      This continues from Part 2 (Table of contents in Part 1) on the Bible and slavery.  (Also it follows Part 4 in a 2021 series on the Letters of C. F. W. Walther) — In  the Letters series Part 2, I highlighted a snippet from Walther's 1860 lengthy letter to the first leader of the Norwegian Synod in America (now ELS), Pastor Adolph Carl Preus.  That letter is perhaps the greatest personal writing of Walther on the issue of Slavery to a fellow Lutheran church body leader in America.  The matter of Walther on Slavery is much like that of Luther and the Jews — quite agitating in the Lutheran Church, and a weapon of the world against Luther, Lutheranism, and especially Holy Scripture.  But the true Church does not listen to the world for its wisdom, it turns to the Word of God, and if Luther were alive today, he would respond to the matter of Slavery just as Walther did, Biblically.  Let the unbelievers and agitators burn as many Bibles as they want, they can never destroy the Truth. 
      This 1860 letter precedes Walther's major series of articles in Lehre und Wehre in 1863, during the Civil War, which was published in English on LutherQuest here (or here) One may also read the English version from the machine translation of Lehre und Wehre vol. 9 (January through June) on the Internet Archive. But the letter published below is a private correspondence with another synod leader, one who struggled with the slavery issue. Here we see Walther's masterful Biblical counsel to Pastor A. C. Preus, the first leader of the oldest Norwegian Synod in America. He also happens to be a forefather of the Preus family in the LCMS, including those involved with the planned Luther Classical College in Wyoming: 

To repeat the core of Walther's counsel, Pastor Preus should proceed by
“drafting such theses as were calculated to show that when you say something is not in itself a sin, you are not thereby excusing, glossing over, or even justifying the sinfulness that is bound up with it.”
As Pastor Preus struggled with this issue, so I struggled with it. But Walther carefully delineates the most vexing aspect, the institution of Slavery. Unfortunately today's LC-MS is very much like the old Norwegian Synod in that it does not teach what the Bible teaches, at least not to the public, that the institution of slavery, apart from circumstances, is not sinful as such. It teaches as Pastor A. C. Preus did in the old Norwegian Synod, and so it needs to hear Walther's counsel. It needs to turn away from the wisdom of the world and not condemn an institution that God allowedWould to God the LC-MS leaders and teachers would learn from this letter. — In the next Part 4a, Walther's personal report on a Presbyterian controversy on slavery.

[For further information on Old Missouri and slavery, click on the "Read more…" section below]

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

"Slavery in itself is not a sin" (Der Lutheraner 1864): Pharisaic piety "rages, rants, raves and reviles" (Slavery 2)

       This continues from Part 1 (Table of contents in Part 1) in a series on slavery. — The subject of slavery is certainly a "hot topic" today. Our modern world plays upon our natural feelings, especially of Christians, to cause a mistrust and outright denial of Holy Scripture on a matter that is explicitly taught.  As I discovered the following writing in Der Lutheraner, I was somewhat surprised that, although it appears that the level of contention is higher today than it has ever been, the following shows that it was also very true over 150 years ago, at the time of the American Civil War.  Both Profs. C. F. W. Walther and Wilhelm Sihler had written extensively about it previously in the publications of the Old Missouri Synod.  But another professor, signed "B." and probably Prof. E. A. Brauer who served full-time from 1863-1872, came forward to defend against attacks on Missouri by the Lutheran Herald, a publication of the abolitionist Lutheran Franckean Synod of New York. Brauer's brief remarks make for one of the best short defenses against "Pharisaic piety" of abolitionism, and for the Biblical doctrine of… slavery.  From Der Lutheraner, volume 20, p. 158 (No. 20, June 15, 1864) [EN]:                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Prof. E. A. Brauer (1819–1896)
Prof. E. A. Brauer

The “Herald. The rage of the post-Lutherans, these people, whose characteristic consists in the fact that they do not respect the Word of God, even reject it and whistle at it, where it does not please them, where it dares to contradict the "pious" delusion of their heart, the "holy" rage of these people against the Scriptural doctrine of slavery is really extraordinary. How tremendously their deep feeling, humane, righteous Pharisee heart burns against this “abomination”! Oh, how God must rejoice over these pious, virtuous, loving people! How will He reward them for their holy, fervent love of man! Who is the hard-hearted, “slave-driving” Apostle Paul against these burning heroes of love! Yes, these self-sanctified, miserable Pharisees and shameful rebels against God's Word! — 

"A slave owner should only treat his servants in a Christian manner"

God teaches in His Word that slavery in itself is not a sin, that a slave owner therefore does not need to release his slaves in order to be a Christian; just as, for example, a robber chief, if he wants to be a Christian, must release his band of robbers, because robbery is sin in itself. A slave owner should only treat his bonded servants and maids in a Christian manner, just as a father treats his wife and children and a factory owner his workers. Again, a slave, if he wants to be a Christian, should not run away from his master, but rather hold him in high esteem, and if his master is a Christian, he should not despise him under the pretense that he is a brother, but rather be of service to him. That is why Paul also sends the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master, Philemon, after he had become a Christian and now had a heart that listened to God's Word and wanted to follow God's holy will. St. Paul writes to Timothy, 1 Tim. 6:1-3

“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness.” 

Further, Ephesians 6:5-9: 

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Here the master is called a freeman, because the servants of whom Paul speaks here were slaves who had no freedom). And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” —  

This doctrine of God is also the doctrine of the Missouri Synod, which Prof. Walther and Dr. Sihler have pronounced in Der Lutheraner and Lehre und Wehre. About this now the Lutheran Herald rages, rants, raves and reviles in the vilest manner. For the sake of this Scriptural doctrine, Dr. Sihler is called a “disgraceful Lutheran theologian” and Prof. Walther a “fox”. This is how these post-Lutheran Pharisees do it, this is how furious they become when the Word of God goes against the Pharisaic piety of their natural godless heart of love.       B. [E. A. Brauer]

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      How refreshing for me were the sharp remarks of Prof. Brauer! [Note: the essay could have come from part-time professor Th. Brohm.] And the quotes from Holy Scripture were most helpful in reinforcing the Biblical teaching. While the media and erring churches, like the Franckean Synod and its offspring ELCA of today, focus on the slave owners who did not treat their slaves in a Christian manner, including the travesty of the lynching of black persons which Missouri reported and condemned, yet one historian notes that "It has been noted as an ironic fact of history that southern clergymen did more for the Christian instruction of slaves than ministers in the North did for free blacks." (p. 137 here; see also here for a contemporary accounting).  When southern people apologize for their ancestors who were sinning as slave owners as such, they are the ones who are actually sinning as slanderers. — Of course this is not a popular position in the world, and it was even a cause for friction with the conservative old Norwegian Synod. But Brauer's writing sets forth the truth of the matter: "Thy Word is Truth", John 17:17. — In Part 3, we publish an impassioned pastoral letter of Walther to the prominent leader of the Norwegian Lutheran synod.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Dr. Adam Koontz touches on… slavery (Slavery 1)

Dr. Adam Koontz, delivering essay in 2023
       In a YouTube recording of Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz's presentation to the 2023 Luther Classical College conference, he touched on one of the more controversial subjects within the LCMS — slavery (46:46 mark): 
“There's almost nothing, whether you like it or not, almost nothing more normal in human history than somebody owning slaves. Unusual is the fact that our country along with Britain abolished first the slave trade and then the institution of slavery, that's pretty unusual.

That this statement was noted by the audience was brought out by an audience member in the "Questions" period at the 54:30 mark. Dr. Koontz addresses the subject from a broader historical setting as he defends against the current "woke" theology. Even some within his own LC-MS might construe his statement as "pro-slavery". Dr. Koontz, along with a few other prominent people within the LC-MS (and outside of it), is defending against current teachings held even within the Concordia university system.  On the issue of slavery, the leaders and teachers in their seminaries appear to be irreformable.  But Bible teaching on the subject is clear, even if it is not clear to LCMS officials. — In the next Part 2 of a 6-part series on slavery, we bring another testimony from the OLD (German) Missouri Synod to add to that of the fathers of the Synod. 
- - - - - - - -  Table of Contents  - - - - - - - 
Part 1: This blog post on Dr. Adam Koontz's address
Part 2: Prof. E. A. Brauer's Der Lutheraner blurb defending against "Pharisaic piety"
Part 3: Walther's pastoral letter to A. C. Preus, leader of the Old Norwegian Synod
Part 4a: Walther attends Old Presbyterian Assembly; Rev. Brookes' address defending Scripture on slavery
Part 4b: Brookes' address continued: higher authority than prejudices and passions -> Scripture
Part 4c: Presbyterians: authority of Scripture… or not?

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

U. A. C. = "Unaltered Augsburg Confession": Denver church's confession

     I was recently shocked to hear a podcasting LCMS pastor criticize Prof. F. Bente's strong defense of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, or "U.A.C". I stated in that blog post that "In earlier times one would occasionally see the acronym "UAC" in the name of a Lutheran church on their outdoor signage in front of the church building." I had assumed that there was probably no longer any current LCMS congregations who display this to the public.  But to my surprise and joy, while watching a video of a lecture by Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz, I noticed that the placard on the front of his podium exhibited just this confession.  At right is a wider picture, and below is a blow-up of the podium placard, with my notations:

Not knowing exactly what the Roman numeral MDXXX indicated, I looked it up and found that it was the year of the initial reading of the foundational confession of the Lutheran Church at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 — The Augsburg Confession.  — This follows my blog of Dr. Koontz and the subject of his video. The congregation that he now serves is in Denver, Colorado ("Can there any good thing come out of… Denver?") and they have demonstrated themselves to be truly Lutheran with their designation as a church of the U. A. C., on their podium as well as on their street sign.  May they teach why the word "Unaltered" is so important, and why Bente's "biased" strong defense of it was necessary.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Reinhold Pieper's book on preaching: Adam Koontz "troubles Israel" (Another BTL book)

Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz @ lecture on "Classical Lutheran Homiletics" (YouTube)
     As previously reported, there was recently a conference held in Denver on the age of the Earth and the Bible.  The final presenter, Dr. Adam Koontz, as reported in Christian News, caught my attention for his reportingas a member of the LCMS, of the events of its history during the middle of the 20th century.  He started naming names which was refreshing since very little is heard from LCMS teachers today on this. So I decided to further research Dr. Koontz and found him to be quite active, and followed by those associated with the upcoming Luther Classical College.  I was surprised to find that he had been an Associate Professor at CTS-FW, but this was only for a period of about 2 years.  It is not known why he is no longer in that position. He was installed in his current Denver congregation after leaving Ft. Wayne.  (see future post on this U.A.C. congregation)
Prof. Reinhold Pieper (from DL77, 1921, p 155)

    While at Ft. Wayne, and now in lectures in Denver, he is promoting the preaching method of the Old Missouri Synod as opposed to the new method of the LC-MS. And his model for the teaching of preaching, or "homiletics", is Prof. Reinhold Pieper, an older brother of Franz Pieper. (See my recent blog on the importance of preaching in Old Missouri.) Since discovering this, I have read and watched many of Dr. Koontz's materials on this subject — something I rarely do for any modern LC-MS teacher or preacher.  He is aware that his thesis may be controversial among the teachers and leaders of today's LCMS when he states (CTQ, vol. 85:3, July/October 2021, p. 209):
"I do not want to trouble Israel [the LC-MS], but Israel is sometimes prone to forget things about its past."
Sometimes?  Even Dr. Koontz's own research, whether on the LC-MS's teaching on the age of the Earth or on Homiletics, would suggest that almost always the LC-MS wants to forget its past, if not to criticize it. I have demonstrated this repeatedly on this blog, ad nauseam. Dr. Koontz himself gives further evidence of this in his video on the Age of the Earth where he identifies where Prof. Theodore Graebner protested against a 1951 CPH book which taught a "young Earth".
Evangelisch-Lutherische Homiletik, by Reinhold Pieper
     The CTQ essays and YouTube video lectures referencing Reinhold Pieper's book on preaching, Evangelisch-Lutherische Homiletik, reminded me of the work that I had done 3 years ago to get this book in the hands of the public, on the Internet Archive, instead of only on the restricted EBSCOhost.  Of course this book is in the German language and so I decided to finish my work of polishing the text for machine translation.  While I was working on this project, it was discovered during one of Dr. Koontz's YouTube videos that there is already an LCMS pastor in Iowa, Pastor Isaac Johnson, who is currently working on translating this into English.  After considering whether to abandon my work because of this, I decided to continue in the hopes that my machine translation, and polished German text, will aid Pastor Johnson in his professional work. Each page number is hyperlinked to the original German page image on the Internet Archive for ease of comparison.
For an overview, see the following Table of Contents:
Chapter I. Introduction 1-20
Chapter II The choice of the text 21-38
Chapter III: The study of the text and meditation on it 39-68
Chapter IV The subject 69-115
Chapter V. The disposition 116-260
Chapter VI: The Interpretation of the Dispositional Text 207-274
Chapter VII: The application of the interpreted text 275-337
Chapter VIII. The conclusion of the sermon 338-355
Chapter IX: The Style of Preaching 356-416
Chapter X. Physical Eloquence 417-455
Chapter XI: The personality of the preacher 456-474
Index 475-481
Another overview, can be had by reviewing the Index pages. Then I would suggest reading Dr. Koontz's CTQ essays here and here, and watching his 12-part lecture series on "Classical Lutheran Homiletics" beginning here, on Pieper beginning here

==>> The German text DOCX file (zipped) may be downloaded  >>  HERE  << .

A DeepL English machine translation, slightly polished, may be viewed below:

==>> Download the full 481-page DeepL machine translation (zipped) DOCX file   >> HERE  <<. 
The PDF version may be obtained on the Internet Archive  >> HERE <<.

This is one of the many books that Dr. Koontz's own LCMS was, and is, "prone to forget" (search my "BTL book" label on the right). I was glad that Dr. Koontz discovered and expounded it. May this machine translation aid in the effort to produce a professionally translated and published version. It would be a book worthy of purchasing!

Monday, August 28, 2023

"Even today" or "also today"? Korey Maas on Rome & Bible, and on Martin Luther

Dr. Korey Maas, Hillsdale College
      Dr. Korey Maas, an LC-MS theologian, is the Chairman and Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College.  He authored a helpful article "On the Sufficiency and Clarity of Scripture" in the January 2021 number of Concordia Theological Quarterly. It is an essay to help Lutherans when they have their "faith shaken if and when they encounter some fairly standard objections." Luther is consulted along with other orthodox theologians of the past.  I was quite pleased with this essay, but two statements mar this otherwise helpful essay: 
1. Rome and Holy Scripture:
      In the very paragraph that he quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this topic, he goes on to state (p. 52-53):
“…even today Rome essentially concedes that Luther was correct in understanding her position to restrict 'authentic' interpretation [of the Bible] to the papacy.”
Dr. Maas, who chooses his words carefully, chose to use the word "even": "even today".  The Cambridge Dictionary describes what "even" here means: “We use even to add emphasis or more information to a surprising or unexpected thing”. Another way of expressing Dr. Maas's statement is to say that "It is surprising that today Rome essentially concedes…her position to restrict 'authentic' interpretation to the papacy.”  But why would he be surprised that Rome still teaches that the Holy Scriptures are to be interpreted by the Pope?  The Roman Catholic Church has taught this since the Council of Trent. So why would Dr. Maas weaken his defense of Lutheran doctrine on the sufficiency of Holy Scripture in the same article that he defends it? (Could it be the high standing of Vatican II that is held within the LC-MS?)
      What Dr. Maas should have stated was “…also today Rome essentially concedes … her position to restrict 'authentic' interpretation to the papacy.” No surprise here.

2. Martin Luther:
      On the same p. 52, Dr. Maas stated: 
“Because it is well known that Luther himself often spoke in unhelpfully exaggerated and hyperbolic terms to get his points across…”
I was a bit surprised by the forcefulness of Dr. Maas's criticism of Luther.  Ostensibly he uses it to forestall charges of "Luther worship".  But let us examine this.  
      The Apostle Paul spoke of “dung” in Philippians 3:8: "[I] do count them but dung, that I may win Christ"; and Christ spoke in strong terms against the Pharisees (Matt. 3:7: “generation of vipers”), etc. to “get his point across”. More examples could be multiplied. So where does it come from Dr. Maas’s critical remark against Luther?  Is he saying Luther was unhelpful because his “point” was not valid?... or just because he spoke in what he calls “exaggerated” and “hyperbolic” terms? — Is he referring to Luther’s frequent grouping of Jews, Turks, and Papists?  If so, how would he say that this grouping is “exaggerated and hyperbolic”? Don't all of these groups deny the Holy Scriptures as the source and norm of true faith? — Is Dr. Maas saying that the Pope is not the Antichrist because that is “exaggerated” and “hyperbolic”? Many would say that Luther's assertion is "well known", "unhelpful", “exaggerated", and “hyperbolic”. — Is Dr. Maas stating this to satisfy some at Hillsdale College who object to Luther's polemical writings? Is he not raising a "fairly standard objection" that could cause Lutherans to have their "faith shaken"?
      Dr. Maas's statement could have just as easily come from a Roman Catholic theologian. Was it really necessary to use this statement to make his point about Luther's objection to Rome's teaching on the Pope's authority to interpret Scripture? A good antidote to Dr. Maas's characterization of Luther would be Walther's and Pieper's defense of Luther's polemics here. Dr. Maas’s “exaggerated and hyperbolic” characterization of Luther is unhelpful for his otherwise helpful essay… “On the Sufficiency and Clarity of Scripture”.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Walther on an erring conscience (Der Lutheraner 1872)

      When I ran across this short blurb by Walther, I wanted to read it because the subject of our conscience is widely misunderstood.  And Walther, also Luther, sets us straight on how our conscience can go wrong.  It also provides the means with which we may defend ourselves against an erring conscience, in ourselves and in others.  From Der Lutheraner, volume 29 p. 174 (August 15, 1873, No. 22) [EN], underlining is Walther's emphasis:
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Fabricated conscience.

When, in 1526, the priests of the Altenburg Abbey did not want to publish their false divine service because it would be against their “conscience”, but also “they refused to prove their conscience and conduct with Scripture, or to let themselves be instructed”, but rather declared that “they did not want to engage in Scriptural disputation, but rather to remain in their established custom, as proven by the Christian Church”, Luther wrote: “In this way they bear sufficient witness against themselves that they fabricate such consciences and use them only as a pretense. For a right good conscience does and desires nothing better than that it may hear the instruction of the Scriptures and dispute its matters with the Scriptures”. (XXI, 147 [§ 3] [St. L. 21a, 837]) — What those papal priests once did, many still do even now who want to be good Lutherans. If something is against their own will, they are quick with the pious speech that it is against their conscience. But whoever says this and yet does not want to let his conscience be told by the Word of God, shows clearly enough that he is only pretending to have a conscience. But this is a great sin, because such men pass their old Adam off as God's voice. W. [Walther]”

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      I recall in my past that I was quite guilty of a "fabricated conscience" and "only pretending to have a conscience", not realizing that my unbelief was blocking the way to a good conscience — I was not listening to God's Word.