Search This Blog

Sunday, May 26, 2024

CM4b: Preger: Loehe & Kliefoth deny Justification (Pieper recommends Preger) (II)

      This continues from Part CM4a (Table of Contents in Part CM1) in a series defending Walther against a false portrayal by LC-MS President Matthew Harrison on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. — 
Title page of Wilhelm Preger's book (Google Books)
    To follow up the last post on Pieper's teaching, we find that he made an intriguing reference to a noted German theologian from Munich, Wilhelm Preger [].  What did Pieper say about him? We find that on the same page, fn # 5:
Preger, Die Gesch. d. L. v. geistl. Amt, 1857 (fine collection of words of Luther, pp. 170—192; criticism of the position of Loehe, p. 192 ff., of Kliefoth, p. 216 ff.)
Preger's book title translated is The History of the Doctrine of Spiritual Ministry [Office] Based on the History of the Doctrine of Justification. Pieper praises Preger's "fine collection", then mentions that Preger documents the errors of Loehe and Kliefoth in relation to… the doctrine of Justification. Now this is not just the doctrines of "Church and Ministry", but the article by which the church stands or falls. I took the time to process and translate the pages that Pieper recommends. I am making that translation available below:
(The file may be viewed directly here.)
Pres. Harrison's promoted modern German pastor-theologian Helmut Lieberg (see Part CM1bmentions Preger in his book, along with Harless (CPH 2020, pp. 91-92), as Pieper does. But while Lieberg focuses on "Church and Ministry", Preger goes deeper, to the core doctrine of Christianity. And what does he find with Harrison's favorite theologian, Wilhelm Loehe? On pp. 192-193 he offers a quote from Loehe (my translation):
"No one can forgive sin in God's name, i.e. in representation of God (in repraesentatione personae Christi, to speak with the symbols), but he who has command and authority. But God's command and authority are with his office [of ministry]." (Loehe, Church and Ministry. New Aphorisms. Erl. 1853. p. 44)
To this "wounding point", Preger comments:
According to it [Loehe's statement], the treasure of Christ is not powerful in and of itself, but only becomes so each time that a specially authorized person presents it.
That is Loehe's express teaching, yet Pres. Harrison would gloss over it with half-truths. That is against Lutheran teaching. In Preger's concluding section he states (p. 233, my emphasis):
After the greater part of this paper has given an attempt to prove the dependence of the concept of ministry and its history on the history of the doctrine of justification, it will not be wrong to ask whether Löhe's and Kliefoth's doctrines on ministry are not also based on a peculiar view of justification. There can be no question of a direct denial of the Lutheran doctrine of justification in the case of these men.
Preger "hits the nail on the head". One may read everything that has been written on "Church and Ministry", but if it does not pass this test, it is not Lutheran, not Christian. One suspects that Helmut Lieberg, who criticizes both Harless and Preger, would also be weak on the Lutheran Doctrine of Justificaton. Pieper teaches what Preger taught, not what Harrison teaches. — In the next Part CM4c we present the major essay that Pieper delivered to the 1896 Missouri Synod convention on the doctrine of Church Government.

So that search engines may be enabled to search the full content of Preger's essay, it is presented below after the break in smaller print to save space.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

CM4a: Pieper follows Walther on Church & Ministry (I); Pieper, "our greatest theologian"?

     This continues from Part CM3 (Table of Contents in Part CM1) in a series defending Walther against a false portrayal by LC-MS President Matthew Harrison on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. — One naturally asks the question in all this controversy how the teaching of Franz Pieper fits in.  Did he follow Walther in opposing Loehe and Kliefoth in their teaching on Church and Ministry?   
Dr. Franz Pieper
Without going into further details, we quote from his Christian Dogmatics, vol. 3, p. 447 (also Christliche Dogmatik 3, 511):
"… (Muenchmeyer, Loehe, Kliefoth, etc.) taught a strongly Romanizing doctrine of the ministry, namely, that the office of the public ministry is not conferred by the call of the congregation as the original possessor of all spiritual power, but is a divine institution in the sense that it was transmitted immediately from the Apostles to their pupils, considered as a separate “ministerial order” or caste, and that this order perpetuates itself by means of the ordination."
That is exactly how C. F. W. Walther taught, especially in his "Antitheses". 
      Is it not disingenuous of Pres. Harrison to say of Pieper that he is "our greatest LCMS theologian who is still studied at our seminaries today" when Pieper teaches against his LC-MS "co-founder" Wilhelm Loehe? — That is not all of what Pieper had to say, and we highlight another reference he gave on the same page that documented the even more serious weaknesses of both Loehe and Kliefoth, in the next Part CM4b.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

CM3: Walther's Antitheses (against Loehe & Harrison) to Church and Ministry

      This continues from Part CM2 (Table of Contents in Part CM1) in a series defending Walther against a false portrayal by LC-MS President Matthew Harrison on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. — While studying Pieper's great essay "C. F. W. Walther as Theologian" in Part CM2, I found him referring to an essay in Lehre und Wehre authored by Walther that outlined his "Antitheses" to his Theses in his book Church and Ministry. These were printed in the Lehre und Wehre, vol. 16 (1870), pp. 161-187 [EN]. If one wants to better understand Walther's motive for writing and publishing his book Church and Ministry, then read his own "Antitheses" to learn who and what he is defending against in this book. It is not just Pastor Grabau in America, but also, just as importantly, it was meant to correct several theologians in Germany, except Harless. Walther tells us exactly why in a footnote:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
   *) These antitheses have been requested by dear fellow believers and confessors in Germany, partly for orientation with regard to their opponents, partly because in many cases it is only from the antithesis that the punctum saliens [prominent point] and the implications of a thesis come to light. In accordance with the expressed wish of some readers of this journal, we are sharing here the collection of antitheses from writings published in Germanywhich was initially made for Germany. For those who desire American antitheses, we refer in particular to the publications of the then Synod of Buffalo and its elective cousins. A striking collection already appeared in the 9th volume of Der Lutheraner under the title: "Excellent tabular survey of some of Pastor Grabau's obvious errors, presented in his own words and compared with the false Roman, as well as with the pure Lutheran." (See No. 10 to 26.) [111213141516171819202325] [Original German pages: [1011121314151617181920232526]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Loehe — Kliefoth
    In this essay, Walther repeatedly cites Wilhelm Loehe (8 times) and Theodore Kliefoth (3 times) as German opponents in these doctrines. Today these two names are raised high among the LC-MS teachers. Pres. Matthew Harrison, while pointing out (emphases mine)
"Walther's contention that Löhe held a less than quia view of the Lutheran Confessions and that our great and beloved co-founder of the Missouri Synod [Loehe] — despite his glorious strengths — specifically and knowingly rejected Luther's view of the Office of the Ministry at key points" [Church & Office, p. xiv], 
does not praise Dr. Harless, whom Walther highly praises, but rather Wilhelm Loehe as a "co-founder of the Missouri Synod" with "his glorious strengths". Those words give a clear indication, apart from the doctrines involved, that Pres. Harrison and his LC–MS are not true followers of Walther's doctrines, but are rather Romanizing New Lutherans. Harrison expects his readers to accept his high praise of Loehe because he mentions Loehe's serious weaknesses. Harrison did the same thing with Hermann Sasse. That displays a disposition to argue by using half-truths.
      This essay is so important that I spent some time getting it properly translated and hyperlinked for ease of navigation. In the following translation, footnotes have been moved closer to their reference in the narrative. I have highlighted several passages for my own benefit that make my points. Now for the complete essay, see the following:
This may be directly viewed and downloaded here;

Most of the Romanizing theologians in Germany are cited: Vilmar, Dieckhoff, Delitzsch, Münchmeyer, Kraußold, etc. And of course the original Romanizers: The Roman Catholic Church. Walther's "Antitheses" quote the Roman Catechism 5 times, all in a negative light. Harrison quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church 7 times in his editorial comments, all in a positive light. Walther would clearly find fault with Harrison's love for the Catholic Church. It is quite incredible the lengths to which Harrison will go with his half-truths. Harrison is doing exactly what the Walkout crowd did, but there seems not to be much initiative to produce another "Walkout" turnaround.  — In the next Part CM4a

So that search engines may be enabled to search the full content of Walther's essay, it is presented below after the break in small print to save space.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

CM2: Pieper & Walther on "Church" vs. Harrison

      This continues from Part CM1c (Table of Contents in Part CM1) in a series defending Walther against a false portrayal by LC-MS President Matthew Harrison on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. — This segment moves on from Dr. Harless's testimony to the second testimony against Harrison's claim. We compare (1) Franz Pieper's reference to a writing of Walther with (2) Harrison's statements of his assertions in Church and Office. The following table presents the two side-by-side: 

LuW, Vol. 35, July, 1889, pgs 226 [DE]

McLaughlin translation

Church and Office, p. 212

Some have wanted to interpret the well-known words of the Smalcald Articles [Tr 24; Trigl. 510-511, 24]: “In addition to this, it is necessary to acknowledge that the keys belong not to the person of one particular man, but the (entire) Church”, as though here nothing were said of the “congregation” [“Gemeinde”], but only of the “Church” [“Kirche”], and indeed of the “entire Church”.  But Walther rightly remarks: “To distinguish (here) between congregation and Church is a pure invention! [reines Fündlein]”  (EN: LuW, 16: 179; DE: LuW 16, 179.) The Smalcald Articles themselves promptly define the “Church” which has all power as the local church [Ortskirche] or local congregation [Ortsgemeinde], when they go on to say” “And Christ speaks in these words, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind’, etc., and indicates to whom He has given the keys, namely, to the Church: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name’, etc.  “When the Smalcald Articles speak of the entire Church they intend to say, as the context indicates: not only this or that (member), but all members of the Church”.

The congregation elects, calls, and sends. Because the Keys belong to the "whole Church," and because many of the references that follow involve individual congregations or multiple local churches calling, I do not believe one can exclude the view that multiple congregationsthe whole Church [i.e. including the Synod!] — can act to call. In fact, Walther's own practice in the case of his St. Louis Gesammtgemeinde (a group of four congregations that acted as one in calling pastors) would confirm this reality.

We notice that Pres. Harrison, because he cannot offer direct evidence of Walther's support for his assertion, strains to then offer "Walther's own practice", essentially conceding the problematic situation he is in. Now he must essentially say that Walther did not "practice what he preached", something that would undercut his assertion that Walther supports his theology, and that of the LC–MS. Let the reader judge! — In the next Part CM3

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

CM1c: Harless's propositions (III) (w/ notes)

      This continues from Part CM1b (Table of Contents in Part CM1) in a series defending Walther against a false portrayal by LC-MS President Matthew Harrison on the doctrines of Church and Ministry. — This concludes Walther's book review of Dr. Adolf Harless's pamphlet. The following abbreviated listing is a selection chosen to highlight the main aspects of how Harless mirrors Walther's teaching. — From Der Lutheraner, vol. 10 (1854), pp. 170-172: 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Church and Ministry

by Dr. G. Chr. Adolph Harless

[Review by C. F. W. Walther, ]

There are eighteen theses. They are as follows:

… … 

dangerous ambiguity of the word Church

§ 4. If the presence of the Holy Spirit working through the Word establishes, builds and sustains the Church, then it must first of all be determined what and where the Church is, and one must not allow oneself to be misled by a dangerous ambiguity of the word Church [Kirche; Harrison charges J. T. Mueller with this "ambiguity of the word Church", but is he, Harrison, the one who should be charged? ].

§ 7. …but the real existence of the true Church also remains an article of faith,

§ 10. This presentation of the Word in faithful confession, of the Word with its binding and redeeming power, is originally and fundamentally a vocation of all Christians, of the whole holy Christian people.

§ 11. The special vocation of the ministry [Amts] in the congregation can only be properly defined if a clear distinction is made between the priestly and the ministerial vocation, and if, on the other hand, the essence of the ministry of the Word is sought in nothing other than that which also belongs to every believing Christian by virtue of his priestly vocation. [Harless teaches against sacerdotalism, causing Pres. Harrison to lump him with the error of Hoefling.]

§ 12. …individuals may not take it upon themselves to do this [ministry] arbitrarily in public before the congregation, but must wait for a special election or calling, just as the faithful congregation [Gemeinde] already properly considers it its duty to provide for such an election or calling. [Harrison charges Harless with an infraction of this.]

§ 14. While the believing church [Gemeinde], the Christian people, awaits the order and appoints the offices established by Christ, in doing so it is not rooted in a law of order or a rule of separation, but in a Word of promise, by virtue of which the Lord promises at all times to give His church [Gemeinde] the special gifts needed to fulfill the special offices; and the heir of this promise is not a special, legally established class, but the whole believing church [Gemeinde], which the Lord separates through the fulfillment of His promise.

but not of a special power… inherent in the office itself

§ 15. Therefore one can speak of a special authority [Vollmacht], also of a special gift of the office [Amtsbegabung], but not of a special power and grace inherent in the office itself; but where the office has and brings power and grace, it is rooted in the Word, which the office has to provide, and all the power and grace of the Word is rooted in the living Christ, who is the giver of the Word and Spirit and the founder of the office. [Harless against the sacerdotalism of Kliefoth and Loehe]

§ 17. These are the main features of the doctrine of Church and Ministry as it applies in the congregation [Gemeinde] of believers and presupposes a believing congregation or church [Gemeinde oder Kirche], a holy Christian people.

§ 18. According to the model of the order of the believing congregation, "external Christendom", the community of ecclesiastical signs or the visible church, rightly establishes its order; only that in doing so, much weakness and error, sin and shame, rioting and trouble can also occur (see thesis 8). This sorrow must not cause the faithful to separate from a church that still has a pure Word and Sacrament, but must remain there, fighting and contending until the Lord gives victory to the church.

* * * * * *

These are Harless's theses. It may be that these theses give rise to some unanswered questions. We must therefore refer again to the enclosed testimonies from Luther's writings, in which further elaboration is to be found, and after attentive comparison of which the reader will hardly be left without an answer to a question which directly concerns the matter.

- - - - - - - - - - - -  Series continues in Part CM2  - - - - - - - - - - - -

Going back to my original question then, "What was Walther's opinion of Harless?", we see that he apparently was in full agreement with him.  But Harrison now wants to claim Walther for his theology, while he also condemns Harless?? Either he is in error on what Harless actually taught, or what seems more likely, 
President Matthew Harrison is not actually in agreement with Walther.
OLC Prof. Wallace H. McLaughlin
Walther said so. — OLC Prof. Wallace H. McLaughlin said it well 77 years ago in The Orthodox Lutheran, Jan. 1953 (53-1), p. 39:

In connection with the Missouri Synod centennial five years ago [1947; now 77 years ago] there was a trace of hero-worship in some quarters in speaking of Johannes Konrad Wilhelm Loehe (1808-1872). One heard the complaint that he had previously been “the forgotten man” in Missouri Synod history, but must now come into his own as the great sponsor of confessional Lutheranism in America

Now we are by no means unaware of the historical significance of this great man for the confessional Lutheran awakening in Nineteenth Century Germany, nor do we minimize the great services in the early history of the Missouri Synod rendered by many of those whom he was instrumental in sending to America; neither do we find any lack of an objective evaluation of these factors on the part of our spiritual fathers in earlier generations of the old Missouri Synod. But his decidedly hierarchical view of the ministerial office (cf. a very competent treatment of this point in the current December Confessional Lutheran [1952 p. 137]) and his later weakening of the obligation of confessional subscription and chiliastic aberrations also belong to an objective evaluation of his significance. In the matters at issue between Wilhelm Loehe and Dr. Walther we consciously stand with Dr. Walther and against Pastor Loehe, as Walther and not Loehe was standing with Scripture

It is striking how McLaughlin's description of the free-falling LC-MS of 77 years ago matches the situation of the LC–MS todayLoehe over Walther.  
      I am still attempting to obtain a physical copy of Harless's book. When that happens it will be scanned and made available to the public and I will amend this post to notify readers. I will probably also devote a new blog post to announce this. — In the next Part CM2, we compare statements of Pieper and Walther directly with that of President Harrison.
- - - - - - - - 
The full translated text of all of Harless's18 Theses follow below after the break:
- - - - - - - - - - - - -