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Friday, December 8, 2017

Doctrine & Life — Faith & Life (Luther); “coma” of Missourians


      While browsing through early issues of Der Lutheraner, a short blurb caught my eye.  In was in the 1852 volume 8, p. 128.  I strongly suspect that it was editor Walther who chose this short quote from Luther.  The subject was dear to his heart, as it was to Martin Luther – Doctrine vs. Life.  Since the blurb did not identify the source of this quote, I spent some time using the Index to Luther's Works on the passage of Gal. 5:17 … and finally found it on page 56 of Volume 40.  It is contained in the item “Letter to the Princes of Saxony Concerning the Rebellious Spirit” (St. L XVII:4-17, WA 15, 210-221).  So I decided to republish this short excerpt without having to re-translate it myself.  The full German text is here.  All emphasis is mine except the enlarged text which follows the same emphasis as Der Lutheraner
They claim that we do not live as we teach, and do not have the Spirit that produces such fruits. I would allow them to make this claim, for then we could plainly discern that it is not a good spirit that speaks through them. We ourselves confess (and need no heavenly voice and lofty spirit to tell us) that we regrettably do not do everything we ought to do. In fact, St. Paul tells us in Gal. 5:17 that it will never be different, as long as flesh and spirit are on earth together, and opposed to each other. I do not perceive any particular fruit of the Allstedtian [Anabaptists] spirit, except that he wants to do violence and destroy wood and stone. Love, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, have been very little in evidence so far. It doesn’t want its fruits to be that common. By the grace of God I can, however, point to much fruit of the Spirit on our part. If it is a question of boasting, I, the least and most sinful person, am willing to set myself alone over against all the fruits of all the spirits of Allstedt, no matter how greatly he [Münzer] criticizes my life. It is not a fruit of the Spirit to criticize a doctrine by the imperfect life of the teacher. For the Holy Spirit criticizes false doctrine while bearing with those who are weak in faith and life, as Paul teaches in Rom. 14:1 ff. and 15:1 and everywhere else.Martin Luther 
— — — — — — — — — — — —
J. P. Koehler

      How does this quote have application for today?  When Prof. J. P. Koehler was deposed from his professorship in the Wisconsin Synod in 1930, there was a faction that followed him.  Their chief publication was given the title Faith-Life: the periodical of the Protest'ant Conference.  Inadvertently this title exposed their error for they tended to focus on what was wrong with the "life" rather than to maintain and defend the pure doctrine.  This is mirrored by Koehler's own attempt to promote the discipline of “exegesis” at the expense of “dogmatics”, which teaches the doctrines of the Bible.  One might wonder that this would not apply to today's Wisconsin Synod, but that would be a mistake, for almost everywhere one turns to among teachers and leaders in today's WELS, with a few notable exceptions, one finds praise for J.P. Koehler, not Adolf Hoenecke, its father in the faith.
      And how did Koehler characterize the "Missourians" who faithfully defended the Bible's doctrines through their adherence to pure doctrine, while he endeavored to use "politics in the church" to create dissension?  He said (History of the Wisconsin Synod,  p. 219):
“…the Missourians… coma of orthodox infallibility”. 
Koehler's “coma” comment was like the “theological diapers” slur that the Ohio Synod's Matthias Loy hurled against Franz Pieper. — Yes, followers of this blog are subjecting their minds to being "comatose", as Koehler claimed.  But Luther says:
“…the Holy Spirit criticizes false doctrine while bearing with those who are weak in faith and life.”
No one in the church was more tolerant of a weak faith, a weak life, than Martin Luther.  And no one was greater at criticizing false doctrine in the church than Martin Luther and... the old (German) Missouri Synod.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

“Newspaper pestilence” (Walther) - Part 2 of 2

      This concludes from Part 1, a short essay by C.F.W. Walther on worldly (or secular) newspapers.  Walther continues to plead with Christians to avoid holding to the opinions of the godless newspapermen.  But then he introduces perhaps the reason for this essay – a newspaper truly for Christians?  Could it be?
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Something on reading worldly newspapers.
[By C.F.W. Walther]
(continued from Part 1)

It is therefore impossible to calculate the damage that such newspapers cause in the hearts of readers. The Christian readers, of course, initially resent the content very much and reject the verdicts of their paper, which contravened God's Word, with all seriousness. But at last they, too, get used to the fact that persons and events are not judged according to God's Word but according to the atheistic principles of this last world. The result is that, in the first place, they no longer resist it and become indifferent to it, until finally the anti-biblical and anti-Christian views of the spirit are shared by these Christian readers as well [page 139, col. 3] and, without their suspecting it themselves, all Christian judgment with root and branch is eradicated from their mind.
There is no question that so many Christians are going back now, having run fine for a long time, but now so many stop being a light of the world and a salt of the earth; yes, that now whole congregations are becoming less and less sensitive to God's Word, and the spirit of the world is moving in and invading them with irresistible force, like a flood, — of which one of the main causes is the reading of pages that unbelievers and half-believers edit. Especially in the larger cities, where daily newspapers appear, many thousands devour their papers in the first hours of the morning, instead of the morning blessing, and that is their spiritual food for the whole day.
As long as there were only such papers in many areas, devout pastors could do little with their zeal against this true newspaper pestilence. There it was always thrown at them, "Without newspapers, we can not survive at this time and in this country. If we do not have good ones, we must probably, albeit reluctantly, keep and read the bad ones." What were faithful church servants to do there? They had to let it happen with bitter sighing that the satanic press drove its devil’s mission in their congregations, and had to be glad when they found a few who would rather read nothing than godless stuff.

This sad time is, God be praised! over. For a long time now, better-minded writers have undertaken to publish a political newspaper that Christians can read without offense. However cordial we have been to every enterprises of this kind, it is a very special pleasure for us to be able to report to our readers that the editor of the “Abendschule” [“Evening School”], Mr. Louis Lange, has decided to include, besides the “Abendschule”, a weekly political newspaper under the name “The Rundschau” [“The Review”].  This newspaper has already been through a full year.  But until now this newspaper has been so small that it cannot satisfy many who have the need for a political paper, and therefore could not achieve its purpose of at last dispelling altogether the body-and-soul-destroying, disbelieving newspaper literature from our families.  But since September 1 of this year “Die Rundschau” appears in a mighty large newspaper format and not only brings everything worth knowing from the events of today at home and abroad, but also discusses the most important issues of the political world in weekly editorials, and throughout the last page gives correspondence informing all sorts of interesting events in our dear congregations scattered all over the United States. Of course, the romance novels are not included in the “Rundschau.”  It will not serve any particular party, but will be strictly impartial in its judgment. But while it will keep away everything offensive to a Christian, one will not miss anything in it. It is true that the publication of many newspapers allegedly intended for Christians have been announced, which were welcomed with joy by faithful Christians, whose trial copy also filled with great hope, but in which the Christians soon found themselves deceived.  [page 140] Therefore, many Christians are not without reason to mistrust all the new newspapers that purport to serve Christians. But if any such paper deserves the trust of Christian readers, it is undoubtedly the new “Rundschau”. First of all, it is the same publisher as that of the “Abendschule”, an entertaining magazine, which for a number of years as a periodical for Christians proves itself in an excellent way like no other of its kind, such as friend and foe must confess.  And then the editors specially employed for the “Rundschau”, Mr. E. W. Kähler and Mr. Dr. H. Dümling, so reliable guarantors that the "Rundschau", will keep what it promises in the most conscientious manner as one might wish. Also a regular contributor, who will provide among other things, an overview of the most important events of the past week has been won for the paper, who is just as capable in this as in matters of the heart, to increase the value of this newspaper by dignified articles.
Our Christians, who only hold and read weekly papers, or only need the weekly, have now every reason to keep away from even further and not read bad newspapers. We do not see how these can unite a Christian with his conscience after the publication of the “Rundschau”. Thus the “Rundschau” is urgently recommended to all Christians.    W.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Steven Rowan
      Historians have chronicled the influence of the 48'ers, or the German radicals in America through their newspapers.  Dr. Steven Rowan (UMSL, CV) appears to be the best authority in the world on these men and their newspapers.  But they matter little to Christians except as adversaries as they fought directly against… C.F.W. Walther and his "Old Lutherans", as Walther fought to protect Christians in their reading habits from the opinions of unbelieving editors.  Dr. Rowan, who according to his CV has been an instructor for Concordia Seminary a number of years (see also here, Paleography Institute), said this in a preface to his book Germans for a Free Missouri:
“The concentration by American historians on English to the exclusion of all the other languages historically spoken and written in North America both destroys our usable past and impoverishes our present.”
Well said, Dr. Rowan!  Would to God there were more Lutherans who could read and translate the wealth of old (German) Missouri Synod writings!  America is indeed an impoverished nation in this regard. — But…
Could it be that when Dr. Rowan spoke to the Seminary students, he taught them what he stated in the preface of another book of his (p. 18):
“…the Old Lutherans were a small and relatively isolated sect
… and so "Old Lutherans" like me have to warn Christians against not only his opinions of the Lutheran "sect", but also against today's Concordia Seminary and the LC-MS?
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      Today, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get the news without being bombarded (hammered!) constantly against one’s Christian faith.  As I was falling away from my Christian faith 40-50 years ago, I did not seem to care what I read.  Later, I felt reading the Wall Street Journal at least gave me news less antagonistic to Christianity.  At least when it reports of business matters, it isn’t attacking Christianity, is it?  But it too was no friend of the true faith.  And my Christian faith was dead anyway. — Where are the truly Christian, truly Christian newspapers now, like the “Rundshau” that Walther recommended to the lay readers in 1881?  Almost all so-called Christian publications today have a Reformed (Pentecostal, Baptist, liberal, etc.) origin. Certainly Pastor Hermann Otten attempted to file this gap initially with his weekly Lutheran News [1962-1967], now named to Christian News since 1968 (website).  —  Today most now think of the Internet to find their news, but the story is the same, only raised to the "Google power".
      One thing is clear from Walther’s piece – to read the “godless newspapers” (or godless “media” today) and to hold to them is to invite complete disaster for one’s Christian faith… to say nothing of turning on the TV and watching anything, whether “over the air” or over cable/satellite.
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      This short essay is intended as an introduction for planned future blogs on old (German) Missouri Synod Church History.  A lot of people think they know the history of its beginnings (not the LC-MS), but it seems even the best of them were confused.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

“godless newspapers”; Walther recommends… (1 of 2)

      In one of C.F.W. Walther's sermons published in the book Epistle Sermons ("Day of National Penitence", p. 515), he spoke of the "godless newspapers".  Here is the quote (again) from page 515 (emphasis mine):
“Christians daily receive their wisdom from the godless newspapers of sly, political opportunists who forget God, who despise all sworn treaties, and who trample under foot all the laws of God and man. It is terrible to say it, but all such newspapers have even become the Gospel of many Christians upon which they swear, and he who has a different opinion is as far as they are concerned a political heretic, a traitor”
I never forgot that statement by Walther.  It speaks to the heart of a Christian today, here and now.  So when I ran across an article by Walther in the 1881 issue of Der Lutheraner on this subject, I had to translate it.  What would he say about the newspapers in his day?  Were they really as bad then as they are today?

Der Lutheraner, vol. 37 (1881)p. 139-140: "Etwas über das Lesen weltlicher Zeitungen."; German text file here. Translation by BackToLuther, highlighting is mine.

Something on reading worldly newspapers.
[By C.F.W. Walther]
Just having and reading a worldly (or secular) newspaper can not be made to be a sin for a Christian if only he does it with the right intention. If a Christian learns from the newspapers how things are going on in the world, what is good and what is bad, it can serve partly as an encouragement, partly as a warning. Many businessmen can scarcely miss a newspaper for the sake of their business.  And especially in a free country, such as our United States of North America, where the citizen has to take part in the elections of civil servants, among other things can hardly be fulfilled if he can not learn from political papers about the state of affairs, about the principles followed by the various parties and about the persons to be elected.
Unfortunately, most of the secular newspapers, and especially the German ones, are not only not as they should be, but are also filled with much poison for the soul. After all, the editors, with very few exceptions, are fierce enemies of the Christian, yes, of all religion. Or they are even unbelievers who consider the true Christian religion to be a fable and, at most, would know only something about a supreme being and pagan morality.
Therefore, the vast majority of secular newspapers fall into the following two classes:
  1. Some make it a business to mock everything sacred. Wherever they find an opportunity, they pour the most venomous scorn and mockery over religion and the church [p. 139, col. 2] and present all devout Christians as despicable hypocrites.
  2. Other newspapers edited by unbelievers may take some consideration of their Christian readers and speak of Christians as respectable people, and of Christianity as a religion that is not entirely despicable.  But let it be remembered only too clearly that they regard Christ, though highly wise and virtuous, as a mere man, and Holy Scripture, albeit very good, as  merely a human book.
If, therefore, these newspapers in the  second class do not contain blatant blasphemies about the blessed secrets of our most holy Christian religion, nevertheless there are enough essays in which the living God, creator, preserver and ruler of all things is denied, and either the world has been around forever, or
it is at least asserted that the world did not exist, as the Bible says, since not quite six thousand years ago, but for an inconceivable number of thousands of years.  All the new wisdom about the world and humanity which contends against Scripture is praised in these newspapers. And the progress of our time is highly praised, even with the aim against the religious views. If in such newspapers there are not, as in the others, gross maladies, then usually a wretched, sensually charming novel is also added to them. Incidentally, unbelieving editors are not able to write a newspaper that is unobjectionable to Christians even if they wanted to.  Without knowing it, they bring articles that are most annoying to Christians.
We have just read in the local Anzeiger des Westens [“Gazette of the West”] which has hitherto belonged to the more decent newspapers  of the unbelievers [Heinrich Börnstein, Carl Dänzer], a very nefarious article, taken from the "Illinois Staatszeitung", on the Hearing of Prayer.  The word of Scripture also applies to the unbelievers: “For of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” [Matt. 12:34]  And: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” Matt. 7:18]  But as far as both classes of newspapers are concerned, they both endeavor to entertain their readers through a mass of phantasms of ill-fated fraud, thieving, murder, suicide, and lust feeding acts of seduction.  In the newspapers of both classes, biblical words are abused from time to time in the most shameful jokes, and not infrequently the worst crimes are reported with laughter provoking remarks. According to the newspaper or the political party served, the most worthless characters and most ungodly portions of its own party are excused, and often given highest praise, while the best men and the best endeavors of the other party are slandered and disfigured with the most libelous drivel  and dirt.  Of course, the right judgment of the most important news  events is out of the question. What condemns God's Word is justified, and what the Word of God praises is condemned.
= = = = = = =   concluded in Part 2   = = = = = = = = 

      This essay is a great lamentation by Walther over the "godless newspapers"!  How his heart ached to see his people read such faith-destroying content. —  What?  Why are we smiling?  Oh, we can see that it is just so today… as it was in Walther's day, in St. Louis, Missouri, the heartland of America.  In the next Part 2, Walther concludes his essay announcing a most welcome addition to the offering of newspapers, surprisingly welcome for C.F.W. Walther – The American Luther.  What?… a newspaper that could actually help Christians?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

News and notes…

Several items are worth noting at this time:

(1) CPH has finally announced the next publication in their "Walther's Works" series:
Release Schedule
PredestinationFall 2018
So this will be the continuation of what Paul McCain explained earlier that:
... we are presently engaged in releasing a new set of Walther's works, pulling together all the previously different formats, shapes, sizes, into a consistent set of books. "Essays for the Churchwill be included in this new series


I was glad to see that they had finally announced another book in this series.  I was wondering that, because "Walther isn't popular right now", they might have abandoned this series.  I suspect that they will only be republishing old material.  After coming out with Walther's Pastoral Theology book, I hope that they will keep someone (Tiews, Baseley, ?) assigned to do more Walther translation work. There is a lot of untranslated Walther material...   Of course, keep checking this blog for any other translation work being done of "old Missouri", including Walther.

(2)  I was informed of another blog, Lutheran Orthodoxy by Robert C. Baker, that aims to defend the true faith.  Of particular note is the following quote from his blog post "Putting Baier-Walther back into Walther’s Law and Gospel" of October 13, 2017:
“…in composing his lectures on Law and Gospel, Walther did not pull something out of thin air. Rather, Walther did what he was want to do: he engaged with and employed in a practical way what he had read from the Bible, the Confessions, Luther and the Orthodox Lutheran fathers.”
Wow!  Baker's work to draw out Walther's teaching in his Baier (Walther) Compendium is most refreshing.  I would invite the reader to review his full blog post to find out exactly what he is defending against. —  Here is hoping that Mr. Baker continues his work on one of the greatest theological works in the last 200 years, and using it for a true defense (Wehre) of the Lutheran/Christian faith.

Walther Theological Seminary
(3) Walther Theological Seminary, Decatur, Illinois, published an outrageous statement last year in their 2016-2017 Academic Catalog (p. 2).  I am late in publicizing this:
Franz Pieper's 3-volume series Christian Dogmatics, with Index vol. 4
In their newer 2017-2017 Catalog, they rightfully moved on to highlight the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  But their use of Pieper's Dogmatics (!!!) confirms their right to claim themselves as a Church of the Reformation.  I still marvel at their use of three exclamation points!!! (see also this post)

(4) Pastor Joel Baseley (Mark V Publications) reports the following:
“I have finished issuing newsletters for translations of Der Lutheraner, having completed year 4 in 2015. So thank you for your interest. I will eventually clean up the fourth year into a final translation and publish it, adding it to the Mark V Publications catalog…”
He then provides a link for a free download of Volume 4 (1847-8).  I take from his wording that he has ended his translation work on the Der Lutheraner journal, concluding with Volume 4.  A quick survey seems to show that (alas!) Pastor Baseley has also ended his incredible work as translator for his Mark V Publications.
===>>> Pastor Baseley, your work never ceases to amaze me!  Your work is like a shooting star in the heavens... your work provides a watering hole for a parched Christianity in desperate need of true, pure doctrine, pure sermons.  The descendants of "Walther's Church" today (like me) are cutoff from their heritage, except that your work has opened up so much of it, and so freely.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Prof. Charles Arand: “Paul speaks plainly” (Pt 2b against Concordia Journal 2017)

      This concludes from Part 2a (and Part 1), a defense against the errors and mixed theology in Concordia Seminary's magazine, Concordia Journal, Summer 2017 issue.  In this last segment, I call out Prof. Arand on the very Bible passage where he attempts to show his “orthodoxy”.
Prof. Charles Arand
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      Although Prof. Charles Arand seems to give at least lip-service to an “inspired and inerrant scriptures” in one place, he does not defend their truthfulness in all matters.  Here is how he puts it (p. 23):
“This word of the cross, along with the inspired and inerrant scriptures, belongs to the epistemology of faith . . . not to empiricism or rationalism.”
“Along with”?  What does he mean by “along with”?  Why the separation, the distinction, of the “word of the cross" and “the inspired and inerrant scriptures”?  Isn't Arand just giving “lip-service” to the Doctrine of Inspiration, Brief Statement, § 1.-3.? (Isaiah 29:13)
      Arand earlier begins his theological section with the following (p. 19):
... At the heart of our faith lies the confession of God’s love for us as manifested in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In one of the earliest Christian letters, Paul speaks plainly, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).
We can thank God, maybe not Arand, that a Scripture passage (1 Cor 15:3-4) was quoted where Scripture interprets Scripture… twice:
“… in accordance with the Scriptures, … in accordance with the Scriptures”.
"In accordance with the Scriptures”.
Yes indeed, Prof. Arand, the Apostle Paul “speaks plainly”.  I am thankful, not for your attempts to cloud and overturn the truth, but at least that a Bible passage is quoted that clearly and completely refutes the primary points of your Concordia Journal, your Concordia Seminary, your Lutheran Church—“Missouri Synod”:

I believe, “in accordance with the Scriptures”,
that the universe was created in 6 days. (Genesis 1)
I believe, “in accordance with the Scriptures”,
that “the sun stood still”. (Joshua 10:13)
I believe, “in accordance with the Scriptures”,
that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)
I believe, “in accordance with the Scriptures”,
that Christ was raised on the third day (1 Cor 15:4)

If any one of the above points is not true, then, as C.F.W. Walther says, I "certainly would not care to be a Bible Christian." [Lehre und Wehre, Foreword 1886]

I also believe, “in accordance with the Scriptures”, that the LC-MS is
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Ephesians 4:14.
Indeed, “Paul speaks plainly”.  —  I confess:
I did not leave the LC-MS over the error of Copernicanism, 
I left it over their loss of the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Our teachers think they know the Gospel.

But all Christians know the Gospel “in accordance with the Scriptures”.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lutheran Church teaches… what? (Part 2a, on Concordia Journal 2017)

      This continues from Part 1, a defense against the assertions and theology promoted in the Summer 2017 issue of Concordia Journal magazine on science and theology.  In Part 1, I addressed a point of science.  In this post, I want to address a point of theology – the Doctrine of Justification.
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      After defending against the science aspect, it would be misleading to suggest that the Journal does not address theology.  But what about the “article with which the Church stands and falls”, the Doctrine of Justification?  I want the reader to compare the theological teaching promoted in the Concordia Journal with what the true Missouri Synod taught by its founder and his successor.  Then let the reader judge.  And what better source of information can there be than what was “reprinted” by Concordia Seminary's own website ConcordiaTheology.org in 2011 to “celebrate” Walther?  Below are side-by-side excerpts:
Profs. Charles Arand
Joel Okamoto
(Concordia Journal, Summer 2017)
C.F.W. Walther
Franz Pieper
Walther-Pieper composite (from ConcordiaTheology.org Oct 17, 2011).jpg
Arand, p. 18:
I will argue that we begin by working out from the center of our faith. We get our bearings by re-centering ourselves in that which makes us Christians. And that means that we begin where we find Jesus, namely, “in crib and cross—and in the crypt he left behind.” For that reason, I propose Luther’s theology of the cross as a way of helping our people— and ourselves—to think through issues of faith and science.
A View from the Cross
Luther first formulated his theology of the cross in a series of theses that he penned in 1518 as an account of his theology as requested by his Augustinian superiors in Heidelberg. Less than a year earlier, he had posted his ninety-five theses for debate on the question of indulgences. Now Luther sets forth a series of theses on the issue of justification. He does not deal with that topic in isolation, instead, he sees that the position one takes on justification is indicative of a larger methodological approach to all of theology.
In these theses, Luther identifies two approaches to theology, a theology of the cross versus a theology of [human] glory. Luther contrasts a scholastic theology (shaped by philosophy) that glories in human abilities and capacities with a theology of the cross that trusts the crucified and risen Lord. “Luther believed that the best view of all reality was to be had from the foot of the cross on Calvary. The death and resurrection of Christ parted the clouds, and he could see God and himself clearly.” Together, they “disclose in the most decisive way possible what it means for God to be God and what it means for us to be humans.”
The theology of the cross thus provided a way of thinking and a method of practicing theology that Luther continued to draw on for different situations and purposes throughout his life. Indeed, for Luther, “theology is always hermeneutical, an interpretation of God’s dealings in the world by individuals from within the world.” Robert Kolb notes that a theologian of the cross thus “employs the cross of Christ as the focal point and fulcrum for understanding and presenting a wide range of specific topics within the biblical message.”


Okamoto, pp. 54-55:
… In other words, Christian theology must be cosmological. All other topics—sin and grace, incarnation and salvation, justification and sanctification— should be derived from and discussed in this context, rather than be set alongside or above God and his creation.
In an important sense, there is nothing new about doing this. It is simply letting “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” stand. It is following through in theological method on the first article of the Creed: I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. It is taking seriously that Christ was sent to announce and to establish the reign of God over creation. It is looking for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. But it is also no longer letting God as Creator and his creation lie in the background or at the margins for theology in favor of an agenda set by certain occasional intramural questions. Instead, theology makes God creating all things the starting point for all reflection. What kind of person is God? The Creator. What is a human being? A creature of God the Creator. What is sin? Not acknowledging God and his rights as Creator. Why is justification by grace? Because God the Creator gets to justify as he pleases. What does it mean to believe in God? To freely let him be the Creator. And so on.
The point is not to teach something different, but rather to teach differently. All theology is occasional in the sense that it arises out of particular occasions. For example, the doctrine of justification as articulated in the Lutheran Confessions arose to deal with questions and confusions raised by medieval teaching and practice over the righteousness of sinners. Roman Catholic theology was not uniform, but it did uniformly maintain that righteousness before God was proper, that is, one’s own. Evangelical theologians maintained that this righteousness was entirely alien, God’s own. And it was this distinction that informed how the Lutheran Confessions formulated their doctrine of justification. As just noted, the “God and his creation” perspective on justification only reinforces that righteousness before God is entirely alien. Nothing changes in the article itself. But how and why it is stated does. Nothing different is taught, but it is taught differently.

When we try to depict Dr. Walther as theologian, we must, above all, discuss his doctrine of justification, for his attitude toward this doctrine supplies the clue to his whole line of action in his life so full of controversy.
Walther recognized the doctrine of justification, or the doctrine that a sinner is justified before God and saved by grace through faith in Christ, as the focal point of all Christian doctrines. All other doctrines serve this doctrine as premises, or they flow from it as conclusions. Uncompromisingly Walther attacked all errors, because he knew that by all of them this central doctrine was endangered.… In our theological seminary he showed his students, above all, how to preach this doctrine rightly, pointing out to them both the right way and in graphic description also the usual aberrations. We believe that it is not saying too much when we declare that after Luther and Chemnitz no other teacher of our church has attested the doctrine of justification so impressively as did Walther. It was particularly in this doctrine that he followed Luther, and he united into one shining beam of light all other bright rays on this doctrine radiating from our later dogmaticians.
According to Walther, the doctrine of justification is the characteristic mark of the Christian religion, by which it distinguishes itself from all other so-called religions. He writes:
When we speak of justification, we speak of the Christian religion, for the doctrine of the Christian religion is none other than God’s revelation concerning the way in which sinners are justified before God and saved through the redemption made by Christ Jesus. All other religions teach other ways which are supposed to lead to heaven; only the Christian religion points out a different way to heaven by its doctrine of justification. This indeed is a way the world has never heard nor known, namely, the counsel of salvation that was hidden in the mind of God before the foundation of the world was laid. (SCR, p. 21.)
To fight for the doctrine of justification and for Holy Scripture and the Christian religion amounts to one and the same thing. Without the doctrine of justification the Christian religion is like a watch without a spring. All other doctrines lose their value if the doctrine of justification is corrupted. When the foundation gives way, the whole building caves in. When the doctrine of justification falls, then the whole Christian doctrine also collapses. In that case the church becomes a mere reform school. Furthermore, as regards the understanding of Scripture let me say: Theologians who err in regard to the doctrine of justification are sitting not in Scripture, but before a closed door, no matter how diligently they may study and quote the Bible. To those who do not understand the doctrine of justification the Bible is merely a book of moral instructions with all manner of strange side issues.
The doctrine of justification is therefore the “chief topic of Christian doctrine” (Ap. IV [(II)] 2).
It is absolutely necessary for everyone rightly to know the doctrine of justification in order that he may be saved. … This doctrine is therefore rightly called the article with which the church stands and falls.
Through the preaching of this doctrine, the Reformation of the church was effected, while all other means that had been tried before to reform the church failed. It was this doctrine which also in other lands and at other times reformed the church.
.… What indeed is all learning, no matter how important it may be in its proper place, compared with the wisdom of God? This becomes apparent already when only the passage is expounded that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,” etc. That message works joy in all penitent sinners; that is something in which the holy angels rejoice, and that is something at which the whole world should prostrate itself and cry out: “Glory, hallelujah!” … In short, let us learn from Luther that we cannot start a Reformation in this country unless we believe this doctrine of justification most firmly, preach it with divine assurance, and faithfully guard and keep it.
A living knowledge of the doctrine of justification therefore is essential to the right preparation for the pastoral ministry. …
We shall now consider some teachings which, according to Walther, are essential today if we are to preserve the doctrine of justification in its purity. Walther writes: “When considering the pure doctrine of justification, as our Lutheran Church has again set it forth on the basis of God’s Word in its full radiant brilliancy, we must keep in mind three doctrines, namely, (1) that of the general and perfect redemption of the world by Christ; (2) that of the power and the efficacy of the means of grace, and (3) that of faith. (SCR, p. 20.)” …
Should, for instance, anyone deny the universality of Christ’s redemption, negating with Calvin the Scripture truth that Christ has redeemed all mankind and that in the Gospel God seriously offers to all men His grace without any discrimination, then he subverts the doctrine of justification. If that error is maintained, then the individual sinner cannot become personally sure of his salvation …To keep the doctrine of justification pure, we must hold the
True Biblical Doctrine of the Perfect Redemption of All Men by Christ
In order to present the perfect redemption of all men by Christ in its full clarity, Walther is concerned to insist that there exists for every person grace, righteousness, and salvation even before faith is engendered, that every sinner is righteous before God, even before he believes, so far as this righteousness has been procured and God has purposed to bestow it
…Walther writes: “Also the heathen believed that they must secure grace and the forgiveness of their sins, but they have never known that forgiveness of sins has already been procured by another and that it already exists.”
Pieper:
To fight for the doctrine of justification and for Holy Scripture and the Christian religion amounts to one and the same thing.

To which pair of theologians will you trust your soul’s salvation to?

      In the left column, although the word "justification" is mentioned, it is not expanded upon.  Instead Prof. Arand immediately switches to a "theology of the cross" and uses this theme (and Robert Kolb dozens of times) to explain the heart of Christianity.  As for Prof. Okamoto, I can only say he speaks as a philosopher who can, in very few places, throw in some Lutheran sounding words… and he is easily dispensed with.
      In the right column, the focus is on the Doctrine of Justification: (1) its basis for the Christian religion, (2) its objective nature, (3) its universal nature, (4) its priority in the Lutheran Confessions as the "chief topic of Christian doctrine", (5) its proof against all heathen religions.

      Why can't today's LC-MS speak plainly about the Doctrine of Justification?  (haven't they lost it?)

      As I blogged earlier, there was a comment made on Walther's/Pieper's Doctrine of Justification by a reader of the above "reprint" on ConcordiaTheology.org.  It was by a certain Mr. Jeff Wild:
  • Jeff Wild says:
  • October 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm
  • This is a wonderful document and I look forward to the second part. For me this is the clearest description of the doctrine of justification that I have ever read.
  • For awhile now I have been considering ordering Francis Pieper’s DOGMATICS, but have been hesitant due to the cost. Would you say that this essay is characteristic of his writing? If so, it sounds like the volumes would be well worth the money.
Mr. Wild testifies indirectly against today's Concordia Seminary.  The theology of today's Concordia Seminary will not get this kind of accolade from a reader because they do not teach like the Old (German) Missouri Synod. Mr. Wild's judgment is one of the clearest public Christian testimonies on the Internet today.  If the reader finds my polemics offensive, then just read the full version of Concordia Seminary's own "reprint" of this essay, and compare Walther's teaching to those who would claim him as their founder. Better yet, read the full un-cut series “Walther as Theologian” in my blog series here.
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This post became lengthy, but I can not refrain from pointing out where Prof. Arand inadvertently quotes a Bible passage that exposes his error, his mixed theology – in Part 2b.