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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pastor Cascione debates "Calvinist Baptist" on Objective Justification

I just ran across a posting by Pastor Jack Cascione entitled "Lutheran vs. Reformed Baptist on Objective Justification" dated January 5, 2013.  The reason I am publishing a notice on this is because it is one of the better defenses in today's world for the true Gospel.  How my heart leaped as I read Cascione's use of wonderful Scripture passages that clearly teach the pure Gospel.  I would like to add another Bible passage to his list, but first a little background.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I was sitting in a Calvinist Baptist congregation about 20 years ago.  When the Lord re-kindled my old Christian faith, I thought the whole world was Christian.  But I knew that my strength was coming entirely from the Bible.  And so, along with re-attending the worship services of my old LC-MS congregation, I also attended services of a "conservative" Baptist congregation (with an acquaintance).  I knew this was a bit odd, but at least this conservative Baptist (GARBC) congregation held up the divine authority of Scripture... a very Lutheran doctrine.

But then while attending a Sunday evening Bible study at the Baptist church, a member was puzzled by this passage:
2 Peter 2:1 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
This passage puzzled a member because it clearly says that the Lord bought also the "false prophets" and the "false teachers".  So the member spoke up and asked the Baptist preacher about this point... and I listened intently.  I listened because the week before he seemed to say something that Christ had paid the debt for everyone.  But this week, he had brushed up on his readings of Calvin and tried to refute the clear teaching of this Bible passage.  How I was stunned...  so much for the "conservative" aspect of this Baptist group.  I could not in good conscience continue to attend this church, for I knew that my only assurance of salvation was that Christ did pay the entire debt for everyone, including Judas.

But after leaving this Baptist assembly, I turned to the Lutherans around me and their teachers and.... well, this story is too long for this blog post.  This whole blog is dedicated to what I found out.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --

I have read in other places in the past where Pastor Cascione has defended the doctrine of Objective Justification.  His defense of this doctrine is the strength of his forum LutherQuest.org.

But Pastor Cascione associates himself quite extensively with Pastor Herman Otten, editor of the newspaper Christian News.

==>> Pastor Cascione, you took quite a challenge from the Calvinist Baptist preacher when he called you a "Universalist".  Do you not realize that Pastor Herman Otten stands in the same line as this "Reformed Baptist" preacher as he too would call this doctrine of yours dangerous because it invites the dreaded error of  "universalism".  Why did Otten not correct the dying WELS Pastor Mark Bartling when he began to doubt the doctrine of Universal Justification... in his dying days?

I tell you Pastor Cascione, that the Lutherans you speak about, those "Lutherans who reject objective justification", those "Lutheran" teachers that need to be corrected, are a very long line.  Could you not admit that these "Lutheran" teachers are actually fighting against the Gospel rather than preaching it?  How hard I looked in the materials for the new Walther Theological Seminary (that your congregation supports) to find direct evidence that it teaches the dreaded "UOJ" – (Universal, Objective Justification)... but to no avail!  All the "Core Beliefs" are fine but virtually all the "conservative" splinter groups from the old Synodical Conference say the same thing.  Where is the reference in the "Core Beliefs" to the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification, to the very doctrine that you so beautifully uphold in not only this debate against a Baptist preacher, but also the very doctrine you upheld against the suspended WELS pastor?

Can you not admit that you should be concentrating all your efforts to telling all Lutherans what the true Gospel is?  Then you will truly be "Reclaiming Walther".

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Der Lutheranerplain text online

This post continues from the previous post, a continuing survey of old German Missouri Synod online resources for scanned images with good text.
Unfortunately the results of Google Books efforts on Der Lutheraner periodical fall short in two areas:
  1. only about 1/2 of volumes of first 78 volumes are available so far, and
  2. extraction of the pure text has not been as successful as the results of previous publications in my survey: St. Louis Edition – Luther's works, Lehre und Wehre, and Walther's books.  The 2 reasons for this are:
  • multi-column format like our newspapers and
  • smudged printing from the aging bound volumes.
    The earlier editions especially show these detrimental effects of the OCR'd text.  It is quite difficult to get a clean image when scanning these large pages with so much smudging, especially close to the bound edge – I know.  (I have updated my original blog post on image scans of DL to switch from my personal scans to those of Google Books where available.)

    It is a bit of a disappointment to not have clear plain text at my fingertips of the articles of Walther and the founding fathers of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  To alleviate this somewhat, Pastor Joel Baseley has made a good beginning with his translation of the first 3 years (1844-1847) of Der Lutheraner, a worthy effort.   An example of the disappointment is that it is not easy to discern the translated English in this article from July 1851, a reprint of Martin Chemnitz' Examination of the Council of Trent. on the topic "Von der Rechtfertigung der Sünden vor Gott durch den Glauben an Jesum Christum". Here is a very rough translation taken directly from Google Translate:
    Jnbalt: W elchcs of Ha n dtp uukt in Diefer teaching fine. over which the Lntheraner ftreiten with Pauiften, - For deffen befferer development and demonstration is added right from the outset. d'ate forgiveness of sins and Erneurung connected Feien, but at the same time recalls. fie that are not mixed together Follen, - ** Zuerft I must speak of those fophiftifchen trickery ttnd twist. because the underlying dispute unfere opponents. is the fichs. fchlau and lifiig fiellen into the darkness and hide. and a gehäffige Weife unfere teaching Fuchen to fehen fchlimmes in a fairly light, as if we denied namely. that the Erneurung a benefit unferes mediator. the Son of God. and ici linked to the justification. It ifi * yes of course certain. Both blessings that unferes mediator. the Son of God find. not only the Vergebuttg of sins. fondern the Erneurung. in which the sacred Geifi new believers in the virtues awakened and worketh. Because Ehriftus us through finely Leideu s not only earned forgiveness of Siinden. 
    Do you, dear reader, consider this Google translated version gibberish?  I don't.  I can pick out that it speaks about the heart of Christianity – the forgiveness of sins.  I can pick out that it speaks about our mediator, the Son of God.  And it speaks about our justification.  I believe that it was Walther himself who ordered  this crowning work of Martin Chemnitz to be reprinted in Der Lutheraner.  Of course we now have this work translated into English and published by CPH.  And thanks to J.A.O. Preus II, (CHI article) we have his book about Martin Chemnitz – The Second Martin.

    I have found that the periodical journal Lehre und Wehre contains as much or more of the pure spiritual heart of Missouri as Der Lutheraner.  And yet, I will present the results of my survey of Der Lutheraner to all the world, to testify to the fact that the true heart of Lutheranism came to America, but was published in the German language.

    Please note the following points:
    1. there are no resources in HathiTrust or Archive.org yet for DL (only Google Books)
    2. the "Plain Text" selection shows as much as 5 pages of DL  – a lot of text for each "page" of Google's display,
    3. but the plain text is somewhat garbled as the large pages were difficult to get clean scans


    One will look in vain for news stories of the history of America during the 1800's and 1900's in the pages of Der Lutheraner. Just try to find stories of the happenings of the American Civil War in the pages of Der Lutheraner... they are few and far between.  The German Lutherans were interested in the hereafter more than the affairs of this world.  It was Der Lutheraner that went out from America to all the world to show that the heart of Lutheranism was not dead, but lived.  It had traveled from Germany to America... and back again.

    God did bless America... He sent C.F.W. Walther!

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Walther's works – complete text online

    This post continues from the previous post, a survey of old German Missouri Synod online resources for scanned images with good text.  I will get to Der Lutheraner soon but below is a table of the books from C.F.W. Walther.  What I have found truly stuns me because Google Books has almost all of Walther's books in generally good "Plain Text", ready for immediate translation to English in Google Chrome.  (All text files in Archive.org are gibberish... they evidently did not make good use of the ABBYY recognition software.)
    This table scrolls down - at least 30 listings.

    I will continue this series in the next post.

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Google, not psychology or sociology, for today's church

    Are you using Google Chrome browser on a desktop PC?  Then you will be able to read the German books of Luther and Walther in English when you click the Google Books "Plain Text" button, and then click the "Translate" button that Google Chrome offers to Google Translate (see this post for diagram).  In seconds, you will see a rough English translation that is largely readable even with all its faults!

    Dr. Robert Kolb may extol the benefits of "psychology" and "sociology" for today's church.  I will extol the work of Google for they have been the vehicle by which God has answered my prayer back in the mid-1990s that I may somehow be able to read the German writings of Luther, Walther, and Franz Pieper.  Perhaps unwittingly, Google is largely that vehicle.  Dear God!... you hear my prayer of thanks as I find another old (German) Missouri Synod book available in plain text that may easily be (Google) translated into English!

    I wonder... are there any Lutherans among those working for Google Books who have been imaging the old (German) Missouri Synod books?  (You know who you are.)  Are there any Lutherans among those in Google Books who are making the extra effort (using the latest ABBYY recognition software for "frakturschrift") to provide high-quality "Plain text" so that English speaking Lutherans may read the German language of Luther... Walther... and Pieper?

    And you people with ABBYY software company in Moscow, Russia and Munich, Germany... – are there any Lutherans among you who realize that your recognition software of the Fraktur font (and other "Black letter" and "Gothic" fonts) are allowing English speaking Lutherans to more easily access the writings of Martin Luther, C.F.W. Walther, and Franz Pieper?

    Dear Manager of Google Books:
    Thank you for your work!  Please keep extending your offerings of the old (German) Missouri Synod printings from the old Concordia Publishing House, Concordia-Verlag, A. Wiebusch u. Sohn, and other printers from Germany who printed for the old (German) Missouri Synod.  You have done very well with the Lehre und Wehre series, made a good start with the Der Lutheraner series, but there are some missing books by C.F.W. Walther and hardly any by Franz Pieper.
    Also, please keep working to provide even better OCR recognition of these old German books.  Surely ABBYY software and your human verifiers will allow you to improve the recognition on the more difficult, older printings.

    Sincerely,
    BackToLuther.

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Lehre und Wehrecomplete text online

    [Dec. 3, 2014: modified to add download links for missing pages on Google Books- see below]

    As in the previous post, I am presenting a survey of all the online sources for the publishings of the old (German) Missouri Synod – especially because some are now offering text (OCR'd) from properly recognized old German fraktur font, the only font used by old Missouri.  This survey almost supercedes the previous post in January which provided links to only the scanned images.  (The old one has been updated.)

    This is especially exciting because the quality of OCR recognition on some volumes is now good enough to get immediate rough translations from Google Translate (inside Google Chrome on desktop PC) into English.  The same process as shown in the diagram in the last post works also for these.

    What does this mean?  It means that thousands of pages of the heart of old Missouri are now becoming available at our fingertips... and for English readers.  And I will be using hyperlinks to these more often as I reference the old (German) Missouri Synod in future blog posts.

    Online scans and plain text.


    Added Dec. 3, 2014:
    I have been informed of missing pages in Google Books of the following months and am providing download links for these missing months:

    • Vol. 7, 1861- August - download PDF scan ======>>   here  << ==
    • Vol. 10, 1864 - Feb., May, July - download PDF scan ==>>   here  << ==

    - - - - - - - -
    A continuation of my survey is in the next post on Walther's works.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    St. Louis Edition of Luther's (German) Writings – complete text

    Because the publishings of Luther, Walther, and Pieper were printed in the old German fraktur font, it has been extremely difficult to get the text into an electronic form for republishing in our digital/Internet age.  It appeared that even the great digitizers of the world's knowledge, Google Books, was not going to get the fraktur writings correct since all the 10 volumes of the St. Louis Edition on Archive.org have gibberish for the OCR'd text files.   But I have recently discovered 2 surprises:

    1) First surprise: I discovered that HathiTrust has already provided almost all the OCR'd text of all but 2 volumes of the 25-volume series of the St. Louis Edition of Luther's works, the so-called 2nd Walch edition or W(2).  The caveats to this are:
    • HathiTrust does not provide a download link of the full text, only page-by-page text. But this allows copy-and-paste of single page text.
    • the OCR'd text on the "Plain Text" button correctly recognizes the text of old fraktur German ("black letter", "gothic"), but not Latin, Greek or Hebrew which are shown as gibberish.  The error rate on the fraktur recognition is fairly good but the text appears to not have been verified by a human.
    2) The second surprise: After poking around the confusing search methods and arrangements in Google Books, I discovered that they too have many volumes of correctly recognized OCR'd fraktur plain text!... 14 volumes (out of 25) to date.

    This is very significant because ever since the Third Reich decree to end all printing in the fraktur font in 1941, modern knowledge of older German writings were effectively cutoff.  Coupled with the drive by the new (English) LC-MS to sweep away all vestiges of the German language, the descendants of the old (German) Missouri Synod (like me) have been cut off from their heritage in the writings of Luther, Walther, and Pieper... except for some select English translations.

    So what does this mean for English language readers, readers (like me) who are so dependent on the available translations of Luther, Walther, and Pieper?   It means that almost all of Luther's works in German can now be more easily accessed for machine translation via Google Translate and other translation tools.  Of course this still requires some work:
    1. Untranslated words must be checked for occasional mis-spellings from mis-recognized letters by comparing to scanned image of the page
    2. Correcting words with errors
    3. Re-translating text
    I have previously provided complete scanned images of the St. Louis Edition here.  I am updating that post with all the research from this survey.  These scanned images will still be necessary for anyone making use of these text files due to the remaining errors (~1%) still causing some confusion.

    So now I present this table with hyperlinks for reference for online availability of the
    St. Louis Edition of Luther's Works
    or
    Dr. Martin Luthers Sämmtliche Schriften  

    St. Louis Edition
    volume
    HathiTrust Text?
    (single pgs only)
    all line breaks are soft returns –good for proofing but must manually add hard returns every paragraph!
    Google Books?
    Plain Text?
    editions:YIGSJf7E28IC 
    ---
    ---
    Archive.org
    (all txt files are gibberish)





    01
    Good

    02
    Good
    snippet; no

    03
    Fair - Good; > ~2% errors
    04
    Good
    snippet; no
    05
    Good
    snippet; no






    06
    Good
    snippet; no
    07
    no
    --- none ---
    snippet; no
    08
    Good
    snippet; no

    09
    Good
    snippet; no

    10
    Good






    11
    Fairly Good, ~1% error pg 86

    12
    Good
    13-1
    no
    --- none ---
    13-2
    Good
    no; no

    14
    Good





    15
    Fair to Good (jump 50, 100)
    snippet; no

    16
    Good
    17
    Good
    snippet; no

    18
    Good

    19
    Good





    20
    Fair - Good ( jump 50, 100)

    21a
    Good
    21b
    Good
    22
    Good

    23
    Good


    (Last updated August 2, 2014; thanks to Finn B. Andersen for assistance on work for archive.org!)
    This table will be updated with time as HathiTrust and Google Books update their holdings.
    April 17, 2014 – Addendum:  Erlanger Edition of Luther's Works -> here (HathiTrust).

    For reference on how to use Google Books and Google Translate to read the St. Louis Edition in English now, see the following diagram sequence of screenshots from Google Chrome browser with annotations (PDF image here, PNG image here):


    Please note the PDF image must be viewed in a PDF viewer that shows annotations... not all viewers do this – I noticed my Firefox viewer did not show annotations.  If in doubt, download the PNG image.

    Now we are not completely tied to the American Edition – Luther's Works and it's critical editors who more often than not do not get the spiritual message of Luther.  The editors of the St. Louis Edition, the old (German) Missouri Synod, understood Martin Luther far more than today's modern scholars.

    But what about the other publishings of Lehre und Wehre and Der Lutheraner?  Are they becoming available too?  I will begin to address these in the next post.