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Monday, July 27, 2015

English Conf. 1872— Walther's 16 Theses in English (more Convention Essays)

Continuing with the publishing of new material on my Convention Essays blog post, I am republishing an earlier original English – not from the German – essay delivered by C.F.W. Walther to the very early English language Lutherans who wanted to follow these German language Lutherans who were teaching purely according to the Lutheran faith, according to the Lutheran Book of Concord.  —
But before I publish the full essay in a text box, I want to extract all 16 Theses so that they may be previewed by the reader to examine the contents.  It will be noticed that they display a remarkable similarity to other doctrinal theses by him and Pieper.  This essay has been republished by Concordia Publishing House most recently in their newest Walther's Works series – Church Fellowship.  Before that, it was published in the 1992 Essays for the Church, Vol. 1, 1857-1879 book that is out of print.  Prof. Charles Arand wrote in 1992 in his Foreword:
"All in all, these are perhaps most valuable for not only showing Walther's practice in seeking and maintaining unity, but as a helpful summary of Walther's theology." 
Highlighting is mine:
Thesis 1.
A.  The written Word of God is the only rule and standard of Faith and Life.
B.  The written Word of God is the only source of Christian knowledge.
C.  The Word of God is always to be understood literally; —not always, indeed, properly; but figuratively only for cogent reasons.
D.  The Word of God is its own interpreter. It is not to be interpreted by reason, tradition, or new revelations.
Thesis 2.
Man by nature has no free will in spiritual matters, and hence he is not able to co-operate towards his conversion.
Thesis 3.
By virtue of its personal union with the Godhead divine properties are really communicated to the human nature of Christ.
Thesis 4.
Christ has perfectly and completely reconciled the whole world unto God.
Thesis 5.
A.  By the means of grace alone, to wit, the Word and the Sacraments, the merit and benefits of Christ are really communicated to men.
B.  The Gospel is not a mere announcement of the grace of Christ, but it is also at the same time an offer of the same to all who hear, and a communication of it to all who believe.
C.  Private absolution is the Gospel directed to individual persons and an offer and donation of the remission of sins on the part of God.
D.  Absolution demands faith, and faith alone receives what is offered and given by it; neither absolution, nor any other means of grace, operates ex opere operato.
Thesis 6.
A.  Faith alone justifies and saves. This is the main article of the whole Christian religion.
B.  Faith, if it is true faith, renews a man’s heart, mind, disposition and all faculties, purifies the heart and is active in charity and good works.
Thesis 7.
Good works are only such as are commanded by God, provided they are done in faith.
Thesis 8.
A.  Baptism effects regeneration and imparts everlasting salvation to them that receive the same in faith.
B.  By sins against conscience the grace of Baptism is lost.
C.  Baptism stands immovable on the point of God, even when man falls; by repentance, therefore, he may and shall return to the same.
Thesis 9.
In the Holy Supper the true body and blood of Christ are truly present, are distributed under the bread and wine, and eaten and drank both by the worthy and unworthy communicants; by the former for the remission of sins, by the latter unto judgment.
Thesis 10.
A.  It is a part of Christian liberty to be freed from the Jewish ceremonial and political laws.
B.  By virtue of this Christian liberty a believer in the time of the New Testament is no more bound to the observance of a Sabbath.
Thesis 11.
A.  The Church, in the proper sense of the term, is the invisible totality of all true believers in Christ.
B.  The characteristic marks of the Church are pure doctrine and unadulterated sacraments.
C.  Ecclesiastical communion is to be cherished only with those who agree in all articles of faith.
Thesis 12.
A.  It is the duty of the Church to maintain church-discipline and, consequently, to excommunicate obstinate errorists or sinners.
B.  Applicants to communion must be examined ere they are admitted.
C.  Ignorant people are not to be admitted to the sacrament.
Thesis 13.
The power of the keys is not an exclusive privilege of ordained ministers, but a power of the whole believing Church that possesses the same originally and immediately.
Thesis 14.
A.  Ministers do not form a peculiar holy priestly order in opposition to laymen.
B.  The pastoral office is nothing but an office, instituted of God, of ministering unto the Church.
C.  To call preachers is a right of the congregation to whom they are to minister. Ordination is only a confirmation of this call and an apostolic ecclesiastical institution.
Thesis 15.
The doctrine according to which a glorification of the Church in a millennial reign is to be expected, is a contradiction to several articles of the Christian faith and is consequently to be rejected.
Thesis 16.
The Romish pope is the Antichrist, as prophesied in the Holy Scriptures.

A full scanned copy of the original publication, and the full text of the same, may be obtained from the original Convention Essays blog post (1872-English Lutheran Conference-Walther-Sixteen Theses.pdf). 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Missouri Theses II- English Conf w/ Walther (1884) -- for a "well grounded Lutheran congregation"

      Again while researching and expanding the download links for the Convention Essay blog post, I discovered that the Theses published and discussed in 1876 and 1877 (see last post) in the German Missouri Synod were also partially discussed in the emerging "English Lutheran Conference" – a forerunner of today's LC-MS.  But not all 28 Theses were discussed... not even the beginning Theses.  So what two Theses did the convention discuss with C.F.W. Walther providing the presention?  They were Theses IV and V (Fourth and Fifth).   These were the Theses on Luther's writings and the Doctrine of Justification... these were prioritized to be the only ones out of the 28 Theses to be discussed.  Ah!... now we have an early English translation of Walther's work.  And I want to present this in a separate blog post because here Walther speaks my language... English.
      See the preceding blog post regarding the Theses for a "well founded Lutheran congregation" for reference.   A scanned copy of this 1884 English Conference's Proceedings may be downloaded and viewed on my original Convention Essays listing post.
  • Thesis IV: In honor of the upcoming Reformation Anniversary, the discussion on "Thesis Fourth" will be most uplifting in its presentation of Martin Luther.
  • Thesis V: Beginning on page 10, "Thesis Fifth" startles Lutherans with the following statement regarding the Doctrine of Justification:
"It is generally supposed that all denominations teach alike concerning Justification by Faith. But no other than the Lutheran church teaches correctly concerning Justification in all its bearings."

May this reprint be to the glory of God and the edification of all readers... including me!  Amen.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Missouri Synod Theses- truly Lutheran congregation (in 1876)

      In researching the convention essays delivered during the lifetime of Walther and Pieper, I ran across a Der Lutheraner article publishing the following 28 Theses which struck me as sufficiently brief and yet thorough... and Lutheran.  I believe C.F.W. Walther had a hand in drafting these Theses although neither the article nor the subsequent district conventions positively identified the author.  They certainly deserve a re-publishing today as they are timeless for any congregation desiring to be truly Lutheran!

      Note of July 23, 2015: I just discovered These 4 and Theses 5 were discussted at the English Lutheran Conference of Missouri in November, 1884.  See the Convention Essays blog post for download -- 1884-English District-Theses IV, V...

Translated from Der Lutheraner, vol. 32 (1876), No. 11 (June 1), page 86 by BackToLuther July 20, 2015; basis for discussion at the Northwestern District in that year (1876), also in 1877, and 1879. C.F.W. Walther present in 1876 and 1877.
What are the characteristics of a well-founded truly Lutheran congregation, for which Lutheran preachers with their congregations therefore have to strive as their goal?
(To be submitted for this year's proceedings of our Northwestern District on July 12, and the following days.)
1. God's Word has the dominion in itself.
2. The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are also their confessions in truth.
3. It holds that the Lutheran Church is not the Church outside of which there is no salvation, but believes that God has his people everywhere; it is not schismatical.
4. It recognizes in Luther the Reformer of the Church called by God and highly regards his writings over all other human writings.
5. In it, above all, the Gospel or the doctrine of justification alone through faith prevails.
6. It has no favorite doctrine that it drives at the expense of the others, but respects each revealed doctrine in God's Word as a very precious treasure.
7. Their true members establish the certainty of their state of grace above all on the means of grace.
8. It recognizes the congregation of believers as the owner of all ecclesiastical power and therefore rejects all priestly rule and human servitude in matters of faith and conscience.
9. It sets the teaching about life.
10. It regards all arguing against God's Word, false doctrine as a dangerous soul poison.
11. It accepts  only those among its members which are by their confession one with her faith and from those they can by love accordingly assume that they are devout Christians.
12. It guards against all mingling of religions, as a thing that is against God.
13. It believes from the heart in the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion, and therefore seeks to prevent anyone to enjoy Communion with her by their own judgment.
14. It practices church discipline ordered by God on its members in doctrine and life, but in an evangelical manner.
15. They present their children for baptism and care for them, as faithful children of God entrusted to her.
16. It proves to be a caring spiritual mother of her adolescent youth.
17. It holds high and holy the offices of householder, ministry, and government as God's foundations and regulations.
18. It insists firmly on its Christian freedom.
19. It prompts before all the works of the Ten Commandments and their occupation, and discards all self-chosen works and services.
20. It provides growth in knowledge over temporary excitement of religious feeling.
21. It can not fail to testify to the truth and resist the error.
22. It rejects all equality and mingling with the world.
23. It is filled with the spirit of the mission both inside and outside the Church.
24. It uses no wrong means for its good purposes.
25. It fosters fellowship with those who are of their faith.
26. It seeks after this, that all happens decently, honestly and orderly with it, both inside and outside the divine service.
27. She holds high God's gifts also in the realm of nature and the world and is a friend of all good arts and sciences.
28. It has not a changeable mind bent on seeking innovation.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 
      The doctrinal proceedings from the 1877 Northwestern District are of great interest for it covered Theses V.: on the Doctrine of Justification.  This convention had as its guests several representatives from the Wisconsin Synod: President Bading, Prof. Adolf Hoenecke, and Pastor... Franz Pieper! ... in 1877. — The Theses were only covered as far as No. 6 in convention, but this complete list should benefit all who would be members of a Lutheran congregation, not just in name but in spirit!
[NOTE: see the next post for an English translation of the full discussion of the 2 most important Theses]