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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

World wide furor over Pastor Knak's confession; Copernicanism Part 10a

      This continues from Part 9, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
Pastor Gustav Knak
(Kulturportal West Ost)
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      Franz Pieper stated in his Christliche Dogmatik that the "Lisco-Knak Affair" (1868) was "the affair which provoked great excitement in America at that time". I have already published (see this blog post) the German Gartenlaube magazine's first round of publicity given the Lisco-Knak Affair in 1868.  And Pieper had cited the Missouri Synod's journal Lehre und Wehre from October 1868 which reported statements of other German theologians in relation to Knak's confession (Twesten, Müller, and Ströbel). 

E.W. Hengstenberg
      And what about other so-called "Orthodox" among Knak's countrymen in Germany?  If they were so "orthodox", did they not support him in his belief in the natural history of the Bible? ... It seems not, for E.W. Hengstenberg, the editor of the Evangelische Kirchen-Zeitung (EKZ), a so-called orthodox theologian who "opposed rationalism, unionism, and mediating theology", is reported to have taught the following from the June 10 & June 17, 1868 EKZ issues (my translation from the Germanhighlighting is mine):
"In the storm of indignation that arose in all circles against this 'denial of the Copernican solar system', E.W. Hengstenberg distanced himself from the literal understanding of the Joshua passage ... since it was only a poetic report." (Evangelische Kirchen-Zeitung 1868, June 10, p. 553-558. June 17 p. 577-584).

Werner Elert
This summary comes from Werner Elert in his 1921 book Der Kampf um das Christentum, pgs 230-231.  And how did this well-known theologian Elert comment for himself on the Lutheranism of 1868 and on Pastor Knak's confession? (my translation from the German, highlighting is mine):
      “After all, it must be recognized that at this time in a gradual striving, it was desirable to excite not only the pleasure of natural sciences, but also another, the way of faith toward God who created the world, to keep seekers free from obstacles that could cause them to stumble.   Only missing was [Page 231] an attempt thereby to make these obstacles passable by agreeing with natural science on its validity, — instead of explaining those accounts of temporal forms [i.e. natural science, etc.] in the Bible as eternal content for which no science can explain.  Where it could lead, when one raises instead of the content revealing God, the value and truth of the temporal form [i.e. natural science], was displayed in a garish light in the dispute over the word of Joshua: “Sun, stand still!”  At the Berlin District Synod of 1867 [sic - 1868] Pastor Gustav Knak, to the question whether he believed with the Bible that the earth stood fixed and is encircled by the sun, declared: "Yes, I believe it, I know of no other worldview than that of the Holy Scriptures" (Wangemann, 359 ff.).  …   But Knak also found his defenders. This of course allowed no more synthesis with natural science. But the opinion to which Knak committed himself also had nothing specifically Christian in itself.  It could just as well be represented by a pagan Chinese.  One cannot find that by such an isolation of individual Christians in an affair, which has no necessary relationship to Christianity, would prove to be a service to Christianity.”
So Werner Elert is in agreement with Hengstenberg and says Knak's confession disallowed "more synthesis with natural science...[and] is no more Christian than that of a 'pagan Chinese'... [and] has no necessary relationship to Christianity".  In other words, to confess the truth of the Bible can also be confessed by a "pagan Chinese".  LCMS historians have largely praised Elert, saying:
"His theology is oriented in the evangelical thought of Luther and in the dialectic of Law and Gospel. Though Lutheran and confessional ..., he was in constant dialog with his age and emphasized the task of theology and the church in the contemporary world. He based his findings on thorough Biblical and historical research."
It seems the LCMS historians in 1975 had already found ways to use "historical research" and "dialog with their age" to deny the natural history of the Bible... all in the name of "removing obstacles to faith in God".  By the way, the 1927 Concordia Cyclopedia (page 317) called Hengstenberg "a moderate rationalist".  The 1975 Christian Cyclopedia omitted this phrase.  Hmmm... isn't Hengstenberg's theology the same as what the opponents of the old (German) Missouri Synod taught?  Is it not fair to call the teachers in today's LCMS "moderate rationalists" who work towards "synthesis with natural 'science'" in their "Biblical research"?
      In the next Part 10b, we will see how the Lisco-Knak Affair of 1868 entered the world arena... including America.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Malcolm Bowden's YouTube videos on Geocentricity; Copernicanism Part 9

     This continues from Part 8, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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Malcolm Bowden
      My searches would at times attempt to find those scientists who did not follow the commonly accepted Copernicanism and Evolution of modern science.  One of the easier finds was the group of YouTube videos that Malcolm Bowden has assembled showing that heliocentricity can at least be questioned.  Finding legitimate YouTube sites can be a challenge and at first I questioned whether Mr. Bowden was qualified.  But I discovered he had not only training in the sciences but had been employed full time in applied science and is now a semi-retired Consulting Civil and Structural Engineer.  Mr. Bowden, like Faulkner and North, claims Christianity, but not Lutheranism.   He lives near London, England and his English accent is quite understandable, and pleasurable for me.  
     The videos on this subject are listed under the sub-heading "Geocentricity Videos" on his "Links to my Videos" web page.  Mr. Bowden evidently has a "thick skin" to post his videos on YouTube where the majority of commenters ridicule him.  But among the comments are those who have been helped by the scientific refutations of heliocentrism and evidences for geocentricity.
     Since I have some higher education in science, I found at least 3 features of his explanations helpful:

1) Mach's Principle makes it quite plausible to explain "geosynchronous satellites".  At the 2:51 mark in his "Geocentricity - Satellites+Mach" video, Bowden says:
"So we can say that it is not a hypothetical centrifugal force that operates on the satellites but a real attraction to the stars."
Bowden repeats and expands "Mach's Principle" in another video ("Geocentricity 2nd version") at the 13:55 mark. — This notion of Mach's Principle fascinated me for it seemed that I had heard of it somewhere in the science training of my youth...  I remember spinning my body around under the night sky and noticed that the stars were spinning... so why couldn't they be spinning around the Earth? Why indeed...

2a) The Barbour and Bertotti paper "Gravity and Inertia in a Machian Framework" (mentioned at the 3:10 mark, copy of paper here [2018-01-16 updated links]; (in Geocentricity 2nd Version video 14:15 mark) is a scholarly paper of a mathematical model of a "Machian Framework" which explains Coriolis forces, the equatorial bulge at the earth's equator, the dragging of a free pendulum (Foucault's Pendulum), and more.
2b) Bowden also published Popov's paper "The dynamical description of the geocentric Universe" from 2013 on his website [2018-01-16 updated links].  This was furnished to him by a sympathetic YouTube viewer and is another impressive scholarly paper using Mach's Principle to account for a "fixed and centered Earth".

3) Experiments that failed to prove the Earth was moving (ref. video Geocentricity - 2nd Version):
  • Michelson-Morley Experiment (2:35 - 4:05) showed no result in its intention to prove the Earth was moving through the æther (or ether)
  • Michelson-Gale experiment (7:07 & 7:51)
  • Airy's Failure (7:17 & 8:27)
  • Sagnac's experiment (7:30 & 10:08) – further explained in a separate video.  This "effect" is also said to disprove Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

     Bowden covers a few other science topics, e.g. Planck's Density which involves large numbers in the range of a googol (Google?).  He also spends time at the end of the "2nd version" video ably answering some critics. And I appreciated his reverence for "God's inspired Word", the Bible.
     So after hearing of all these scientific evidences that refuted heliocentrism, I noticed that Bowden credited Dr. Gerardus Bouw for much of his presentations on Geocentricity.  This name had been continually popping up in relation to "Geocentricity" and so I decided to purchase Dr. Bouw's latest book, Geocentricty: Christianity in the Woodshed.  While I was at it, I also purchased Dr. James Hanson's book The Bible and Geocentricity.  Both of these are available from the Tycho Brahe Shop on the website of the Association for Biblical Astronomy –  I will cover these in a later blog post, but I will return again to the world-wide affair created by the confession of Pastor Gustav Knak in my next Part 10a.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Robert Schadewald's straw man, judges LCMS; Copernicanism Part 8 (& an Easter message)

      This continues from Part 7, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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Robert Schadewald
      I move on from Luther to one of the more prominent antagonists that is found on the Internet today and one who is quite different from naysayers Faulkner and North who claim Christianity – Robert Schadewald († 2000).  Mr. Schadewald figures prominently in the public struggle to keep any notion of the idea of Creation out of public school teaching.  One indicator of his prominence is that the University of Wisconsin-Madison holds his collection at their library, the "Robert Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science" – all 884 items including A short explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism.  One wonders that the university was more than pleased to retain Schadewald's use of word "pseudo-science" for any reference to "Creation".  Go Badgers??  Objective science truth?
      Antagonists are quite happy to attach all manner of teachings to "Christianity" – alchemy, astrology, UFOs, perpetual motion, etc. and... the teaching of a "flat earth".  Wendy Schadewald (Robert's sister-in-law?) published posthumously in 2015 a writing of his online: The Plane Truth –  A History of the Flat-Earth Movement.  Perhaps one of the strongest arguments that Schadewald thought he had made against the Bible (and finally triumphed over it) is when he turns into a Bible expert and so claims the Bible teaches a "flat earth".  This attempt is clearly meant to establish that the Bible is "no textbook of science", and so anyone who holds to Biblical Creation or Geocentricity has no foundation for this physical view of the world, because 'science' has positively disproved both.  Schadewald would have us believe that he is a true champion for Science ... over the "Pseudo-science"... of Christianity.
      The problem I have with this is that as a schoolboy, I never learned from the Bible that the Earth was flat.  I read the Bible in my youth... and although most of my confirmation training was in using Luther's Small Catechism which concentrated on the doctrines of first importance (the Law, the Gospel, and their proper distinction, grace, means of grace, etc.), yet the historical and natural history aspects were also noted as being true.  I believed the Bible taught creation and that "the sun stood still" as Joshua commanded (and the Holy Ghost confirmed – Joshua 10:13).  But I never learned from the Bible that the Earth was flat.  And when I returned to my Christian faith, I determined to listen to the whole Bible on cassette tapes – twice.  I did this while traveling on business matters.  I recall listening to the account of Joshua and the Sun standing still, of Jonah in the belly of the fish.  And again, I did not learn from all this listening to the Bible that the Earth was flat.  So it was a surprise to find Schadewald desperately citing all manner of Bible verses which he claims to positively teach a "flat earth" and typically does not miss including a scoffing remark.  Dumb me... how could I have missed this "flat earth" teaching?  But as Luther taught, if the Bible did teach the Earth was flat, I would have to believe it because God said it, and then leave it until the Last Day until all was revealed.  Let the scoffers scoff!
      One can sense in Mr. Schadewald's fixation on talk of a "flat earth" a "straw man" argument because his 'science' proving Evolution is actually quite weak.  And could it be that he is even acknowledging that his scientific case for heliocentrism is not so strong as he would have us believe?... that he cannot actually objectively prove that heliocentrism is objective truth?  ... I will leave the scientific case for Creation to the vast documentation available elsewhere.  But I will cover the questionable science for heliocentrism in a future blog post.
      Ah, but C.F.W. Walther taught that even if man's 'science' seems to prove otherwise, a Christian should take the safe route and believe the Bible, even to the Last Day if man's 'science' seems to prove the Bible wrong.  A Christian is to know a priori that even in matters of natural history that the Bible is true.  — And what about those Christians who teach a "flat earth"?  Walther explains that a matter of natural science "is not an article of faith but is at most only an object of faith".  If  a "flat earth" (or a Geocentrist) Christian would impose their "world-view" on other Christians and make that a test of faith, Walther's counsel clearly counters that only those who teach that the Bible contains errors are stepping into the realm of heresy.  Schadewald seems at times to be quite close to doing just this... or does he?  Some of the "flat earth" Christians... perhaps less so.
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      Schadewald was prolific in researching many things.  The Appendix D: Geocentricity of his publication states:
"During the last third of the 20th century, the geocentric view made a remarkable comeback among ultra-conservative Christians as an adjunct to creation science."
I was unaware of this "comeback" by certain "ultra-conservative Christians".  He then went on to the sub-heading "Geocentricity Among Lutherans" and highlighted several Lutheran teachers and pastors.  I will call these:
Robert Schadewald's Hall of Fame (Shame?)
He goes on to mention a second group of American (German) Lutherans:
That Schadewald could compile such a complete listing (almost) was quite amazing to me.  How did he know so much about Walther and Pieper?  Where did he learn of Pastor Knak?  Did he go to a local LCMS or WELS pastor in Wisconsin to find this out?  He does not say. But his research helped my research greatly!  In fact I plan to make available almost all of the above publications in future blog posts, except J.R.L Lange's which are not so easy to procure.
      And so I must thank the University of Wisconsin-Madison and their Robert Schadewald Collection for making Luther, Walther, Pieper, Lindemann and Pasche famous!  Go Badgers! —  Ah, but Schadewald continues with a most perceptive comment about today's LCMS:
"As the 20th century progressed, however, the LCMS became more urban and sophisticated, and geocentricity largely faded from view."
Schadewald wasn't the only one who noticed this change in the LCMS from its former self.  I will record another outsider's similar comment later.
      Lastly, Schadewald gives more details of the resurgence of Geocentricity in "the last third of the 20th Century".  Among the names given are "two Cleveland astronomers, James N. Hanson and Gerardus Bouw".  We have heard earlier of these two from Drs. Danny Faulkner and Gary North in earlier blogs.  Were these LCMS Lutherans or any other Lutherans?... it seems not.  Their organization, the Association for Biblical Astronomy, is still active today and I will be reviewing their publications later.
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      But in reading of Mr. Schadewald, I came across some aspects that made me wonder just how "skeptical" he was... regarding Christianity.

1)   In the Appendix D: Geocentricity, under the sub-heading "Christian Opposition to Copernican Astronomy", Mr. Schadewald said:
"Taken literally, the Bible describes an immovable earth and mobile sun.  For example, 1 Chronicles 16:30 says, “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” (New English Bible.  See also Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, and Isaiah 45:18.) At Gibeon, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still but said nothing about the earth ceasing to rotate (Joshua 10:12).  Likewise, when Isaiah moved the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, it was the sun that moved ten degrees (Isaiah 38:8).  Religious opponents of Copernican astronomy cited these and other passages to justify their position."
This is a fair report of "the Bible taken literally"!... Schadewald does not omit the Joshua passage!  When reading other antagonists, it was not unusual for them to insert a note of scoffing or ridicule here and there in reporting this.  For example, Angus Armitage in his The World of Copernicus called those who still held the Biblical worldview against Copernicanism as "cranks".  Schadewald missed a perfect opportunity here to scoff at "the Bible taken literally" —

2) Another report of Mr. Schadewald that seemed not to fit with his normal scoffing of the Bible was by an associate at his passing – Eugenie C Scott [2018-01-08 link updated], co-founder of NCSE, the National Center for Science Education.  Emphases are mine:
"...his keen insight into the people and ideas of the creationism controversy. ... For Bob, more than any of us, personally knew and was friends with many of the people whose ideas we disagree with. ... he saw no contradiction in going out afterward for a beer with these same adversaries. He made a distinction between creationists whom he considered sincere and who treated the scientific data on evolution fairly (even if they rejected it), and others whom he considered "snake-oil salesmen". When one creationist recently lost most of his personal library in a fire, Bob generously boxed up duplicate copies of his books on the creation/evolution controversy and shipped them off. There are a number of creationists who personally will miss Bob, even though they may not miss his barbed criticisms of their scientific statements or his astute dissections of their logic."
The above admissions by Eugenie Scott quite amazed me.  She even admitted that the "any of us" staff of the NCSE other than Robert were largely not friends with "creationists", etc.  I wonder that this attitude of Robert Schadewald may have caused some tensions among the NCSE staff members.

3) Lois Schadewald (Robert's sister) said the following about Robert in her Preface:
" some ways, I think, he was never totally satisfied with anything he had written."
"It fascinated Bob to try to understand how someone could so firmly believe in an idea that almost everyone else would consider an indicator of insanity or, at least, naiveté."
These passages seemed to indicate something less than ridicule ("fascinated"?) of those who actually believed the Bible's account of creation and geocentricity.
==>> A note to Lois Schadewald:  
Martin Luther disapproved of Melanchthon's use of astrology, but did not consider this a heresy.  Why?  Because he considered Melanchthon firm on the first articles of Christianity (see his Small Catechism in your brother Robert's Collection) -- "by grace are ye saved, not of works" (Eph. 2:8-9).  And what about your brother Robert on the first articles of Christianity?  And what about you?... do you scoff at Martin Luther's Small Catechism?  The Bible is still true when it (literally) says
That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19)
To Lois Schadewald and Eugenie C. Scott
==>> Would you scoff at this message?... the message of Easter?
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      In the next Part 9, I review Malcolm Bowden's YouTube videos on the science for Geocentricity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Luther's Table Talk against new Astronomer, Copernicanism; Part 7

[2018-04-04 Addendum at bottom added on John Warwick Montgomery, Angus Menuge, and Jack Kilcrease; 2018-03-30: added note in red text below on J. Michael Reu]
      This continues from Part 6, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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      From Walther's comments against Copernicanism in 1868, I want to go back to the Table Talk recorded of Luther on this subject.  Of all the writings of the old German Missouri Synod fathers, I have seen none of them reference this Table Talk of Luther.  That seemed somewhat curious to me since Luther here seems to speak directly on the subject, whereas the Missourians (Walther, Pieper, etc. and the Synodical Conference) appealed essentially to Holy Scripture.  I wonder that they knew that an appeal to Luther's Table Talk would be discounted because these came not from his own hand, but were recorded second hand by students and friends.
Owen Gingerich
A. D. White
      Owen Gingrich, in an article for Christian History, says one of the Table Talk versions was by "an eager young student", the other by "another student".  So there were apparently two witnesses to this saying of Luther, not one, which enhances its credibility.  He also states that it largely was made prominent by Andrew Dickson White, first president of Cornell University.  I have not seen evidence in my research to refute Gingrich's assertion so far.  And it will also be noted that Gingerich does not question whether Luther actually made this statement, unlike some other scholars who discount it.  In any event, I want to present both available versions. 
      The first version is my translation from the St. Louis Edition, vol. 22, page/column 1546 [fixed link 2018-01-08].  The pertinent passage is the second paragraph under the heading "2. Wie ferne man Astronomiam billigen soll." (How far one should approve Astronomy) beginning with "Es ward gedacht ..."; the subheading "Der erste Absatz bei Cordatus No. 1183" (The first passage by [Conrad] Cordatus No. 1183):

Translation by BackToLuther; highlighting is mine.

It was thought that a new Astrology wanted to prove that the earth would be moved and go around, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and moon; just as if one sits on a cart or in a ship and is moved, meaning he was sitting quietly and at rest, but the earth and the trees go about and are moving. But so it goes now, that whoever would be wise leaves nothing of what others brought, he must make something of his own which must be the very best, as he makes it.  The fool wants to turn around the whole art of astronomy. But as the Holy Scripture indicates, so Joshua called the sun to stand still, not the earth. Josh. 10: 12-13.

The second version is from the American Edition of Luther's Works, vol. 54, pgs 358-359, published in 1967.  It was edited and translated by Theodore Tappert.  It is a translation from the Weimar edition and used a different recorder of Luther's table talks – Anthony Lauterbach.   Below I present this version including Tappert's footnote:

No. 4638: Luther Rejects the Copernican Cosmology
June 4, 1539
There was mention of a certain new astrologer 401 who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the earth and the trees were moving. [Luther remarked,] “So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Josh. 10:12].”
– – – – – – – – –
401  The reference is undoubtedly to Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543).  His revolutionary theory was finally set forth in his Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres (1543), but before this it was taught, among other places, in Wittenberg itself.  For the historical context, see John Dillenberger, Protestant Thought and Natural Science (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1960), pp. 28-49; Walter A Hansen (trans.), Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House), I (1962), 414-431.

Tappert, along with Gingrich, does not question the authenticity of this general statement by Luther against Copernicanism. [2018-03-30: J. Michael Reu, the noted Luther scholar, also did not question the authenticity of this Table Talk in his 1944 book Luther and the Scriptures, p. 56]
John R. Christianson
Luther College, emeritus

      So it came as a bit of a surprise that a Lutheran scholar of history, John R. Christianson of Luther College, attempted to deny aspects of this Table Talk of Luther, especially since there were two witnesses.  In his article "Copernicus and the Lutherans" in the Sixteenth Century Journal, October 1978, page 2 (Jstor copy here), he indeed agreed with Heinrich Bornkamm, calling this Table Talk of Luther 
"next to worthless". (!)
So there is some disagreement among today's scholars over the significance of these Table Talks of Luther.

      But Franz Pieper did not refer to Luther's Table Talk in his Christliche Dogmatik textbook, he referred to Luther's own first hand writings that touched on astronomy and largely confirmed the essential point of this table talk.  Could it be that Profs. Christianson and Bornkamm were uninformed on Luther's own writings on the subject of Astronomy?  This denial by Christianson calls to mind what other scholars have attempted to do in denying Luther's absolute dependence on the authority and inspiration of Holy Scripture.  —
      And there is the parallel subject of Biblical chronology which is largely denied today by scholars, but Luther said this about Biblical chronology (ref. this blog post):
"This thing has moved me that though I have not despised the historians completely, I have preferred Holy Scripture to them. I use the historians in such a way that I am not made to contradict the Scriptures. For I believe that in the Scriptures the true God speaks; but in the histories, good people by their ability, their diligence, and their faithfulness prove (but as human beings), or at least that the copyists, can err."
This quote perfectly summarizes Luther's position also regarding Astronomy... he would not despise Astronomists, but would prefer Holy Scripture to them, just as he handled historians and Biblical Chronology.
     I will revisit some of the persons mentioned in this blog later, especially Andrew Dickson White. —  But my research kept going in many directions, one of which ran into the 'scientific' antagonist Robert (Bob) Schadewald and his well-known fight against not only the Bible's teaching of Creation, but also Geocentricity.  In the next Part 8, I visit some of his writings.

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2018-04-03: In addition to the antagonistic Bornkamm and Christianson above, there are less antagonistic (perhaps) scholars on the significance of these Table Talks.  It has come to my attention that in 1970, John Warwick Montgomery authored his “classic” book In Defense of Martin Luther (recently republished NPH here and NRP here) which included the following section, pp. 91-92:
... Luther’s resistance to the Copernican theory. Now it is quite true that Luther on one occasion set over against the Biblical account of Joshua’s commanding the sun to stand still the view of “a certain new astrologer who proved that the earth moves.” However, those who confidently quote this passage (usually from a late, redacted text) are invariably unaware that (1) Copernicus is not named in the passage, so it is not absolutely certain that Luther had him in mind; (2) the statement was a conversational table remark made in the year 1539, four years before anything by Copernicus had been printed, and so could not possibly have been made on the basis of an actual study of Copernicus’ arguments; (3) this is the only such remark contained in the entire corpus of Luther’s writings — extending to some seventy-five volumes in the best critical edition; Luther, in other words, made no negative comments on Copernicus’ theory after the publication of the De revolutionibus in 1543; (4) Luther elsewhere makes clear that he is quite willing to admit that the Biblical writers can and do describe physical phenomena from their own observational standpoint and not in absolute terms;11 thus the Joshua passage could not have been for him an insuperable barrier to the acceptance of the Copernican position; and, finally, (5) Luther’s one passing remark, which may or may not have been directed to Copernicus, did not appear in print until 1566 — a full twenty years after Luther’s death— so it cannot be regarded as having acted as an actual deterrent to the spread of the new world picture among Lutherans or others. Indeed, followers of Luther were instrumental in the initial promotion of Copernicus’ theory.

This "apologetic" has apparently been given the widest acceptance among modern Lutherans since 1970 – most recently Dr. Montgomery gave a lecture for the "Village Lectures" November 8, 2017 entitled "A Lawyer's Defense of Christianity".
In 2015 Prof. Angus Menuge, of Concordia University–Wisconsin, largely relies on Montgomery's above “defense” of Luther on Copernicanism in his essay “The Cultural and Aesthetic Impact of Lutheranism” in the recent book Where Christ Is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (p. 225 ff.).  Menuge is a professor of philosophy at Concordia University, Wisconsin.  And according to this website, he is “principal drafter of the LC-MS Commission on Theology and Church Relations report, In Christ All Things Hold Together: The Intersection of Science and Christian Theology (LC-MS, 2015)”.  

Then in 2016 Dr. Jack Kilcrease, in a Spring 2016 Lutheran Quarterly book review confirmed Menuge's (and Montgomery's) “apologetic” with the following statement:
“On the other end of the spectrum, the Liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic impulse to synthesize culture with Christianity has the destructive effect of treating finite and provisional human culture as if it were on par with the Word of God. There is no clearer example of this than the sciences, where the Roman Catholic Church’s synthesis of Aristotle and the Bible made it initially unable to accept the new astronomy of the seventeenth century. This harmed Christianity by making it appear scientifically backward. At present, Menuge believes that Mainline Protestants are essentially making the same mistake with their unqualified acceptance of Neo-Darwinism.”
Kilcrease's statement, equating faith in the words of Joshua 10:13 with "Aristotle" and "the Roman Catholic Church's synthesis" would seem to be similar to the charge against "religion" by Andrew Dickson White of "The Warfare of Science".

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Walther– even if problem not solved until Last Day; Copernicanism Part 6

      This continues from Part 5, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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      From the "science" aspect of Dr. North's document, I return again to the theological aspect.  In an earlier blog (December 7, 2011) I published Walther's writings specific to Copernicanism at the Eastern District gathering of pastors in 1868, held beginning August 26 in Richmond Virginia, but I did not include his full text.  I want to rectify that shortcoming in this blog post.  It is notable that the year is 1868, the same as when the world-wide furor broke out over Pastor Knak's famous statement in response to the "scientifically" disproven Bible which teaches that the sun goes around the earth:
"Yes, that I do, I know only the worldview of the Holy Scriptures!"
      So these Eastern District pastors were surely familiar with the furor spreading around the world regarding Pastor Knak's confession.  In October, Lehre und Wehre (p. 325 under "In Berlin hat neulich...") would report on what other German theologians were saying against (and for) Pastor Knak's position.  But I want to highlight a further statement that Walther makes which is in the final paragraph below:
Translation by BackToLuther; Emphasis in original; highlighting is mine

Copernican System.
It was asked whether it was to be held as an article of faith that which is illuminated from Joshua 10:12—14, that the sun goes around the earth, and thus whether they must reject the Copernican system.
C.F.W. Walther
Joshua 10: 12-14
Answer: This is a part, not an article of the doctrinal structure.  Now, if one can not see that the Holy Scriptures would this teach at this and at other locations, that one can thereby well be a believing Christian; but whoever believes that the author of the book of Joshua wanted to write how things stood with the path of the sun but was in error, he makes the basis of all faith, the Holy Scriptures themselves, uncertain and so assaults the foundation.  But whoever thinks Joshua speaks optically, as also the Copernicans do when they say that the sun rises, the sun sets, that one can not be condemned.  
Here, once again, was raised the question whether it was possible to admit that the Bible uses the optical mode of speech?
Answer. Because this doctrine, whether the sun goes around the earth or the earth around the sun, is not an article of faith but is at most only an object of faith, a part of the doctrinal structure of Holy Scriptures, so we must from this point of view, because such (optical) way of speaking is unworthy of God where He would be using a human form of speech that contains an error, even so consider such a one as erring, but not as a heretic.  But on the other hand it is also certain that such a one sets up a dangerous hermeneutical principle in that indeed this speech is not only put in the mouth of Joshua, but is also used by the author of this writing as well (verse 13), a principle whose consequences makes the Bible uncertain for him.  
It should be noted that recently some astronomers acknowledge that the Copernican system is only a hypothesis (assumption), and that some have returned to this, that the sun goes around the Earth, for example Schelling, and Carol Grande in his Welt-Gebäude, Leipzig, 1857.  In the Bible we have divine thoughts and truths which proceed, as it were, physically in words from God.  He indeed uses human speech, but it is impossible that it may contain an error.  This is actually a problem and will probably be resolved only on the Last Day; meanwhile one goes the safest way if one keeps simply (einfältig, or naively) to the Scripture, rather than to human authorities, since we mostly cannot investigate the matter ourselves, even so most stick to authorities.  In summary, one can well deny anything in such teachings that are not in organic connection with the doctrinal struc­ture of Holy Scriptures, as long as one does not recognize that it is revealed in the Bible; once you recognize that and also deny it, so one thereby rejects the Bible.

Walther, in the highlighted statements above, indicates that even though a scientific problem occurs, one is to take the route of believing the Bible over "science".  He says "it is impossible that it (the Bible) may contain an error".  Now we moderns may look at the second highlighted statement and think that if Walther were living today, he might not make such a strong stand against Copernicanism, especially with all the 'science' that refutes it... but that would contradict what he said earlier: "This is actually a problem (of 'science') and will probably be resolved only on the Last Day".  Walther is willing to wait until the Last Day when all will be made known, even if science cannot properly explain that the sun goes around the earth.
      There is another notable point that Walther makes in the last paragraph – he appeals to secular philosophers and teachers (Schelling and Carol Grande) who at least question Copernicanism.  In a later blog post, I will show that Walther was not alone in this kind of appeal.  Indeed, Dr. Alexander Frantz in Germany used these same names in his defense against Copernicanism... but I get ahead of myself -- this will come later.
      In the earlier 1992 CPH publication of Walther's essay (Essays for the Church, Vol. 1, pg 89), Prof. Charles Arand's Foreword says:
"...the reader may find of passing interest Walther’s view of the Copernican system (he rejects it) and his approach to dealing with those who hold otherwise."
It appears by Arand's comment that he may have had only a "passing interest" and rejected "Walther's view of the Copernican system" even in 1992 and essentially taught then what the CTCR/LC-MS formalized in its document 23 years later in 2015 -- see Part 1.
       I am not done presenting Walther on Copernicanism.  I will revisit his commentary (see my earlier blog) on J. C. W. Lindemann's brochure caricaturing the 'science' of Copernicanism.   Later I will publish a striking statement he makes in 1880 about Copernicus himself ... sending me on a month of research.  Again, this will be presented later.  —  In the next Part 7, I want to go back, back to Luther, on this subject of the new Astronomy.