Full Text for Who Can This Be? A Review Article (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER is published quarterly by the faculty cordia Theological Seminary, Sp~gf ie ld , Ilhois, of the L Church-Missouri Synod. EDITORIAL COMMIIITEE ERICH H. HEMTZEN, Editor R~YMOND F. SURBURG, Book Revitxu Editor DAVID P . SCAER, Associate Editor JOHN D. FRITZ, Associate Editor PRESIDENT J . A. 0. PREUS, ex officio Contents EDITORIALS R.I. Luther, b. Nov. 10, 1 iVho speaks for the bliss A DANISH LUTHERAN DOGMA RAYMOND F. SURBURG, Department of Exegetical Theology, Springfield, Illinois ................ EVANGELICAL TESTIRIONY AT SITTENSEN.. :: OTTO F. STAHLKE, Departme Springfield, Illinois \VHO CAY THIS BE? A R EUGENE F. KLUG, Departme Springfteld, Illinois BOOKS RECEIVED .............................................................. .i Missouri, mill also cover mailing change of The Springfielder. of address should be sent to the Business Manager of The Spring cordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois 62702. Address communications to the Editor, Erich H. Heintzen, Concor logical Seminary, Springfield, Illinois 62702. Who Can This ~ e ? ' A Rezjiczv Article CCORDING TO the preface, this little booklet is ''offered in the A hope of fostering the growing trust and respect among various L~itheran groups and of deepening our understanding of the Christ, both as to his person and work" (p. 7). Edited under the capable hands of the executive secretary of the Division of ~heological Studies of LCUSA, Prof. Arnold 1:. Carlson, thc ch~iptcrs represent a collation that grew "out of discussions and readings" by ten let- turers on sclectcd thenics, all dealing with Christology: the Chalce- doninn statement, with a probing illto the adequacy of its fornl~lla- tions; :I closc look ;it the nature of inan in resent-day categories and the possible relcvancc these h ;~ r~c for a bctter llndcrstanding of our Lord Hi~nself, particularly His human nature; an effort at relating these two, tr;iditional forim~lntion and contemporary thought-form) meaningfully with each other. Selected clcrgyincn and laymen from the four llicnibcr hotlies of I,CUSA met at arca conferences for reflection and cliscussion on these subjects. The stutly docunicnt gives solid evidence of love for the Gospel. Evidently participants sharctl ;I stilnulating expcricncc and were re;lssuretl to find fcllow Lutherans collcurring. \Vha t is unclear to this rcvic\vcr is thc somc..ivhat detached, academic posture assumed n ithin tllc docu~roit-;,lid SO also al~l,arcntly in the discussions first of all--that the efforts \\.ere not iiitcnded to result in l~osition state- ments but rathcr ";illon. 111~11 lo take a v;lriet)r of positions and hope- full! contributr to an opcnncss of f;iith and tllougllt that \ i l l strellgtl~ll thc cliurclies" (i). 7). Perhaps thc right to use this al)~")ac]~ ()ugh t not be cliallengctl, but frankly, the church has n e w b c ~ strcngthcnc(1 by the hind of openness of rniinl which suggests that the ~ncaning of God's rerelatioil is or niay open up to a \';11-ict\ of positions (l);lrtic1113rIY n.}lcn the article on Christ is at stalieJv or that it dcpcllds upoil di\ro\cries in tllc ]ifc sciences before i t can t a k ~ concrete forni, if eyer. It is ull-Lut}ler-likc to imply that assertions concrrning iln rlrticle of faith like that of Christ and I-lis \\nl-lc cannot 1~ 111~1dc in ;In!. dogm;,tjc sort of nlay for our day. God, :I \ ollr Confcssiolis rclnind lls, olll!. for attentiye listeners, not \l1' ' 'lll~l~in~ 1-oIC1.s. nit11 refcr~ii~11 (O IgC to say in the reye- IatiOll bc (~~~c i~ thcd us ill I-loly \\-rit! >illcc tllc (loculncnt is presented for study and discussion, and tllc~clorc ;~lsn crilicisni, it n-ould appear to be in order to list ccrtaill n e d p l r k ~ l l ; Or ' - ( .~~l ld tI10~1gIits. frOnl a Biblicn], ;is \\ell 3s Lutheran 1 \ \ ' I 1 0 (' 171ilS Ill:? . . . btudirs ~n Christology. ~ r c ~ ~ a r c d by the I)t\l\loll 7 Ilcologlc;~l Studies. Lutheran Council in the U.S.A.9 315 l ' ~ r l , \ \ c . . lol l \ . \cw 1-ork. 10010. ,A\ nilable without charge. 1'.11'~ I b,lt 1,. 16 pagcss. Who Can This Bc? 41 point of view, concerning some of the niethodology and theology proposed within the clocumcnt. 1 . I t is highly doubtful that present-day studies into the nature of Inan as suggested by the clocument, will shed any light upon our understanding of thc l>ersonal union of natures in Christ. Surely the finest insights of l~sycllology and related fields--all of them the most i~zseczlre of the sci- ences!-cannot finally be cletcrminative for our understand- ing of the human nature of Christ our Lord. Tliis is a very hazardous approach, to say the least, whatever esteem Ire may have for thcsc sciences otherwise in the untlcr- standing and care of 111,111 himself. 011 the subject of Christ's humanity and ~vhcther the church has failed to understand it in its full dimension and significal~cc, the following cluotation fro111 the document is very disturbing, because of the inll~lications it has: "Al- tllough \I-c have attested both to the divinc and human in Jesus, h;rvc not our actual ~~roclnmation ant1 teaching often yicldetl to the docctic tcndcnc!/? \Vc have not found it difficult to pull out all stops in confessing Jcsus as truc God. More hesitatingly have we spoken of Jcsus as a full partiei- pa11t in thc human race." (13. 15) This is ;i fcar conil~letcly without foundation or cvidcncc, at Icast for J,utheran the- ology. (Docctism denied that Christ's body \\.as real and taught instead that it onl~r al>pcarcd so, or that, a t most, i t was a celestial body). Alzrrli Illore real, ;is a threat to Christian theology for our til11~' is tllc \.ie\v of Christ ~vhich raises again the sl~cctcr of (ly~iamic AIo~iarcliiit~lislii, ~ccord- ing to n~llich tlle Logos came to I\ ork in ant1 through this man Jcsus in a most vital sort of \ray, mc;il~n.hilc denying IIis truc deity. Ucngt 1-Iiigglund, jli his recently l>ublishecl Histo)-jz of Theology ((:oncor(lia P~ll~lisliing 1 IOLISC, 1968), correctly points out that the dynnlnis~ii of Z'a~ll of Siinlosata has perennially st~rgcd to the forc: "This I-ationalistic intcr- prctation of thc Christian f'aitli in God Ivas the first clearly formulateci csa~nplc of a point of 1ic.n ~vliich Iias appeared in Inany diflercnt fornis. In 111ore ~ C ' C C I I ~ tiriles it has 31'- pcarcd in Socinianjsm and other Unitarian schools, nc ~ve l l ,I 0s i l r ~zeology alzd ill crrtaiir 171-(111cl1~< f li/?crtll l!lc'ofogy. (I;In~pl~nsis added.) 3 . This lcatls to anothcr criticism of tllc doctinlc~nt's 11andling of JCSLIS according to the human ~ ~ a t i ~ r c . . r l t \.arious points i t speaks of tlic huiilanity of Jcsi~s in such a \ \ a ? as to sug- gest a scl f-sustaining csscncc or person of ni:lrl, for csanil~lc, in a statclncnt like "in the mall Jesus, God confronts LIS" (p. 16), or "~vllo sharcd our hun~anit)., perliilps . cven . our ljniitatio~ls" (p. 10). '[jicsc statements couI(I. IS true, he understood correctly, but the contest in the d0~11. merit is so intent on hun i an i r i n~ t l ~ c person of Christ that it appears to speak in terms ot an autohypostatic naturc for tlic man Jesus, as a distinct human person according to that nature. Scripture says that it \\,as thc Person of the son of God \\rho bcc;line Inan and took the hu~i ian natui-c, tlie Logos became flesh. There was only the Pcrson of the Son of-Got1 who had both a di\linc and a human nature. Ll1thcri111 theology has heretofore al\vays rccogni~ed the danger of autohypostasis as rcgartls Christ's human ~ ~ a t i ~ r c ' , but the t~ocumcnt sccms to ignore it, in fact to play along \\ritli it. The \ \~l~olc \~alue and po\\rcr of the \licarious atoiic- mcnt impinges upon the fact that it \vas the person of thC holy, ctcri~al Son of God in the nat~ii-c of our sinful f l c ~ h . 4. Tf the foregoing is a valid criticisill, t11c.n sitlc 11y side ~11011ld come the reminder that a .~vrongful ant1 un-Scriptural kind of keliosis may also be in\~ol\lcd. T h c interpretation of llliil. 2, 6, "hc counted not equality with Got1 a thing to be (rr:~sped," understood as Jesus lia\iing "embraced his human- P lty and acccptetl his crenturclincss, cmpt!-ing himself of ally aspiration to be as God," (p. 2 31, sccms to bear this out. t\s docs also this statement: ii 7 So the gospels c l ca r l~~ gikc us a picture of one who, likc the rest of us, was groping throug11 each nc\\. sitilatioll to iind solnc clc:~r indication of \\:hat thc Father's \\.ill ]night 11c. No\\-1ic.1-e is this niorc c\idcnt than in thc account of the Gctlisciiianc tigon) . . . . If tlicsc \yards arc intcrprctcd in their ob\.ious meaning, Jews at that monicnt had no tli\inc prc\7ic\\ of thc ~lcccssit\~ of the cross . . . . Likcly 11c was c1.m i~nr~\vnrc of thc rc.cntl o1.c.r back\\-arch in our cfforts at h u m a n i ~ i n g Christ to s~1c.11 nn extent that 11.c rim head-on into Scrip- turc's o\ 11 tcstilnony t l ~ i t Hc \\.ho was in t11e flesh untler- stood the necessity of the cross and toltl Tjis follo\\~crs about it (John 3 , l - l ; S,3S; 12,312, ctc..) ancl that Hc spolic plain- l y about tllc ccrtaintj. of IIis resurrcction aftcr voluntarily la!ing do\\n His o\\:~i life (hlntt. 12,40; 20 ,Ol ; 27,63, ctc.)! I\s \\c consider the matter, thcreforc, is not the thrcat to I-utheran thcolo~y at this point n brantl of Ncstorianisnl, c \cn .\rianism, rathcr than Jlocctisin? In this con~~cu t ioa , ho\\ sh;ill I\ c uiiclcrstand the documc~it's clclinition of omni- prcscncc, \\'hc.n i t describes this \vol~dcl.f~~I attribute of our --- p~ ~. IYlzo C h t This Bc? .- ~~~ .~ ----. ~ ~ ~ .~ 4 -- exalted I.ord in terins of ozrr entering into "a believing rcl; tionship" \\-it11 I-lilil? T h e threat of kenoticism seems to b real in view of ~ t n t ~ n l e n t s like thcsc, let alone a possibl (leninl of the gerrcrs nmjestnticn~rr. 5. 'The documei~t ;ilso slioms ;i definite 11rcdilcctio11 for Aulen' Christzls I7ictor emphasis, of Christ who was tri~iiilplian over Satan and evil, a t the expense or neglect of' thc vicad satisfaction. 111 a document on Christ and His 1vo1.k there is precious little focus on the crucified and rise] Szivior, who rros the perfcct Propitiation, the hlcrcy-scat, o Paul calls Him, n ~ h o matlc full atonement for all men' sins, through ~vliosc rctlciiil,tion thcrc is a perfect riglltous ness, or justification, for all who are under the J2aw! It it this Rood news, or Gospel, ~vhich is to bc prcnchccl foi faith's acceptai~ce. 6 . In this connection, oil p;lges 29 ;rnd SO, w l ~ r r r Christ i, being described as Iieconcilcr, therc is noticeable ai.oidancc of speaking of the righteous I\-r;itIl of God against sin ~ l r r r sirrlzers. The ghost of Ritschl sceins to be right off in the ~vings ready to come 011 stage wit11 his Love-focus as the ollly propcr \\.a y of describing Gocl's 11a ture. \\'c tlnrc. ncl cr forget that the denial of the riditcous n.ratli of Gotl against sill i11vohes the denial as n-cll of IJis liolp naturc! It is onl! ill the ~ o i i t ~ x t of God's holilicss and just wrath that His ~\-ondrous loire appears within Scrillturc an(l is to bc unclcr- stood. \\'hate~.el- tlifficulty human reason has \\-it11 sccii~q both love and liatrcd in Go(l at thc same time slioultl f i l i c l its rc.sol~ition, to the extent it C a l l bc rcsol\e(l, i n c\ollncction 11 ith man's ow11 sinful concli tion, for it was I I I ~ I I 11 h o dc- scrircd fully the irratliful r cn~cancc of Go(]. ' l o \\.llo in i l~imile God's nlrath and I~ostility agai~lst sin :i11tl sinncrs. iiic\-itablv cntl n.itli a rctluction of hi11n;ln clej)~-,l~it) ancl sin. \\7iIhclm I>niitinc in Jzrsiijicntioll o f rh~ . L'wgorElj, book to be relenscd in translation this fall I>\. Concortl~~i I'ublishiiig I-Iousc, spcaks dircc t l y to this point : ".['hc Son (lies on the cross, abando~ic(l b!, thcl Fatlicr, dclc~nsclcs~l! tleli~~crod L ~ J I to the mcrcilcss judgmcnt oicr tllc sin of the ~ ~ o r l c l , so that this same I\-orltl miqllt 11c sn\.ctl. In this way anrl only in this n ; ~ y docs Cot1 locc, IIc 1\l1o i5 both the I lol\. anc] the Lo\.ing Onc in i~i~pc~nctr ;~blc unit:. Gotl loves in no otlicr n.a!-. Or illorc ~~rccisc l>, thc Crocl~cl nothillg of anothcr, iib~tract, oun*acrifici:~I 1o1.c.'' 7 . C:crt;~in 111irascs in thc tlocumcnt sho\i. nr l unducb conimit- mcnt to lil~eral theology's thought-forms. l \ ' i t~~css , for CX- a~iiplc, this one n-hich has Tillicli mrittc~i all o \cr i t : "GO(/ is cnpa],]c of \vjlling to fi l l c \rr \ . li~ttnan life wit11 that contcnt thnl \\-as mai~ifcst~cI in the p'>rson of ]rso\ of Ala~n- reth" (p. 23). IVherc is Luther's Christ-for-us in this? Sounds more like tho Nc\v Being of Tillich and the old, old Christ-in-us theology of Schleicrn~acher and all the other subjectivists! .- This will suffice to demonstrate that the docun~ent hardly fills the bill of strengthening the church in our day with clear, meaning ful treatment of the important article on Christology. Considerable spadework remains to bc donc and if we inay offcr a suggestion, it had better be a much more Biblical study in the tradition of our Lutheran Confessions which speak so eloquently and unambiguously on the person and work of our precious Savior, uncluttered with neology's "insights." We ought after all reillember that the same Savior who rebuked the winds and waves also rebuked those \ v I ~ ~ had been in thc boat with Him, with a stern "\Vhere is your faith?'' Their reaction, according to Luke, included the question, "What manner of inail is this? for he conlillandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him" (Lk. 8,25) . But Jesus did not leave His disciples in a quandary as to what manner of man H e was. As time went 011 they were inade sure of who He was and what Hc had come to do. Now we have the Word these al~ostlcs were given by inspira- tion of the Holy Ghost. \Ye dare not leave nleil in a quandary with a perpetual "Who Call This Be?" but must lead tllcnl by the Gospel, Script~irc's \Vorcl concerning, His dcath and rcsurrcction for our salvation, to faith like that of Thomas, who, when he hacl seen the resurrected Savior, exulted : "1111. I,ortl and 1111~ God. "