Full Text for Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches (Text)

(!Tnurnr~tu wl1rnlngirul lInutqly Continuing Lehre und Wehre (Vol. LXXVI) Magazin fuer Ev.-Luth. Homiletik (Vol. LIV) TheoI. Quarterly (1897-1920)-Theol. Monthly (Vol. X) Vol. I December, 1930 No. 12 CONTENTS Page FUERBRINGER, L.: Paulus in Athen ....... ' ............. 881 ENGELDER, TH.: The Active Obedience of Christ ....... 888 GRAEBNER, TH.: Reformed Tendencies in Certain Amer- ican Lutheran Churches ............................... 897 'BERNER, E.: Abhaltung einer Gemeindevisitation ........ 902 ivruELLER, J. T.: Address on Rom. 14, 7-9 at the Memo- rial Service for Mr. Erling Teigen......... . . . . . . . . . . .. 911 STREUFERT, F. C.: Pastoral Visits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 916 Dispositionen ueber die von der Synodalkonferenz ange- nommene Serie alttestamentlicher Texte............... 920 Theological Observer. - Kirchlich-Zeitgeschichtliches. . . . .. 933 Book Review. - Literatur .................................. 953 Em Prediger muss nicht allein weiden, also dass er die Schafe unterweise, wie sie rechte Ohristen Bollen sein, sondern auch daneben den Woelfen wehren, dass sie die Schafe nicht angreifen und mit falscher Lehre verfuehren Imd Irrtum ein- fuehren. - Luthe'r. Es ist kein Ding, das die Leute mehr bei der Kirche behaelt denn die gute Predigt. - Apologie, Art. ~4. If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 1 Oor.14, 8. Published for the Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States" , CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, St. Louis, Mo., Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. 897 Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. The subject is one that would properly call for an extended treatise. Reserving a more detailed discussion for a later date, the writer here would submit in the form of extracts from the official organs of several Lutheran bodies evidence of a strong Reformed leaven now working in the Synods responsible for these periodicals. In the Lutheran Ohurch Quarterly of July, 1930, Prof. A. G. Voigt of the United Lutheran seminary at Oolumbia, S.O., reviews Dr. Ferm's book What Is Lutheranism? He cites as one of the crucial questions which the contributors to this volume were asked to consider the following: "What is meant by the 'Word of God'?" Professor Voigt then continues: "Luther sang: Das W O1·t sie sollen lassen stahn, and the Ohurch which bears his name has ever sung it after him. Shall what has been understood by the Word of God since Luther, not to goo back further, be perpetuated, or shall it, in the light of new intellectual constellations, be exchanged for something else more accordant to ideas current in this new day? Oertainly this is a big question, a vital question. It should be faced with intellectual candor and considered with a conscience towards God as well as towards modern science. A living Ohurch should not be merely content with a traditional answer to such questions." We fear Pro- fessor Voigt desires to suggest that we must consult not only the Scriptures, but also modern science when seeking the answer to the question, "What is the Word of God?" Dr. Geo. M. Stephenson, who teaches history at the University of Minnesota and is a member of the Augustana Synod, reviews the same book in the Lutheran Oompanion of June 21. "All contributors admit that the confessions are fallible," says Professor Stephenson, "but a layman gives up in despair when 'Missouri' delivers itself of the following: 'A wholesale declaration that one accepts the Lutheran Oonfessions "as far as" they agree with the Scriptures not only throws suspicion on these confessions, but also opens the door to doctrinal latitudinarianism and insincerity.' 'There is no reason why any Lu- theran in view of the -isma and vagaries of our times should think of revising the creed and doctrinal attitude of his Ohurch ... .' 'But some Lutherans (or at least they call themselves Lutheran) do.' This is Ferm speaking: 'The doctrine of the complete inerrancy of the Bible, upon which historic Lutheranism has built up a system of orthodoxy, can hardly, without a loss of intellectual integrity and vitality, be to-day maintained in the light of the historical method of understanding the Scriptures.' He cites specific official declara- tions of Lutheranism that are no longer tenable. He even admits that Luther's position on the Eucharist may be fairly challenged as 57 898 Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. a necessarily true Biblical exegesis. . .. In the opinion of the reviewer the logical argument of Ferm is the most convincing and satisfying. He reveals a more profound ecumenical spirit and is untrammeled by symbols and ecclesiasticism." Returning to the Lutheran Ohurch QuartM"ly, we find a collective review of a number of recent publications treating the Atonement. The attitude of the writer (Rev. Theo. K. Finck) is simply, frankly modernistic, as is clear from the following extracts: "Noone, I think, who cares to dismiss all bias from his mind can doubt that the historical Jesus did not live and act with our atonement ideas guiding Him. If He had had any suspicion that the rich man, for instance, would suffer eternal misery in not following Him, Jesus would certainly have told him so plainly." "Paul took a remarkably fine way to say what he felt; we can appreciate the greatness even of his logic without demanding that it be forced into the minds of a generation which thinks in different terms." Rev. Finck assumes the following to have been the origin of the gospel according to John: "Here was some one, doubtless the Apostle John, who was intimately associated with Jesus and received His great religious secret. He told the story of [?to~] a friend who thought in terms of Gnostic (or some other) philosophy, and that person received the religious secret. Together (let us say) they projected our gospel of John, the apostle furnishing the remarkably accurate reminiscences of Jesus, the former philosopher trying to express the message of Jesus' life in the noblest, most expressive terminology he knew. Now, obviously, if such may have been the origin of the Fourth Gospel, we neither have to read the J ohannine circle of ideas into Jesus' own lips, nor dare we discard the J ohanninism as useless." Luther's own teaching of the Atonement is traced to the experience of the Reformer in his mighty wrestling with the problem of sin. He thus, says Rev. Finck, classifies with other great religious geniuses who "bequeath to their followcrs a burdensome sense of sin as a terrific reality; and their followers innocently spend the next few centuries talking about the terrible sin which in the mean time has dropped out of the social horizon because the age has become somewhat unified again." Noting the effort of other writers who stress the tremendous reality of sin in contending for the reality or objectivity of the Atonement, he adds the comment: "Doubtless that is good Paulinism and good Lutheranism; but it is not Anselmian nor, I believe, inherent in the religion of Jesus Himself." Then he invites the readers of the Lutheran Ohurch Quar- terly to go back to Ohrist Himself. - "What atonement can we actually find in the historical J esus~" he asks, and his answer is depressingly simple - an atonement that is nothing more than an exemplar of a life that was "absorbed in the idea of the way of God being the right way." The divinity of Ohl'ist, His sinlessness and Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. 899 vicarious atonement are termed categories that have been "endlessly emphasized," while we have forgotten the more important truth that Jesus "was the happiest man that ever lived. He discovered at first hand, and practised, that the way to have the happiest possible life is not to repress, and struggle over, the natural instincts nor, on the other hand, to indulge them to excess, but to enjoy the instincts and .appetites of life to the full, except in any respect in which such ,enjoyment interferes with the ability of everybody else also to enjoy them. Hence Jesus enjoyed the feasts of His day with an excellent appetite, ('gluttonous and wine-bibber,' they called Him), but could with equal ease give up every physical exercise of the sexual function because He could prosecute His work more effectively without family -ties. And that style of life, which Jesus carried out so spontaneously .and fully, He invites us also to live. 'Be ye followers of Me.' That is the atonement with God that He has given us." Not only does -the Quarterly print this review, but fails to add a note challenging its subversive teachings. Oontinuing in the same issue of the Lutheran Chu1'ch Quarterly, we find a review of Dean Shailer Mathews's book The Atonement ,and the Social Process. The well-known extreme radicalism of the Ohicago Divinity School professor does not prevent the reviewer (Rev. O. F. Sanders, Professor at Gettysburg Oollege) from designating him as "one of those intense Ohristians who seriously dislikes to see his Master discredited by obsolete trappings." Dean Mathews rejects the Atonement, lock, stock, and barrel, being grounded on the con- ception of God "under the form of a magnified Roman emperor." "We are still reading the New Testament under patterns made under -the Roman tradition." In our modern age "only an illiterate mind can be terrorized by the fear of the devil and of hell which nerved Thomas a Kempis, Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards. . .. J us- -tification was as definite as an acquittal in a royal court." But "these medieval notions do not belong in Jesus' teachings." Now, this thoroughly modernistic book is termed by the reviewer not only "a splendid piece of constructive thinking," but is welcomed as "a strong appeal to deliver Jesus' teaching concerning atonement from its medieval obscurantism." In the Lutheran of March 6, 1930, Brunner's Theology of Crisis is ''heartily recommended" by the reviewer, Professor Voigt. The reviewer has either failed to discover the fundamental errors of the Theology of Crisis (see OONOORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY, Vol. I, No.4), or he does not regard them as sufficiently serious to stand in -the way of a "hearty recommendation." The review does not contain .a word of caution or criticism. On the same page of the Lutheran, Dr. J. H. Horine of the Lutheran seminary at Oolumbia, S.O., favorably reviews the Schofield Reference Bible, and after stating 900 Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. that its standpoint "is traditional and not at all critical," he sums up his survey of the book as follows: "Many pages of the Biblical text are left without a word of comment. All in all, however, the material provided in this volume will be of l'eal service to the preacher, Sunday-school teacher, and general lay reader." Even the most superficial examination of the Schofield Reference Bible brings out its character as an elaborate piece of propaganda for the modern (Dispensationalist) chiliasm. The layman Mr. Philip Mauro, of Boston, has written a full exposure of the unevangelical and heretical nature of Dr. Schofield's system as contained in the notes of this Bible edition. The Lutheran reviewer recommends it to the clergy and the general lay reader. The same writer, in an editorial contributed to the Lutheran of August 1, 1929, discusses the doctrine of inspiration. Dr. Horine generalizes the idea of inspiration in a manner which leaves unan- swered the fundamental question, Have we inspired men only, or have we a uniquely inspired Book, containing God's thoughts and words, and only these? Even concerning the men, inspiration is made to include more than the unique task of composing the books which make up Holy Scripture: "There had been 'inspiration' for many 0ther servants of God besides them and long before them; and aftel' their peculiar task was finished and there was no longer need to receive and record a single word, 'inspiration' continued and continues, by the grace of God." More plainly still: "'Inspiration' by the Holy Spirit is not to be restricted to the act of composing and recording the Holy Scriptures and is not a thing of the past only. It is also a thing of the present; and if it should cease (which God forbid!), faith itself would cease and the kingdom of God in this world." The thesis of the entire article is that inspiration was and is not limited to the Holy Scriptures. The influence of Reformed thought in its fundamentalistic phase is as prominent in recent American Lutheran literature as the mod- ernistic strain. We have noted recently in our reviews of )Jt[ an in the Making by Drs. S. and M. Stine (Ohio Synod) the chiliastic views there propounded,-views that did not, however, prevent a Nor- wegian reviewer in the Lutheran Ohurch Herald (1930, p. 357) from saying: "The book will strengthen faith by answering many ques- tions in this our age of doubt and controversy." The other official organ of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, Lutheraneren, July 3, 1929, in an article contributed by Rev. N. Lunde, complains that "even our theological seminaries have not thoroughly treated the doctrine of Christ's second advent. Luther himself has not set forth this doctrine with sufficient thoroughness, and in loyalty to Luther many are unwilling to proceed farther than he did." The writer does not fear to go beyond Luther nor beyond Reformed Tendencies in Certain American Lutheran Churches. 901 the Seventeenth Article of the Augsburg Oonfession. He establishes a reign of a thousand years between the "first" and "second" resur" rection. Beacon Lights of Prophecy, by O. E. Lindberg, dean of Augustana Seminary at Rock Island (recently deceased), interprets both the Old and the New Testament with a chiliasm that stops just this side of actual date-setting. (See review in OONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY, 1930, p. 873 f.) The Lutheran Oompanion (Augustana Synod) has within recent years contained articles setting forth in its completeness the dis- pensationalistic teaching. To the issue of October 26, 1929, Graham Scroggie contributes an article on "Gentilic Prophecy." There is to be a visible reign of Ohrist on earth for a thousand years. "It is the common belief that the kingdom predictions of the Old Testa- ment are now being fulfilled by the spread of the Gospel and the Ohristianization of the world, and that the promised reign of Messiah is spiritual and not literal. Without hesitation I say that such a view is wholly inconsistent with sound principles of interpretation and cannot be defended. If words have any significance at all, Ohrist is coming back to this world, and coming to reign." "The millennial kingdom shall be founded on righteousness and characterized by peace; and the Messiah in that day shall be King over all the earth." "May we not expect far-reaching changes in the near future in the lives of nations and of individuals?" asks another writer in the same paper (October 5, 1929). The reestablishment of the Jewish state and of the Mosaic worship is expected in the near future. "That Israel will return to the Holy Land and rebuild its waste places is the concurrent testimony of the prophets. Much progress has been made, especially since the war, to favor this program of re- habilitation." "The establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine will mean the removal of the Mosque of Omar, which to-day is a Mohammedan center of worship. This mosque is to the Jews the 'abomination of desolation in the Holy Place.' Their desire is to cleanse the sanctuary and establish the old Mosaic worship of the true God. When this has been done and Jerusalem and the Holy Land has been restored to the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish theocracy will again have a place in the sun" (October 26, 1929). It is not my intention to make a compilation of all expressions containing modernistic and chiliastic views which have appeared in the various Lutheran organs in recent years. Enough has been quoted to justify the fear that 11'fodernism has eaten deeply into the theology of the United Lutheran Ohurch and that thoroughly un-Lutheran and unscriptural views dominate official teaching regarding the Last Things in that and in other bodies. The contact with Reformed churches is bearing bitter fruit. Are we using the proper safeguards against an incursion of 902 ~b~altung dnet @emeinbebifitation. the same tendencies into our own church-body? Do we realize that we have as much to fear from the flood of fundamentalist theology, with its platform of essential indifferentism and its perverted escha- tology, as from the enticements of evolutionistic Modernism? Do we read the religious literature of our day as truly critical scholars? Are we emulating the example of our fathers in their intense devotion to the study of the Scriptures? And are we earnestly endeavoring to realize the ideal of a soundly Lutheran literature, not only scholarly in its method and presentation, but comprehensive enough to cover the entire domain of theology and to supply every practical need for the Lutheran pastor? THEODORE GRAEBNER • . . ~ ~bijartuug duet GSemdubeuifitatiuu. (§in ?8ifitatot fjat mancfjetlei ®elegenfjeit, feine~ Wmte~ au roaden. SDa roitb alljafjtIicfj in feinem ~teife eine allgemeine ?8etfammlung bon merttetetn bet ®emeinben gefjarten, um iYinanafacfjen au befptecfjen unb aUt metteibung be~ @5lJnobalroetfe~ ilbetfjaupt au etmuntem. mei biefet metfammlung iff bet ?8ifita±ot bet iYilfjtet. (§t betuft fie ein, et leite± fie unb tut, roa~ et fann, um fie tecfjt frucfjtbat au macfjen. (§t nimmt femet bie ~onfetenaen, fonbetIicfj bie @5peaiaUonfetenaen feinet Wmt~::: btilbet, roafjt, um ein gu±e~ ~ort einaulegen. (§~ fome !Regel bei ifjm fein, baB et aUf biefen ~onfetenaen, roenn nicfjt etroa bet \{Stafe~ be~ SDifttift~ anroefenb iff unb e~ tut, einen meticfjt abf±attet. (SDie mtilbet fjaben e~ getn.) Woet aucfj oei anbetn ,8ufammenrunften, fei e~, baB Wmt§btilbet ifjn befucfjen obet baB et ifjnen einen mefucfj abf±atiet, fann et, ofjne baB et eine befonbete Wmt§miene aufauf±ecren braucfjt, fUt feine @5acfje ag ?8ifitatot teben. ,8uroeHen roitb ifjm aucfj eine Wufgabe bei einem \{StebigetroecfjfeI in feinem meattf. i1Hcfjt al~ 00 et ?8otfcfjriige filt ~iebetoefe~ung einet @5telle au macfjen fjat±e; ba~ iloetriiBt et bem ~tiife~ be~ SDifttm~; aoet et mag bom \{Stafe~ obet bom ?8afana::: ptebiget obet bon bet ®emeinbe angegangen roetben, Wu~funft au geben obet !Rat au erteHen. @50 mUB ein ?8ifitatot aucfj oft butcfj mtiefroecfjfel am±Hcfj tang fein. Wmt§otilbet obet ®emeinbegIiebet fcfjteiOen an ifjn unb etoitten ficfj mat. ZSa auroeHen roenbet ficfj aucfj ein ®emeinbegIieb fjintet hem !Jtiicren be~ \{saftOt~ an ifjn unb filfjrt eine ~lage. @5o unIieo ifjm nun ba~ aucfj iff, fo mUB et bocfj antroot±en unb Wnroeifung geoen, roie bie @5acfje aUf geotbnetem ~ege aUtecfjtauftellen ift. ®ana befonbet~ abet roitb bem ?8ifitatot ®elegenfjeit, feine~ Wmte~ au pfIegen, oei ben fogenannten ~itcfjenbifitationen. (§t ift baau oe::: tUfen, au bifitieten. SDafjet fjat et feinen Wamen. (§t foll, roo mogIicfj, innetljalo eine~ 5ttiennium~ aIle ®emeinben feine~ meaitf~ befucfjen. ~ie nun eine folcfje ?8ifitanon au fjaIten fei, batauf roollen roit je~t be~ genaueten eingeljen.