Full Text for CTM Theological Observer 13-8 (Text)

(!tuuror in ijJqrnlng· al itntttIJly Continuing LEHRE UND WEHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LuTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLy-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. xm August, 1942 No.8 Page Verbal Inspiration - a Stumbling-Block to the Jews and Foolish- ness to the Greeks. Th. £ng<:lder ...................................... .......... _ .. _ .. 561 Leading Thoughts on Eschatology in the Epistles to the Thessa- lonians. L. Fuerbringer .......................... .. ......................... __ ........... 591 The Principillnl Cognoscendi in Theology. W. H. T. Dan _._ .. _. ___ ... (,11 .. Outlmes on lh\: Vllcr 'temb, g Ellbll . : · ' ct '(ttl!> . Miscellanea ................... . " Theological Observer. - IGHlllich.Zeitgeschichtlith." _ ............. _ ....... 623 ook Review. - Liter 'I II' ................................................................... _ . 633 Ein Prediger muss nlcht alleln wei- den. also dass er die Schafe unter- weise. wle sle rechte Christen sollen aein. sondem auch daneben den Woel- fen tDehTen. dass e dIe "chafe nlcht w und m it al I:h~r Lebre ver- fuehren und Trrtum einfu en. Luthe-r Es 1st kein Ding. das die Leuie mehr bel der Kirche behaelt denn die gute Predigt. - Apologie. Art. 24 If the trunpet give an lCertain sound. who shall prepare hlm~t 1 to the battle? -1 COT. 14:B Published for the Ev. Lutb. S)"Uod of Missouri, Ohio, and Otber St. tcs CONCO I). PUBLlS NG HOUSE, St. Lou , Mo. Theological Observer - ,\l;itd)ncf)~.8eitgefc!)ic!)tHcf)e~ 623 Theological Observer - aitdjlidj~.8eitgefdjidjtlidje~ A Re-Appraisal of the Meaning of Lutheran Unity. - Under this heading Rev. Otto W. Heick (U. L. C. A., Ellis, Kansas) has published in The Lutheran Church QUa?·terly (XV, 2, April, 1942) an exhaustive analysis of the question of Lutheran Church union which, because of its conciliatory tone and consistent straightforwardness in the declaration of the writer's views, deserves careful consideration. The essay dis- cusses, in the main, two thoughts: (1) the problem of altar and pulpit fellowship, and (2) some of the doctrinal issues in the conflict between the Missouri and Iowa [?] Synods on the one hand, and the United Lutheran Church on the other. But just because of the author's frank expression of his opinions, the investigation brings out in strong relief (in so far as he really voices the views of his Church) the funda- mental difference between the U. L. C. A. and the Missouri Synod, not merely on the question of altar and pulpit fellowship of Lutherans with Calvinists, but on the whole doctrinal cleavage. To Missouri absolute and complete unity in doctrine is the goal to be striven for earnestly; to the U. L. C. A. it is enough merely to hold the Christian fundamentals. Missouri believes in a strict adherence to the Gales- burg Rule; the U. L. C. A., merely in its "discriminate application." We cull from the article a number of statements to illustrate the truth of these statements. As Pastor Heick says, the U. L. C. A. opposes "indiscriminate [italics in original] pulpit and altar fellowship with pastors and churches of other denominations, whereby doctrinal differences are ignored or virtually made matters of indifference" (Pittsburgh Agreement, endorsed at the Omaha Convention, 1940), while Missouri (Synodical Conference) opposes "this elastic application of the Galesburg Rule," insisting "that there cannot and shall not be any altar or pulpit fellowship with members of the Reformed faith; for the peculiarities of the Reformed Confessions are looked upon, not as a possible understanding of the Scriptures different from the Lutheran interpretation, but as a perversion of Scrip- tural truth." Pastor Heick does not favor "the rigid application of this principle." But does not Missouri (omitting the Scriptural phase of the question for the present) by its decisive stand in this matter represent historic Lutheranism, which has declared and published its condemnation not only of Romanistic, but also of Reformed error? Dare Lutherans who wish to be true to Scripture really regard "the peculiarities of the Reformed Confessions" merely as a "possible under- standing of the Scriptures different from the Lutheran interpretation"? H that principle holds, where shall the line be drawn in case of the heresies of Mormons, "Jehovah's Witnesses," and similar cults? Are they, too, not entitled to their "interpretations," and must not Lutherans respect them also? -Again, Pastor Heick says that the U. L. C. A. "acknowledges that any group which accepts the Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism as its doctrinal basis is entitled to the name Luthemn and worthy of unrestricted fellowship." But what if 624 Tl Lutherans, accepting these two Confessions as their "doctrinal basis," deny essential doctrines of Scripture? Or, suppose that in principle they receive these Confessions, while in reality they hold and defend opposing doctrines? Shall in that case "unrestricted fellowship" con- tinue nevertheless? Not the Augsburg Confession, not Luther's Cate- chism, but Scripture, in the final analysis, is the foundation upon which true unity in faith rests. - Pastor Heick, moreover, disapproves of "the position of the Missouri Synod which holds that the name Lutheran requires unreserved subscription to the whole Book of Concord" and that "the theology of Missouri aims to be a theology of the Formula of Concord." Two historical inaccuracies are involved in this presenta- tion; for Missouri regards as Lutherans also those who accept as their doctrinal basis only the two Confessions named, though it maintains that their stand is inconsistent, since the theology of the Confessions in the Book of Concord is a doctrinal unit, for which reason also the theology of Missouri does not aim to be that only of the Formula of Concord, but of all the Confessions in the Concordia. But overlooking these his- torical inaccuracies, let us ask: Why should there be so much opposition on the part of some Lutherans to receive as authoritative also the Formula of Concord? Is not the Formula of Concord doctrinally in full accord with the Augsburg Confession? Or, speaking historically: Has not confessing Lutheranism after Luther's death by its very publication of the Book of Concord established the fact that this "most theological Confession" (and this Confession above all) sets forth the true Lutheran doctrine in opposition to Romanism, Calvinism, and sectarianism? What of it if for political and other subiective reasons certain Lutheran groups have not subscribed to the Formula of Concord? That certainly does not make the Formula of Concord less authoritative. - Further- more, Pastor Heick urges fellowship with the Reformed on the ground of the una sancta, deploring that "there is in the eyes of Missouri no way of establishing or even demonstrating unity of faith with a large number of true Christians so long as they remain within the Reformed denominations." He writes: "While such unity, as they hold, is a spiritual fact, it cannot be made outwardly visible so long as false doctrine prevails in the Church." He forgets, however, that the una sancta is not the visible Christian Church on earth, but the ecclesia invisibilis, or the communio sanctorum. If heterodox visible churches profess error, orthodox visible churches, mindful of the many Scripture warnings against unionism, must avoid them. In this matter the Word of God leaves them no other choice. We cannot understand how any Lutheran theologian can be blind to this Christian duty. Nor can we understand why the writer should say that "when these theologians [Missouri] speak of false doctrine, they, of course, assume that their own interpretation of the Bible is absolutely free from error." Is Lu~ theran teaching merely a matter of "Bible interpretation"? Do we Lutherans oppose to the Reformed errors mere subiective views or private interpretations? Do we not rather stand on clear declarations of God's Word which are unmistakable and decisive? Certainly, a Chris- tian pastor is neither true to God, nor to himself, nor to Scripture, nor to the souls entrusted to his care, if he regards the sacred doctrines 625 of his Church merely as so many "interpretations," which may be right or wrong. But we cannot discuss the entire article and all its incorrect and misleading statements. We are sure that Pastor Heick is not aware of the conclusions which needs must follow from his premises, namely, willful rejection of God's Word, doctrinal indifferentism and crass unionism. His treatise favors a unionistic form of Lutheranism, which earnest Christia.'1S certainly must reject. In reading the article, we were favorably impressed, however, with the writer's accuracy in frequently stating historical facts, even if these did not coincide with his own views. The position of the American Lutheran Church, and especially that of Dr. Reu, for example, is correctly presented, even when the author is obliged to quote so eminent a theologian against himself. But he goes too far when he speaks of Missouri's refusal to co-operate with dissenting Lutheran Synods in externis. As Dr. W. Arndt says (C. T. M., April, 1942, p. 305): "With respect to purely external matters there is some co-operation or co-ordination even now." We may add that there might be still more co-operation in external matters, though here also Dr. Arndt's warning applies: "The difficulty is that at times the line between purely external matters and matters involving fellowship is extremely difficult to draw" (Ibid.). We believe also that Pastor Heick overstates the case when in his discussion of the predestination con- troversy he says: "It was far above the ordinary pastor and congrega- tion to pass an intelligent judgment on the exceedingly subtle definitions that were drawn up in this controversy." On the contrary, the basic questions at issue in that prolonged controversy were always very clear and were presented in sufficiently lucid language even in the various Missouri synodical essays. Men like Dr. Walther, Pastor F. Kuegele and, above all, Dr. F. Pieper were veritable masters in presenting the con- troverted questions in popular parlance to the common people. - What Pastor Heick writes of the Antichrist is diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Smalcald Articles and certainly does not clarify the issue at all. The "antichrists" of 1 John 2: 18, it is true, embrace many errorists and enemies of the Church, but the Antichrist is a definite false prophet who cannot be distributed among various heretics. He cannot be, for example, Nero, Domitian, the Pope, the Turk, Lenin, Hitler, "Democracy," the "social gospel" all in one, as the writer claims. His view on this matter ultimately leads to utter confusion. Nor is it true that Luther regarded the Pope and the Turk alike as the Antichrist. At times, it must be admitted, Luther has a somewhat indefinite way of speaking; but his most definite declaration that the Pope is the very Antichrist (Triglot, p. 475) proves beyond a doubt what position on this point Luther held as early as 1537 (and certainly even before that). - Pastor Heick's view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture is pain- fully disappointing. If his attitude toward Scripture is accepted as normative in Lutheran circles, Scripture will be far less a rule of faith in the Lutheran Church than it is in the Church of Rome.- The writer closes his essay with the remark that "unity will not be achieved by drawing up new resolutions and adopting statements, declarations and agreements." This may be true as long as Lutherans 40 626 Theological Obs