Full Text for CTM Brief Studies 21-2 (Text)

REC'D r~ ~. ( Concou()ia Theological· Monthly FEBRUARY • 1950 BRIEF STUDIES THE FUNCTION OF THE LAW IN CHRISTIAN PREACHING Article V of the Formula of Concord admonishes us to guard with diligent care "the distinction between Law and Gospel as a special brilliant light." Law and Gospel are mingled when the Gospel is viewed as a continuation of the Law, whereby the Gospel is made a "new law." This is the danger to which those theologians are exposed who place a false emphasis on subjectivism in theology and endeavor to gauge the state of grace by the degree of their sanctification. This invariably leads to activism, a servile subservience to the Law, which is mistaken for Christian activity. Or Law and Gospel are mingled when the Christian liberty from the Law (1 Tim. 1: 9) is presented as though the Christian were already completely regenerated and required no preaching of the Law at all. This occurs when Christians. on the basis of a false application of sola gratia, ignore the earnest admoni­tions to crucify the old man. It is true that man can neither add to nor detract from the promises of God's grace, for they are and remain an objective reality regardless of man's attirude. But objectivity of the Gospel dare never be made the basis for a kind of quietism which sees in the Gospel primarily a soft pillow on which the lazy Christian can slumber securely. Antinomianism is in reality a false anticipation of the future glory and will inevitably lead to antigospelism. It is therefore essential for the theologian to maintain at all times the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, and this implies that he has a clear understanding of the two doctrines both in their antithesis and in their conjunction. I Wherever Reformed theology with its emphasis on subjectivism and Lutheran theology with its emphasis on objectivism meet, the doctrine concerning the proper distinction of Law and Gospel immediately be­comes a major issue. This has become evident on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years, especially in Europe, where the contacts be­tween Reformed and Lutheran theologians are more frequent and closer than in America, at least until quite recently. This accounts in part for the current interest among European theologians in a re-srudy of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Walther's Gesetz und Evangelium hardly caused a ripple outside of the Lutheran Church in America, and even the English translation by Dr. Dau in 1929 received 123 124 BRIEF STUDIES scant notice. In Europe, however, where several thousand copies of Walther's book were distributed since the war, it has been hailed as a very relevant book. Among the several studies on this important doctrine the most recent is presented by Lic. Ernst Kinder,! instructor of Systematic Theology at the Augustana-Hochschttle in Neuen­dette!sau, editor of the Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung and essayist at the Bad Boll Free Conferences in 1948 and 1949. While the presentation at times is somewhat abstract and the German will prove difficult for the younger Lutheran parson, Kinder's study deserves careful attention. Since the subject matter is so relevant for the Lu­theran pastor in the proper application of Law and Gospel to himself and to his parishioners, we have expanded the customary book review into a review article. Kinder presents the problem of Law and Gospel from the view­point of the Cross, i. e., from the entire atoning work of Christ as the center of God's dealing with man. He states that Law and Gospel are not two metaphysical concepts, twO dialectical ideas, or twO psycholog­ical categories more or less unrelated to each other, but rather "the cross with its two arms," which ~ii. '\::l,SS-LfUSS" fashion (sich ueber­kret~zend) contains both the preaching of the Law and the proclama­tion of the Gospel. Only the Cross can give to both Law and Gospel their proper cogency and relevance. Only the Cross can establish the proper relation between the opus alienu1IZ (revelation of God's wrath) and opus proprittm (the proclamation of God's pardon). Apart from the Cross the opus alienum stands as an insoluble paradox to the opus proprium (pp. 5-12).2 This presentation may seem somewhat novel to American Lutherans, though the Formula of Concord in Article V uses a similar approach when in the exposition of God's opus alienttm it adduces Luther's ser­mon for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity as an illustration that the preaching of the Cross is the most terrible declaration of God's wrath (Trigl.) 955). It is certainly true, that the Cross shows us clearly both what man really is and what God has done to save man from his lost 1 Gottes Gebote und Golfes Gnatle im Wort vom Kreitz. Von Ernst Kinder. Verlag des Evangelischen Pressverbandes fuer Baiern in Muenchen. (No.7 of the Kirchlich.theologische He/Ie.) 73 Seiten 6Y2x9. Preis: DM. 1.50. 2 Werner Elert in his recent publication: Zwischen Gnade und Ungnade presents the relation of Law and Gospel in similar terminology. Cf. also his dogmatics Det" Chrislliche Glaftbe, s. v. Gesetz fmd EvangeJium, especially p. 171: "Gesetz und Evangelium stehen also under der Anwendung der Kate­gorie dec Offenbarung in dialektischem Verhaeltnis. Wenn das eine offenbart, wird das andere verhueUt; und wenn das zweite aufleuchtet, wird das erste dunkel." BRIEF STUDIES 125 condition. But the reason for the Germans' emphasis of the view that the Cross is both Law and Gospel is intended as the answer to the question: Which is the usus praecipuus of the Law; ums elenchticus as in Lutheranism or usus normativus as in Calvinism? The answer to this question will determine whether the theologian can properly dis­tinguish between Law and GospeL It is Kinder's interest to set forth clearly that this difference is one of the most relevant questions con­fronting the Lutheran Church today. II The charge has been raised against European (and American) Lutheranism that it has failed to speak the decisive word in all the recent world-shaking developments. The chief reason for the Lutheran Church's alleged failure is said to be the indissoluble conjunction which Lutherans have established between Law and Gospel and theif insistence that the Law as well as the Gospel is to be preached only for soteriolog­ical purposes. In Ecumenical theology as well as in Barthian theology ~ Law and Gospel are presented in relation, not primarily to justification, Due LV ~"l1LliliL",ivn, more specifically as to their contribution in solving rhe social problem, a responsibility which is said to rest upon the Church no less than upon the State. In his encounter with Calvinistic theology the Lutheran is therefore confronted with the question: Must the Lutheran pastor preach Law and Gospel only soteriologically or may he do so also sociologically? Since the unbelieving world will not accept the Gospel, should the Church not feel constrained to preach at least "one half" of its message, the Law in its USttS normativus? The Lu­theran must answer that it is impossible so to divide and compart­mentalize Law and Gospel, whereby the chief and the only purpose of the Law is denied (p. 14). The manner in which a person views the Law and Gospel indicates where his chief theological interest lies. If Law and Gospel are no longer viewed Christologically and soteriologicalIy, then the entire Christian proclamation concerns itself no longer with the docrrine of justification, and a natural theology has taken the place of the Gospel. If the Law were an independent and self-existing entity, the natural man could quite readily and joyously preach the Law. But shall we defend the right of the Church's existence in the world by becoming engrossed in a secularistic program in which Christ is no longer the 3 On Ecumenical Theology see Vol. II of Man's Disorder and God's DeJign. On Dialectical Theology see K. Barth: Recht/ertigung und Recht; Christen­gemeinde und Buergergemeinde; H. Diem: EvangeUttm tmd Gesetz. 126 BRIEF STUDIES center? Shall we adopt a program which fails to evaluate the chief function of the Law in the light of the Cross only because it appeals to the natural man? (P. 21.) Dialectical theology seems to make much of the difference between Law and Gospel, for the very essence of dialec­tics is the paradox. But, strange as it may seem, dialectical theology has practically eliminated the dialectic between Law and Gospel, by viewing the Gospel only as the correlative of the Law. Thus dialectical theology has no dialectic in the content, but only in the form, and there is in reality not dialectic at all. If Luther frequently calls reason the "whore," then this must apply to reason in its most tantalizing and cunning form, in dialectics. "Denn mit der Dialektik laesst sich wirklich alles machen." A theologia crucis, however, is truly a dialectical the­ology, for it takes seriously the paradox which Kinder puts into this aphorism: Gott gegeo Gott fuer den Menschen; der gnaedige Gott gegen den zornigen Gott uns zugute. (Ibid.) Neo-Orthodoxy, also some Neo-Lutherans, seemingly forget that God is the Author both of the verdict which condemns all and of the pardon which frees us aU. And both truths are not only presented paradoxically in the message of the Cross, but are also solved cbere, amI only rhere. All our rheolog­ical thinking must constantly emanate from the Cross and remain under the Cross. Then we shall maintain the distinction between God's opus alienum and proprium. This distinction is the brilliant light which was brought forth in the Reformation. In Roman theology the Cross is viewed as a capstone, not as the foundation stone, of theology, for Rome starts with natural philosophy on which it erects theology only as a superstructure. The Cross is only the final deduction which the theologian has made on the basis of alleged premises (p. 27). But a theology which considers the Cross merely as the solution of the various problems in theology will also find the solution without the Cross. Only the Word of the Cross as the starting point of our theology can lead us out of the straits and despair.4 At this point Kinder in our opinion overstates his thesis. He maintains that only then is the Law really preached in its true revelatory character when it is brought into relation with a sin-con­quering power. "Nur das hat offenbarende Wirkung, was tendenz­gebend staerker als Suende ist, was suendenvergebende Kraft hat" (p.32). We must, however, keep in mind, that the so-called tuttS 4 Despair is an inadequate translation for the German Angst. If memory serves me correctly, Kirkegaard somewhere states that Angst is derived from Enge, and when so used, Angst does justice to the sinner's anxious (aengstlich) cry: "W 0 solt ich fiiehen hin?" BRIEF STUDIES 127 paedagogicttf, juSt as the usus elenchticus, is still the opus alienum. It is Deus propter peccata damnans in order that man may see the true character of sin and the absolute need of redemption.G It seems that Kinder has this in mind, for he directs himself against such teaching as transforms the message of the Cross into a theologia gloriae, forgetting that the Christian always remains under the Word of the Cross with its "Yes" and "No," with its curse and pardon. When Rome ascribes an independent value to the Law and views the "Gospel" only as a complement, or when the "enthusiasts" make the Law the source of good works, both have reduced the message of the Cross to a natural theology. The paradox between the "Yes" and "No" is completely obliterated. When man does not learn to know sin "from the Cross," he not only does not know God, but what is worse, he knows Him falsely (p. 51 ff.). Kinder's concern is to show that the ttSus praecipuus of the Law is to reveal the wrath of God and to convict the sinner of the justice of God's verdict (p. 56 f.). And that must be the concern of every Lutheran pastor. III This raise.; .111: llilpO!lam ques{iun as ro the piace and sigmncance of the so-called third use of the Law, usus normativus. The superscrip­tion of Article VI of the Formula of Concord reads: "Of the Third Use of the Law." The title is misleading. This article is directed against Poach and Otto, who said that the Law has no place whatsoever in preaching to Christians. The article, therefore, sets forth that in so far as the Christian still has the old man, he requires the preaching of the Law as a curb, a mirror, and a rule. The third use of the Law is not for the new man in the Christian, but for the old man who has rather peculiar notions as to the nature of truly God-pleasing works. The ltSUS normativus may be said to be a negative factor in the Christian's new obedience, lest "they hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self­chosen worship." Article VI specifically states that the Law cannot stimulate and produce good works, but ln its so-called third use is to serve as a restraint on the Christian's old Adam from going his own way. Since it is, of course, impossible to dissect the Christian biologi­cally into the old and the new man, the pastor will constantly preach the Law to the Christian's total personality in its so-called three uses. It is the concern of German theologians to show that there is a ij Cf. Pieper, Christliche Dogmatlk, III, 280. The Greek "schoolmaster" in Gal. 3:23 f. was not the teacher, but the servant who kept the son from going astray. Even as "rhe schoolmaster" the Law can bring the sinner only to the brink of hell. 128 BRIEF STUDIES diametrically different view concerning the third use of the Law be­tween Lutherans and Calvinists. Werner Elett in a recent study 6 shows that Luther never used the term US1tS tertius. The concluding statement of Luther's second disputation against the Antinomians (1538, re­printed in Historical Introductions to the Triglot, p.164) seemingly attributes to Luther the use of this phrase. Textual criticism, however, has shown that the section containing the description of the three uses of the Law is an interpolation. Only two of the nine rescripts contain the statement. The paragraphs in question agree almost ver­batim with Me1anchthon's Loci, who introduced the term tertius ttSUS into Lutheran theology. According to Luther, and also according to the Melanchthon of the Apology, lex SEMPER accusat, and the Law is given to the Christian only in so far as he is still sarx. Even for the Christian the Law is never merely informative, but always retains its condemna­tory character. -In Calvinism, however, usus tertius is made the chief purpose of the Law. Professor Elen claims that Calvin did this con­sciously and in direct opposition to Lutheran theology, for according to the lmtitutes (II, vii, 13) and the Geneva Confession (1536) the main function of the bw is to bring men to realize their obligation of obedience to their sovereign Lord. The only difference in the ap­plication of the Law to unbelievers and believers is that the latter are redeemed from the curse of the Law. Calvin holds that even the Gospel is subject to the final regulation of the Law, since the Gospel does not introduce a new way of salvation, but ratifies what the Law has already promised us. The Gospel differs from the Law only in the clarity with which it is manifested. Barth has accepted this view and speaks of the Gospel as the continuation of the Law in the New Testament. There is, as Elert points out, a diametrical difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism. In the latter the Law stands at the center of theology; in Lutheranism Law and Gospel are always opposed to each other. Lu­theran theology is dialectical in the true sense, while the dialectics of Batthian Calvinism is only verbal. The difference between the two theologies comes to the surface particularly in the Church-State relation­ship. Lutherans teach that since the Law can only condemn, it must be proclaimed as the judgment of the world and not for world better­ment. In Calvinistic theology the Church is expected to speak to the world by holding up to it in the name of Christ the Law of God as the only rule of life. It is typically Calvinistic to say that the Kingdom of God can be ushered in by waging wars. 6 Tef'tius usus legis in der luthef'ischen Theologie? in Zwischen Gnade und Ungnade (p. 161 f.). Reprinted in the Lflthet'an Wodd Review, January, 1949. BRIEF STUDIES 129 In his essay, Kinder follows a similar line of argument and shows that any attempt to make the third use of he Law its usus praecipttfu is in the final analysis an attempt to secularize the Gospel. Only a theology which is oriented in the sovereignty of God can make the usus tertittS the usus praecipuus. Neither in its first use as a curb nor in its third use as a norm is the Law, properly speaking, the Law, for in neither of these two uses does the Law function as that divine revelation which demands, threatens, and convicts the sinner. That is done only in the second use (p. 57). Kinder therefore rightly insists that the Church has no right to preach the Law for any other purpose than the usus praecipuus, that is, "from the Cross of Christ," in relation to the Church's entire proclamation. Preaching the Law merely as Law does not tell mankind anything new, since men know this from their reason and from history. The Church does not have the duty to prescribe new laws. And since the Church has no authority to preach the Law as an end in itself, it will accomplish nothing by such a mes­sage Let us not be deceived to fall into the temptation as though we want ro approximate the theology of (he world which is orientated in a this-worldly viewpoint! (Pp.61-64.) The Law is preached cor­rectly when we keep in mind that, as Luther said, nothing is more intimately related than the wrath and the grace of God. In the light of the Cross, Law and Gospel cannot be viewed as prior or posterior to one another, but always as indissolubly joined together. In that same light, however, Law and Gospel, though indissolubly conjoined, will be preached unmixed and unmingled (p. 69 f.). This is what Kinder means when he speaks of "die Durchkreuzung des Gesetzes und Evangeliums." "Die Gottesfrage und die Menschheitsfrage werden im Kreuz Jesu Christi kreuzweise mit einander und aneinander aufge-rissen und beantwortet zugleich" (p. 10). F. E. MAYER EZRA'S BIBLE SCHOOL Nehemiah 8-10 The emphasis during several past decades on adult education, also within the Church, has ample Scriptural warrant. For instance, a study of the New Testament word teleios (as in James 3:2; Matt. 19:21; Col. 4:12; 1 Cor. 14:20; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 5:14) indicates that the Lord expects a maturing process and then a workable and working maturity on the part of adults. The example from the Old Testament gives us a glimpse of how Ezra conducted a project in adult education with good results. It illustrates again the old adage: Where there's a will, there's a way. 9 130 BRIEF STUDIES A. Organization: 1. The Bible C01zterence 1. Time: The Civil New Year. 2. Meeting place: Public square near subterranean water galleries by Ophel. 3. Superintendent: Ezra, the learned doctor of priestly descent. 4. Faculty: Thirteen instructors and their assistants, the Levites. 5. Enrollment: ".Men and women and all that could hear with un-derstanding." 6. Attendance: "All the people ... as one man." B. Nature of Activities: 1. Devotional Service: Conference began with solemn prayer, to which the people responded with "Amen, Amen" and reverent gestures and posture. 2. Ezra: Reading God's Word from parchment roll, from platform. 3. Assistance and relief from reading by thirteen instructors. 4. Sectional conferences, where read portions were explained to smaller groups by the thirteen and their assistams. C. Attitude of People: "Ears of all were attentive." D. Results: 1. The people welcomed and accepted the instruction. 2. The people grieved over their national and personal sins. 3. The people repented in sincerity. 4. The people reverently supplicated and adored God. 5. The people obeyed and acted. 6. The people rejoiced with holy joy. 7. The people were filled with strength to do God's will. Il. The Teachers' Meeting A. Aim: To study the Word assiduously and more intensively. B. Instructor: Ezra, the superintendent and leader. C. Students: 1. The chief of the fathers of all people. 2. The priests. 3. The religious teachers called Levites. D. Results: 1. Better knowledge of divine Word and church practice. 2. Enthusiastic celebration over their religious blessings. 3. "And there was great gladness." BRIEF STUDIES lll. The Eight-Day Bible Institute A. Course of Smdy and Text: "The Book of the Law of God." B. The Closing Day: Solemn convocation with impressive rites. C. Results: 1. Deep smdy of God's Word. 2. A day of prayer and penitence. 3. Confession of oppormnities neglected and sins committed. 4. Joy over God's dwelling again in hearts of His people. S. Social reform -as in the case of mixed marriages. 131 6. Civil reforms -as in the matter of debts, fallow land, temple tax for upkeep of the sanctuary. 7. Religious reforms: Keeping festivals and Sabbaths, bringing vol­untary gifts and "the tithes of our ground." 8. Eighty-three family heads subscribing a written document pledg­ing them to keep covenant with God. 9. Material success and prosperity. 10. Preparation for the coming Messiah. Applicati01z In this endeavor we observe: First, a holy courage in the face of obstinate obstacles, such as Growing hatred of the Church (secret strategies against it, open enmity, rude jesting, veiled threats); Terrible economic and social conditions (usury, divorce, broken homes, low views of chastity, labor-capital strife, hard times, shortages of food, hard credit, mortgages and taxes, political unrest in Syria and Persia) ; Terrific misbelief (as today, an era of religious syncretism, pagan cultism, modernist priests, hypocritical worship, low views of ministry, pride of self-esteem, work-righteousness) ; Tentacles of indifference in the congregation (neglect of Sabbath, poor financial rating, the finest of everything for private comforts in new homes "while the church can wait" -even leaders guilty; sac­rifices cheap in quality; lack of discipline among erring and sinning) ; Ezra had a job before which even a stout heart would quail; yet he tackled it with a fervor worthy of wider imitation nowadays. Let us not be broken in spirit. (Cf. Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi on above obstacles.) Second, an illustration of progressive attitudes and methods 24 centuries ago, in an era of decline. 132 BRIEF STUDIES Ezra might have said: "We'll hope and pray." If oldsters would prefer to reminisce on the good old days and even shed a few tears over the departed glory, not Ezra; he would offer a constructive, for­ward-looking program to build his people in the faith and right viewpoints. Third, a pattern of emphasis. Note that the W O1'd of God is stressed. Ezra refused to twist time­honored doctrines, interpretations, and applications to fit liberalizing trends. And nothing is mentioned about entertainments to "hold the people." In fact, how the vast throng was housed and fed during those days receives no allusion. Fourth, an example of meeting a situation. Ezra does not excuse or postpone "due to locai circumstances," but creates wholesome circumstances himself; does not wait until his fiscal office advances a good idea only to pick it apart, but has an idea him­self and goes ahead with it. The local congregation is still the key in the Kingdom. There is no regimentation from the top down. Now, if your parish i~ a cross section of normal persons, you no doubt have "situations" galore: neglect or spasmodic attention to the means of grace; Communion averages below Luther's mark, where Christianity leaves off and paganism begins; begging and clubbing methods in finances; the attitude by parents of doing you personal service by send­ing their youngsters to your school; et cetera. Are you doing something about such problems? Doing something to magnify the Word and Christian life is better than moaning. Have an idea and go ahead with it. Meet your situation as you have been called to do. Don't wait for official machinery to push you. With your Lutheran doctrinal treasures and your present physical setup, start meeting your particular situation now. Ezra did, and the Church profited. Blue Hill, Nebr. VICTOR C. FRANK BASIC BOOKS FOR THE EXEGETE We submit a partial list of books now available for Old and New Testament studies. The books may be ordered through Concordia Publishing House. Biblia Hebraica, Rudolf Kittel, American Bible Society, New York. Novum Testamentum Graece, Eberhard Nestle, 19th edition, Privile-gierte Wuerttembergische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart, Germany. Septuaginta, Alfred Rahlfs, two volumes, Privilegierte Wuerttem­bergische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart, Germany. BRIEF STUDIES 133 Hebrew-German-English Lexicon, Ludwig Koehler, E. J. Brill, Leiden, Holland; only the first installment for the present, but the others will soon follow. (The Hebrew-English Lexicon by Brown-Driver­Briggs in a revised form, ready in 1939, was held up by the war and should soon appear; it seems to be a work done quite independ­ently from the Koehler dictionary across the channel.) Theologisches If/oerte'rbuch, Gerhard Kittel, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart, Germany. The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, Moulton and Milligan, 1949, Hodder and Stoughton, Limited, London (for a little more than half the price charged by American firms) . Netttestamentliche Grammatik, Blass und Debrunner, 1943, Vanden­hoeck & Ruprecht, Goettingen, Germany. A Grammar of New Testament Greek, James H. Moulton, 1949, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. ~1postotic Fat!;€rJ, two volumes. Kirsopp Lake, Loeb Classical Libraty. Harvard TTniver~ity Pre5s, Camhridge, Ma,,3.hnsett5 Bible and Spade, S. 1. Caiger, Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, London. Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary on the whole Old Testament is now available from Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 3, Mich., at $3.50 a volume, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, may be slow in coming. Get Leupold's commentary on Genesis and Daniel, and all the rest in Keil-Delitzsch, and you'll have the best there is on the Old Testament. The following important books will soon appear on the marker: Concordance to the Greek Testament, W. F. Moulton-being reprinted. The Four Gospels, B. H. Streeter -being reprinted. EusebiltS, Volume I, Loeb Classical Library -in the binding. The International Critical Commentary on Kings by the late J. A. Mont­gomery (who also did the volume on Daniel) may soon be expected. Dr. Bowman of the Chicago University is submitting his commentary on Ezra and Nehemiah to the printer this year; his Aramaic gram­mar is half done. St. Louis, Mo. W.F.BECK