Thursday, January 27, 2011

LCMS Pastor Vernon Harley - Acknowledging the Opposition

The Thankful Man, by Norma Boeckler


I met Pastor Harley and his wife, around 1998, in Fairmont. He is with his Savior now.

I had a chance to look at his writing as I re-worked the format on his articles. He is an ideal writer, especially for someone dealing in theological topics. He teaches the Scriptures much better than the seminary professors.

First of all, he acknowledges the opposing argument and presents it fairly. The UOJ writers never do this. They ignore and refuse to name anyone who disagrees with them. Worse, they construct one straw man logical fallacy after another and heroically knock it down. Those anonymous people who teach justification by faith are "synergists" and "Calvinists." Their "faith is in faith." They "stab the Gospel in the heart." The UOJ fanatics never support their accusations with citations from the opposition. I dare readers to go through the list of UOJ essays and find one author who does this - the most elementary of all theological methods.

Paul acknowledged the opposition with his "God forbid" responses, not to mention many other examples throughout his epistles.

Pastor Harley wrote, "This is what they claim" and quoted the opponents with the citation. Anyone can find the complete essay. Moreover, he is fair in his assessment.

Logical fallacies do not exist alone. A weak argumentation is always short on facts, research, and citations, but long on personal attacks - the ad hominem. The idea behind yelling "Synergist!" and "Calvinist!" is to reduce the opposition to unworthy slime not worthy of a serious reply. Both terms are used properly when supported. Pastor Harley carefully pointed out what synergist means and how that term fits UOJ so well.

Pastor Harley's style reminds me of other old-time LCMS pastors, and traditional WELS pastors too. I mentioned Pastor Lehenbauer to someone recently and learned he was still alive, retired. I remember him describing a conflict and his calm response to it, not bragging at all, just describing how he handled it. Harley's writing is like that - calmly addressing the issues.

I challenge the UOJ Stormtroopers to follow Pastor Harley's example and deal with the actual issues, instead of citing the same old talking points. Readers - look over the citations in a UOJ essay. You will see from the footnotes that they endlessly recycle unwarranted claims about their precious fad, from:
1. C. F. W. Walther.
2. Stoeckhardt.
3. Engelder.
4. Eduard Preuss, who became a Roman Catholic theologian - a fact never mentioned in the quotation.
5. The early Robert Preus, during his Church Growth phase, not the final work of the theologian.
6. Luther, when he wrote about the chief article of the Faith, but never admitting that he meant justification by faith, not UOJ.

Now WELS has an ever-growing pile of UOJ essays stored in their anointed WELS Essays File. They can--and do!--cite one another, like pot smokers inhaling the thick haze in the room while admiring their own drug-fueled wisdom.
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