A pastor did a comparison of catechisms today in preparing for a lesson on the Third Article (I believe in....the forgiveness of sins). He has a number of catechisms [Luther's obviously being the one and only] on his shelves. He was interested if there were any shifts in the presentation of material [questions, selection of supporting passages, phraseology) between the WELS "Gausewitz"(Copyright 1956) and the WELS "Kuske" (Copyright 1982, 1989, 1998). In the following K=Kuske, G= Gausewitz. The "#'s" refer to the respective editions. His comments are in [ ].
His reason for doing the comparison is that the Gausewitz version was the catechism used for his own confirmation classes in the early-mid 1970's. However, the Kuske version has been the official one since the early 1980's. That means a majority of the current WELS pastors who still teach catechism would have used the Kuske version. If they are younger WELS pastors, they would themselves have been instructed along its line, maybe never knowing anything at all about the Gausewitz.
Kuske 253. How many people did God declare righteous? God declared all people righteous. (objective justification) [2 Corinthians 5:19 is offered as a proof passage but not Romans 3:28]
Gausewitz 261. To whom does God forgive sins? God forgives sins to me and all believers. [Romans 3:21-28 is cited as a Scripture reference; Romans 3:28; Romans 10:4 is cited as the Scripture passages. He underlined the divergence between the two. This clearly proves a stated shift. Also note how Gausewitz sticks to Luther's phrasing in the answer.]
Kuske 255. Why is it important, then, that the Holy Spirit work faith in me? It is important that the Holy Spirit work faith in me so that I do not trust in my own works but only in the righteousness God gives me by grace in Christ. (subjective justification)
Gausewitz 260 Why do we say that the Holy Ghost forgives sins, whereas we are made righteous before God through the redemption of Christ? The Holy Ghost brings the righteousness of Christ to us by the Gospel and gives us the faith to believe it. [Note that "the righteousness of Christ" is linked with "the faith to believe it." The two are not bifurcated and isolated, by default, from each other.]
Gausewitz 262. Where are sins forgiven? Sins are forgiven in the Christian Church on earth. (Ministry of the Keys)
[No similar question is asked in the Kuske catechism. In the UOJ scheme, there is salvation outside the Christian Church? Yes, and apart from the Means of Grace entrusted to the Church!]
Gausewitz 263. Why do we say, In the Christian Church on earth? We say this because Christ has given the Gospel to His Church on earth; in the Gospel we have the forgiveness of sins.
[No similar question is asked in the Kuske catechism. In the Gospel, then necessarily implies through the Means by which it is conveyed. Massive, airy universal absolutions apart from the Means rob them of the grace God intends to give through them. Therefore, our confidence of salvation would be divorced from the very Means of Grace God intends to use to create and sustain "justifying faith" as the Confessions put it.]
The above quotations are proof of a discernible shift in WELS catechisms.
GJ - Many people are doing research about this topic. This is an excellent example of what many of us suspect - that the UOJ position of WELS hardened and began to dominate. Departures like this are difficult to trace, but WELS members and pastors can figure this out.
The Gausewitz catechism was the normal version for a long time. As I recall from an essay by Slide, it had all the correct attributes for a WELS catechism.
When the new Kuske catechism came out, WELS made that the normative version, and WELS pastors tend to be robotic in accepting new improved whatevers, like the 100 proof hymnal from James P. Tiefel.
See if you can find a Gausewitz and do your own comparison with Kuske. Comments are most welcome.
This is why I have never used a catechism except Luther's own. I do not like Talmudic editions with hundreds of questions and answers. Like the original Talmud, they can be used to obscure the Word of God in the name of teaching it.
WELS pastors have shown repeatedly that they do not grasp the meaning of the Eighth Commandment, how it applies to their own behavior, how it does not apply to addressing false doctrine.
I noticed in reading the new book that the Seminex crowd liked crying Eighth Commandment too. WELS leaders like to brag about how superior they are to Missouri, but they have used the same dishonest or ignorant tactics to advance their own false doctrine.