The Glory Has Departed

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Zorro - On UOJ and Catechism

It is mainly a gang of three: The Erlangen School of Theology by Lowell Green; an entry by Otto Heick in J. Bodensieck's The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church; Heick's A History of Christian Thought.

What follows is a quote from the Heick entry in Bodensieck (volume 1, pp. 164-165, The Lutheran Awakening ): The anti-nomistic tendencies of Grundtvigianism were shared by a movement named after the Danish island of Bornholm on which, for a time, it gained a special foothold(P.C.→Trandberg, who later moved to Chicago, →Rosenius, →Hedberg; v.i.). The theology of these men is marked by a one-sided emphasis on the Gospel of free grace. They practically identified reconciliation and justification, "The world is justified in Christ" (objective justification).

Green's volume is of value inasmuch as it sketches the emphases of a number of 19th century continental theologians. Some of the names pop up from time to time in citations by Hoenecke, F. Pieper, Walther, et al. Many of the men cited by the "synodical fathers" emerged, some more successfully than others, from rationalism yet had a hard time freeing themselves of Reformed suppositions(e.g., visible/invisible church). Some had to fight pitched battles and were it not for their study of the Confessions would have lurched even further backwards. Germs of thought were transmitted generationally. Some for the better, others for the worse.

Referring to Karl Adolf Gerhard von Zezschwitz (1825-1886) and catechetics, Green (pp.175-176) remarks: "He (Zezschwitz) scorned the practice of replacing Luther's Small Catechism by writing "Question and Answer" catechisms which he regarded as pedagogically unsuitable. Instead one should hold to Luther's text and develop the exposition by setting a goal and sub-goals for each lesson and developing each lesson out of the Catechism and the Scriptures."

Even a cursory glance between the WELS 1956 Gausewitz and the Kuske reveals the Gausewitz's diligent replication of phrasing of Luther's Small Catechism text in developing the points of the lessons. Gausewitz also is fond of listing scripture references in conjunctions with scripture passages with the apparent understanding the teacher can and should work only from that without any editorial comment injected by Gausewitz himself.

Obviously, the best is the text of Luther's Small Catechism as exposited by Luther's Large Catechism.

Teaching catechism takes a lot of time. Using packaged materials robs the pastor of what could be a yearly doctrinal refresher.