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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CFW Walther, Pietist and Head Case.
Brittle Tyrant in the Making


P. Stephan's In Pursuit of Religious Freedom has good insights about the founder of the Missouri Synod.

The Stephan congregation and associated pastors were Pietists. Stephan himself went to Halle University, where Knapp was the famous lecturer and creator of the double-justification scheme, as translated by Woods. Stephan's education was interrupted and he continued at Leipzig.

Stephan's congregation was connected to Zinzendorf through the land given to it by the famous count. Mission societies were typically Pietistic, so American Lutheran groups were tied to that ideology. In fact, Muhlenberg was sent to America (from Halle) to counter Zinzendorf's trip there. Z used an assumed name.

So let's drop the notion that Walther came to America to rescue his adopted land from Pietism. He came over as a Pietist, with Pietists, led by a Halle-trained Pietist. He was mildly critical of Pietism later, but he never laid a hand on Spener, the founder of Pietism.

Few realize today how sacrosanct Spener's name was at that time. Perhaps many Lutherans saw the Halle circle as an antidote to rationalism, but rationalism took over quickly at their citadel. Tholuck (Hoenecke's mentor) was the last of the old breed, and he was pretty rationalistic himself.

When Stephan met Walther, CFW was "more dead than alive." He was starving himself to atone for his sins. Today that would be considered a major mental problem, especially in a man. Unfortunately, many young women suffer from anorexia nervosa, due to their perfectionism. For example, it is a common problem among Notre Dame undergraduate women, who must be extremely competitive to be accepted there.

I have dealt with many medical conditions in doing underwriting, but I only had one man with anorexia nervosa.

Stephan was a dedicated Pietist, but he was known for providing pastoral counseling to individuals. Walther said he owed his life to Stephan, and their mutual accounts agree on that score.

Martin Stephan Forum:
In Germany, Martin Stephan Sr. knew Walther, then a student who was starving himself to death in a form of ascetic pietism. Stephan reassured Walther that to obtain salvation, he did not need to resort to this practice, and saved this young man's life (by Walther's own admission). Walther received counsel more than once thereafter from Dr. Stephan in Germany.

Unethical Bully and Tyrant
Someone asked me where I got stories about Walther having screaming fits when people opposed him, once he was established as head of the Missouri Synod. These anecdotes are an oral tradition, passed along by Missouri clergy. No one in the LCMS is going to document these stories, because that would be worse than questioning UOJ. Very few outside of Missouri care to deal with the sect's hagiography. Do you, readers, care about Liguori, the Roman Catholic saint (dig that picture in Wiki!), or John Vianney, whose property Missouri bought for the Purple Palace?

One story is that he could no longer travel to the Springfield seminary, because of tensions between him and the faculty.

If those stories are dismissed, we still have Walther kidnapping of two minors, fleeing warrants for his arrest, violating the seal of the confessional, refusing to deal with the bishop while organizing a mob, robbery, and another case of forcible kidnap.

Further evidence of his brittle, dictatorial personality come from his need to dominate and control the other Lutheran groups, such as taking over seminary education and the ludicrous "state synod" idea.

Circular Reasoning
Syn Conference fans work from the assumption that anything Walther did and taught was correct, because Walther was perfect in every possible way. No other denomination is so obsessed with the adoration of one man and his opinions.

Walther selecting and training F. Pieper extended this grasp to the next generation or so. This also applied to Stoeckhardt, whose bizarre manipulation of Romans had to be right, because he agreed with Walther. Forget Luther and everyone else, including the Apostle Paul.

The Brief Confession of 1932, the last effort of F. Pieper, enshrined the Walther mythology for all time. World absolution had to be true because it came from F. Pieper, who studied under Walther. Thus one particular statement trumps everything from the Word of God and the Confessions.

According to Walther/UOJ adherents, Romans 4:25 must teach universal absolution of Hindus and Hottentots because Walther-Pieper-Stoeckhardt said so. The plain meaning of Romans 4 and its transition to Romans 5 is simply set aside.

---

Joe Krohn has seen the problem with self-contradictory UOJ here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This or That?

From the WELS website:

"IV. JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

1. We believe that God has justified all sinners, that is, he has declared them righteous for the sake of Christ. This is the central message of Scripture upon which the very existence of the church depends. It is a message relevant to people of all times and places, of all races and social levels, for "the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men" (Romans 5:18). All need forgiveness of sins before God, and Scripture proclaims that all have been justified, for "the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men" (Romans 5:18).

2. We believe that individuals receive this free gift of forgiveness not on the basis of their own works, but only through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). Justifying faith is trust in Christ and his redemptive work. This faith justifies not because of any power it has in itself, but only because of the salvation prepared by God in Christ, which it embraces (Romans 3:28; 4:5). On the other hand, although Jesus died for all, Scripture says that "whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Unbelievers forfeit the forgiveness won for them by Christ (John 8:24)."

Point one says that all men of all time need forgiveness and that all men of all time have it since they are righteous and justified before God by Christ's death and resurrection...even before they were born or had a chance to receive faith in a Savior.

Point two con volutes point one by saying one receives this free gift by faith...even though they have forgiveness before they do anything at all prior to birth even...BUT, Jesus died for all (This is an atonement statement...even though point one proclaims a universal absolution which is NOT atonement, expiation or propitiation) and even though all men were forgiven, now they are unforgiven by their rejection...even though we are talking about a divine decree by God.  God becomes an indian forgiver...sorry to go non-p.c. there...so which is it?

This concerning the remission of sins from the Augsburg Confession:

"Now, repentance consists properly of these 3] two parts: One is contrition, that is, 4] terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of 5] the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts 6] the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance."

And this from The Smalcald Articles:

"1] This office [of the Law] the New Testament retains and urges, as St. Paul, Rom. 1:18 does, saying: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Again, Rom 3:19: All the world is guilty before God. No man is righteous before Him. And Christ says, John 16:8: The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin.

2] This, then, is the thunderbolt of God by which He strikes in a heap [hurls to the ground] both manifest sinners and false saints [hypocrites], and suffers no one to be in the right [declares no one righteous], but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer, as Jeremiah 23:29 says: Is not My Word like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? This is not activa contritio or manufactured repentance, but passiva contritio [torture of conscience], true sorrow of heart, suffering and sensation of death.

3] This, then, is what it means to begin true repentance; and here man must hear such a sentence as this: You are all of no account, whether you be manifest sinners or saints [in your own opinion]; you all must become different and do otherwise than you now are and are doing [no matter what sort of people you are], whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you may. Here no one is [righteous, holy], godly, etc.
4] But to this office the New Testament immediately adds the consolatory promise of grace through the Gospel, which must be believed, as Christ declares, Mark 1:15: Repent and believe the Gospel, i.e., become different and do otherwise, and believe My promise. And John, preceding Him, is called a preacher of repentance, however, for the remission of sins, i.e., John was to accuse all, and convict them of being sinners, that they might know what they were before God, and might acknowledge that they were lost men, and might thus be prepared for the Lord, to receive grace, and to expect and accept from Him the remission of sins. Thus also Christ Himself says, Luke 24:47: 6] Repentance and remission of sins must be preached in My name among all nations.

7] But whenever the Law alone, without the Gospel being added exercises this its office there is [nothing else than] death and hell, and man must despair, like Saul and Judas; as St. Paul, Rom. 7:10, says: Through sin the Law killeth. 8] On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and remission not only in one way, but through the word and Sacraments, and the like, as we shall hear afterward in order that [thus] there is with the Lord plenteous redemption, as Ps. 130:7 says against the dreadful captivity of sin."