Monday, December 31, 2012

The Formula of Concord, Core and Highlights.
The Doctrine of Election in Questions and Answers By C. F. W. Walther, B.A.
Translated by Kenneth Howes




The Formula of Concord, Core and Highlights.
The Doctrine of Election in Questions and Answers

By C. F. W. Walther, B.A.

Translated by Kenneth Howes

Lutheran News, 2012, ISBN #978-0-9644700-4-4

159 pages. Paperback

Reviewed by Gregory L. Jackson, PhD

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The Formula of Concord - Core and Highlights/The Doctrine of Election in Q & A, by CFW Walther, Translated by Kenneth E. F. Howes:

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The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is incorrectly viewed as Walther’s creation, but that mirage simply erases the real founder – Bishop Martin Stephan, who gathered the subservient pastors, promoted and organized the great migration, and led them (and his groupies) across the Atlantic.

Landing in New Orleans, the clergy—including C.F.W. Walther—signed a pledge of lifetime obedience to their bishop. The mythologists want to erase Walther’s signature, but there it is. As Zion on the Mississippi points out, the only way to become or remain within the Stephan circle was to be absolutely obedient to the cell group leader. No dissent was allowed. If a pastor happened to displease Stephan in any way, he had to beg forgiveness.

Walther’s spiritual training was stunted by a rationalist stint at the university. His voluntary associations were exclusively Pietistic – a morbid demanding leader of the Walther circle and a Halle style Bible study group. The first leader died, and the group gravitated to Martin Stephan, a Pietist pastor with a Pietist congregation.

Walther observed much later that Stephan was a bit of a Pietist, showing how carefully Number Two managed his own public relations. Walther did not want an early history of the Stephan cult published, and his circle obliged with silence and knee-slapping lies.

The Stephanites believed that they alone preserved the Word of God and the True Church. When they left Germany, the land fell into complete darkness, they thought. When one Stephanite questioned this on the journey, he was cut off from his subsidy until he repented. And he did.

This fanaticism led Walther and his brother to kidnap their niece and nephew. The clergy urged those who wanted to leave  - divorce your spouses and go. They bragged that minor children left home on their own and joined their crusade. All this is recorded in Zion the Mississippi, but never communicated to the masses.

The saddest part of this debacle is the Walther circle going along with Stephan’s adultery, ignoring his syphilis, and abandoning his sick family in Dresden – to die from the illness he brought them. Walther’s crimes—organizing a mob, threatening the life of Stephan, stealing all his goods and kidnapping him at gunpoint—pale in comparison to what was done to Mrs. Stephan and her syphilitic children. The secondary founders of the LCMS, the Walther circle, are guilty of all that – and lying about their crimes.

Just as the Walther circle had to answer to God for what they did in enabling Stephan and killing his family, so the present SynCon leaders will answer to God for:
  • Teaching Walther’s world absolution.
  • The murders of Mrs. William Tabor and Mrs. Al Just,
  • The rapes of boys videotaped to provide the sex files at WELS headquarters,
  • Darwin Schauer (convicted sex criminal) being given a “lay-pastor’s” position by the LCMS DP so he could rape another girl, and
  • SynCon work with ELCA while hypocritically looking down on ELCA.



Walther blamed Stephan’s adultery on Mrs. Stephan (“confidentially” – CFW’s slander of the victim, which CPH published in one of many Walther hagiographies).

Given these facts, which are easily accessed in Zion on the Mississippi, various Walther biographies, and In Pursuit of Religious Freedom, how can anyone take Walther seriously as a theologian or as a pastor?

The Template
Nevertheless, Ken Howes has done everyone a service by translating this Walther volume. Howes contends that German evaporated as a working language in the LCMS during WWII. I thought the reaction began during WWI. In Canada, where I served, the town Berlin, Ontario had to be changed to Kitchener during WWI, because no one would buy goods made in “Berlin.” The German pastor was dumped in the fountain (for being German). Victoria Park boasted a large statue of Kaiser Wilhelm, but that was also dumped in the lake.

WELS once required a bit of German for graduation from the Sausage Factory in Mequon. They eliminated that requirement. One Mequonite after another said to me, “You read German?” My response was, “You don’t?” They were always bragging about their superior education, so it was fun to silence them.

Howes is correct. German is no longer a working language in any of the synods, and that is a shame. There is a vast ministry that could be offered to those whose primary language is German. One of my contacts sent me some German devotions, which we shared with German relatives. They are perfectly fluent, but loved the booklet for speaking to them in their mother tongue. In the past I shared boxes of old German books with those who wanted them. The Walther sermon books were bound to last through Armageddon, printed on long-lasting clay paper.

If something is not translated from Latin or German, it is lost on the American public today. Walther should be translated and read because of his influence, not because of the quality of his work. Stephan and Walther created the template that governs the LCMS, WELS, and ELS today – not to mention the micro-mini sects that hate and covet the Big Three, sharing and magnifying the same fatal flaws.

Those flaws are:
  1. Justification without faith as the official dogma – not the Gospel but the anti-Gospel, hence no Gospel fruits.
  2. Rationalism – Their main (albeit stealth) theologian is George C. Knapp, the Halle theologian whose double-justification was adopted and enforce, even today, by the SynCons. Knapp denied the Biblical basis of the Trinity. Tholuck was an open Universalist. In or out of the Universalism closet, the Halle theologians were the foundation of all modern apostate theology.
  3. Pietism, Enthusiasm, Pentecostalism – This isms fuel the decline because they are natural outgrowths of denying the efficacy of the Word and the Means of Grace.
  4. Abuse of members and pastors – Like Stephan and Walther, the clergy have no problems with treating the vulnerable as sexual outlets, savaging dissenters into submission, and reigning as tyrants. Wives are slaves, said Walther; slavery is good, Biblical, and wholesome.



The Book – Three Parts – Part One, Bente Foreshadowed
The first part of the book will strike some people as a rehash of Bente’s Introductions to the Book of Concord, but without citations. Once I read through that part of the Howes  book,  I thought, “This is Bente.” This Walther volume was written to celebrate (?) the anniversary of the Book of Concord, 1877, so it predated the Triglotta with the Bente Introductions, 1917.

In spite of Walther and Pieper’s dreadful leadership, the Missouri Synod still promoted a lot of sound Lutheran material – the great Luther set in German and the Triglotta. They atoned for their Luther work with a constant stream of UOJ materials, from the Pieper faculty at St. Louis and Concordia Publishing House.

Bente’s use of Walther, or their common use of familiar stories (the German Q), may reveal the start of the Paul McCain style – copying while posing as an original writer.

The stories and quotations are good to know, but they are far from the reality of Lutherdom today. The SynCons coo with delight over the latest eructations from Fuller Seminary, so one can imagine the Big Three openly joining the gay liberation movement from Andy Stanley, Mclaren, and Rick Warren. Apostasy gains momentum quickly when no one objects – and precious few bother. There is too much money in false doctrine, too many rewards in bowing to denominational dictators.


SP Harrison's DPs can sell your church out from under you
and cover up for sex offenders - no problem.


Second Part - The Election Questions and Answers
The second part is a series of 114 questions and answers about Election. Since Walther is asking the questions he answers, the content is contrived and more artificial than plastic flowers on the altar.

Here is the Formula of Concord, Election, Solid Declaration


It is far more edifying that Walther’s effort to explain it.

13] Therefore, if we wish to think or speak correctly and profitably concerning eternal election, or the predestination and ordination of the children of God to eternal life, we should accustom ourselves not to speculate concerning the bare, secret, concealed, inscrutable foreknowledge of God, but how the counsel, purpose, and ordination of God in Christ Jesus, who is the true Book of Life, is revealed to us through the Word, 14] namely, that the entire doctrine concerning the purpose, counsel, will, and ordination of God pertaining to our redemption, call, justification, and salvation should be taken together; as Paul treats and has explained this article Rom. 8:29f ; Eph. 1:4f , as also Christ in the parable, Matt. 22:1ff , namely, that God in His purpose and counsel ordained [decreed]:

15] 1. That the human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ, who, by His faultless [innocency] obedience, suffering, and death, has merited for us the righteousness which avails before God, and eternal life.

16] 2. That such merit and benefits of Christ shall be presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments.

17] 3. That by His Holy Ghost, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, He will be efficacious and active in us, convert hearts to true repentance, and preserve them in the true faith.

18] 4. That He will justify all those who in true repentance receive Christ by a true faith, and will receive them into grace, the adoption of sons, and the inheritance of eternal life.

19] 5. That He will also sanctify in love those who are thus justified, as St. Paul says, Eph. 1:4.

20] 6. That He also will protect them in their great weakness against the devil, the world, and the flesh, and rule and lead them in His ways, raise them again [place His hand beneath them], when they stumble, comfort them under the cross and in temptation, and preserve them [for life eternal].

21] 7. That He will also strengthen, increase, and support to the end the good work which He has begun in them, if they adhere to God's Word, pray diligently, abide in God's goodness [grace], and faithfully use the gifts received.

22] 8. That finally He will eternally save and glorify in life eternal those whom He has elected, called, and justified.

Walther used Election to marginalize every other Lutheran leader, to undermine justification by faith without his need to mount a frontal attack on the Gospel itself. This Election conflict was also useful in providing a red herring for anyone discussing Synodical Conference doctrine. Everyone goes off on a merry chase about who wrote what about Election, who was right about this or that.

Thus a section in the Formula of Concord urging us not to speculate has been used by Walther as a springboard for speculation, attack, and division. No one worked harder at dividing Lutherans than Walther. Now the Big Four (ELCA too!) are united around his greatest flaws (listed above).

Since the questions and answers are a summary of Walther’s agenda, studying this section will be valuable for anyone wanting to explore the Election conflict. I have several contacts who wish to do that, so I suggested the Howes book to them. It is far better to start with original documents than to read about the documents.

That is why publishers and authors like book reviews, because they motivate people to buy and read the book.



Third Part, The Afterword – Pure Walther
I enjoyed the third section of the book, the Afterword, which reveals so much about the character and methods of Walther. In case anyone wonders, Walther explicitly used his own Election catechism to prove why his opponents were wrong.

If the innocent and sluggish accept Walther as an expert in theology, using himself as an authority is ideal for not taxing the brain. Luther used the Word of God. Chemniz used the Word and the patristic fathers. Walther used Walther, which reminds me of Waldo Werning recommending Waldo Werning in one of his many Church Growth books.
Walther labels his opponents as Synergists. Even today, this is the shrill cry of those who advocate universal absolution (UOJ).

Synergism is an accurate term for those who teach decision theology. “God has done this, so it is time for you to make a decision for Christ. Join with me in praying the sinners prayer.”

The Calvinists and Arminians fought over this, so it is ironic that Walther (like his fanclub today) viewed the world in Calvinist terms. He never caught on to Lutheran theology because he began in rationalism (his sole degree, a bachelor’s at a rationalistic university) and continued in Pietism, a common refuge for those who could not accept the rationalism of the 19th century.

Rather than teach Luther and the Book of Concord, the SynCon seminaries today teach sect worship and the adoration of previous essay-writers.  The colleges and parochial schools teach almost nothing of the Lutheran classics. They are too busy marketing the Gospel and not offending anyone.

The road to success and promotion in the SynCons is a Fuller drive-by D. Min. degree. That alone should tell everyone what they need to know.

I realize that exceptions exist. One reader told me of a Missouri Synod DP who knows, reads, and quotes the Book of Concord. But of all the SynCon leaders, he is an exception – hardly the norm.

So Walther’s opponents were “up to their ears in Synergism”? (p. 155) No wonder that simply quoting or linking another Lutheran will make the Groeschel fanclub shriek like little girls who just saw a spider on their pinafores.

Walther should be studied,  with the SynCon blinders off, but the Scriptures and Confessions must be studied far more than they are today.

I am happy to report that one Luther quotation is now leading all other posts, month after month, with 2500 page reads each month. Other favorite posts are about Luther’s doctrine or the Book of Concord. Look at the top ones for the last month:

May 23, 2012
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May 18, 2008, 5 comments
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Nov 9, 2010
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Who Should Buy This Book
This is a good volume for any pastor in the Synodical Conference, because the last two parts open up the topic of Election in relatively few words. If Lutherans can motivate themselves to study Walther without the mythology, sugar-coating, and hagiography, they will discover the difference between Biblical Means of Grace teaching and Enthusiasm.


From Pietism, Pietism.
  




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