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Friday, January 4, 2013

Justification in Klemet Preus' The Fire and the Staff

Todd Wilken, left (Lutheran Public Radio), Mollie Hemingway (journalist),  the late Klemet Preus, pastor and author.
Wilken chuckled on his show that justification by faith was Calvinism.
Steadfast Lutherans is strictly a UOJ cult.
Klemet Preus, The Fire and the Staff, Lutheran Theology in Practice. Concordia Publishing House.
479 pages.

Family Tree
First - a family tree. Minnesota Governor Jake Preus begat Jack Preus the LCMS Synod President and Robert Preus, the Ft. Wayne seminary president.

Robert Preus begat Daniel, Klemet, Rolf, Peter, and a few others.

Rolf begat about dozen more.

The Preus family has been involved in many synods. I wonder how many people realize how prominent the clan was at Luther College, for example. Add Minnesota politics and the Lutheran insurance business.

This bizarre statement was endorsed by Robert Preus, 
seconded by Jack Cascione,
and recently reproduced by Paul McCain.
McCain also published the graphic - Mary's statue breastfeeding a saint from a safe distance.

Robert Preus - Universal Objective Justification
Robert Preus wrote about UOJ a number of times. Jack Cascione quoted Preus' most UOJ essay. I had another essay (now in the Brett Meyer collection) where Preus combined anti-UOJ quotations with long UOJ quotations. Sebastian Schmidt (ever hear of him?) was often quoted, but so were the orthodox theologians cited in his final work, Justification and Rome.

Although Daniel and Rolf Preus are listed as the editors of Justification and Rome, they left a devastating attack against UOJ in that book. One person observed that there were signs of heavy, clumsy editing. Of course, we have no idea what the original manuscript said, so it could have been rather incomplete when they laid their Enthusiastic hands upon it.

No one in the UOJ universe has come to grips with the problem of Robert Preus' final work being completely in line with justification by faith and obviously opposed to UOJ. The two are not compatible, proven by:
UOJ fanatics always attack justification by faith and show a demonic hatred for the word faith.
The advocates for UOJ resort to all kinds of logical fallacies to promote their cause.

Chapter Two - The Fire and the Staff - Justification
The subtitle says it all, but the rest of the chapter elaborates the many errors associated with this position.

Justification? Why not Justification by Faith?

In line with Walther and other Pietists, Klemet plays with words to say the entire world is declared free from sin while pretending to teach justification by faith.

Claiming to be a theologian, Klemet opened his chapter with this honker:

The Biblical teaching that we are justified before God because of the death of Christ through faith is the central and most important doctrine of the Bible. (p. 55)

This clumsy statement confuses the atoning death of Christ with justification by faith. The rest of the chapter applies justification by faith statements to UOJ, as if that dogma from Halle University Pietism is found in the Bible, Luther, and the Book of Concord.

Let's parse the statement in blue and add some punctuation.

The Biblical teaching--that we are justified before God because of the death of Christ [OJ], through faith [SJ]--is the central and most important doctrine of the Bible. (p. 55) GJ - see page 80 for the unveiling of UOJ.

Objective Justification (OJ) is that notion that God declared the entire world forgiven of all its sins, the moment Christ died on the cross, or perhaps the moment Christ rose from the dead. According to distant relative Edward Preuss, who became a papist, everyone is born without sin. This delusion is in perfect harmony with Universalism, but the UOJ Enthusiasts cannot face this doctrinal fact.

Subjective Justification (SJ) is not faith in Christ. No, believing is bad - and faith is worse. Faith in Christ is a work of man, they imply, although that sounds rather stupid in a sermon. SJ is faith in OJ, as Walther stated so clearly. As Walther explained below, in a quotation dearly loved by the ELS and others, the atonement is universal forgiveness without faith. Salvation is making a decision for OJ.

Correct Quotations - Dishonest Application
Klemet does what every UOJ stylist attempts. He uses the classic quotations about justification by faith and applies them to UOJ, as if UOJ were the Gospel.

"This article on justification by faith is the most important of all Christian teaching, without which no poor conscience can have lasting comfort or recognize properly the riches of Christ's grace." SD III, 6.
[GJ - And what, pray tell, is this article in the Formula of Concord called? - The Righteousness of Faith.]

Krauth is quoted - but he never taught UOJ. Neither did Luther, nor did Melanchthon. Nor did Chemnitz. Nor Chytraeus. Nor Gerhard. But why change the subject once UOJ is introduced?

"Where this single article remains pure, Christendom will remain pure, in beautiful harmony and without any schisms. But where it does not remain pure, it is impossible to repel any error or heretical spirit." Quoting Luther, from Krauth, Conservative Reformation, p. 203.
[GJ - Where is Luther more plain than his Galatians commentary, never cited by UOJ, that the entire book is his treatise on the doctrine of faith? This book was commended by the editors of the Book of Concord.]

Klemet has the gall to quote Chemnitz, summarized first this way, in the words of Klemet hisself
"If you are wrong on this doctrine, everything else will fall apart, Chemnitz says." p. 55
[GJ - Chemnitz studied under Luther and Melanchthon and steadfastly taught Luther's doctrine of faith, in harmony with the Word of God. How pathetic, to abuse Chemnitz' words, to support UOJ.]

UOJ is the amputated Gospel - no Gospel at all.
Where is the rest of it?

Reagan - "Where Is the Rest of Me?"
Ronald Reagan's famous movie line comes from a man who wakes up with his legs amputated. The UOJ advocates remind me of this problem. Where is the rest of their Gospel?

Missing always are the Means of Grace. Like all Enthusiasts, the UOJ Stormtroopers love to talk about grace without God's Instruments of Grace.

Where is the Holy Spirit? God only acts through the Holy Spirit's power in the Word, whether in the invisible Word of teaching and preaching, or in the visible Word of the Sacraments.

Faith is reviled and put down so much that UOJ can truly be called Justification Without Faith.

As all students of Luther's Galatians commentary know, there can only be justification by faith or justification by the law. Therefore, UOJ is a law religion. No wonder that its adherents are attracted to Rome, which is all law, or the Fuller frenzy, which is equally the law (but lacking in smells and bells).


Osiander? - Thou Must Be Kidding Us
As one layman said, Klemet is reacting against criticism of UOJ. The typical UOJ talking points have been obliterated by posts from Brett Meyer, Dr. Lito Cruz, and others. Romans 4:25 is not longer cited, since most people realize the entire fourth chapter of Romans is a justification by faith argument.

Nevertheless, this straw man or red herring is a shock. In fact, I wonder how the chapter got past the editors at CPH. Now I remember - Paul McCain and his boss are as clueless as the rest. They all know Biblical doctrine better than God, so they can foist any bad argument on the masses and just act upset if anyone questions them. Stephan and Walther started that game and they continue it.

DP Buchholz and Jay Webber favor the Halle Pietist Rambach
over Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz - and St. Paul.

So Klemet poses Osiander as the alternative to UOJ. On page 60 he contrasts Chemntiz with Osiander, without revealing that he (Klemet) has refashioned the Gospel in the image of Walther, Knapp, Samuel Huber, and Rambach the Halle Pietist.

Bente, Historical Introductions, on Osiander:
Andrew Osiander was the first to fulfil Luther's prophecy. In 1549 he began publicly to propound a doctrine in which he abandoned the forensic conception of justification by imputation of the merits of Christ, and returned to the Roman view of justification by infusion i.e.,by infusion of the eternal essential righteousness of the divine nature of Christ. According to his own statement, he had harbored these views ever since about 1522.He is said also to have presented them in a sermon delivered at the convention in Smalcald, 1537. (Planck 4, 257.) Yet he made no special effort to develop and publicly to disseminate his ideas during the life of Luther.

When I found a quotation from the liberal Albrecht Ritschl on Osiander, I wondered if Klemet got his strange comparison from that theologian. The theme of 19th century modernism was - do not make salvation contingent on faith. This is also the theme of mainline Protestantism today - a Universalism without naming it as such. But do not criticize - UOJ or Universalism - both solve all the problems of ecumenism, doctrinal battles, and Law/Gospel distinctions. One can place his brain in neutral and coast, reaping the benefits.

Walther approved the double-justification language that Woods used in the translation.
Halle was the mother ship for missions and also for the new breed of rationalistic theologians
like Schleiermacher and Tholuck.

Ritschl studied at Halle University and was greatly influenced by Schleiermacher, the Halle leader of apostasy. Any study of modern theology starts with Schleiermacher or devotes a lot of time to him. My first reaction to UOJ was, "That sounds just like the mainline Protestants - all grace, no faith."

Klemet dishonestly quotes Luther again on page 61:
"This doctrine [of justification] will be obscured again after my death." Bente, p. 152.

Klemet's brackets are dishonest, too. Luther's doctrine was always - justification by faith - not the implied UOJ.

Missing the point entirely, Klemet argues from the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord III (The Righteousness of Faith) that there was never any reason to allow Osiander a foothold in this debate. While it is true that Osiander caused plenty of trouble in his day, he is even more obscure than Agricola today.

Agricola's Antinomianism is dominant today, a byproduct of UOJ. Antinomianism is the  anti-law notion that lets UOJ clergy dump their wives for their mistresses, divorce, remarry, and tell everyone how to be good, faithful pastors.

Osiander Test
One test question will suffice -
1.A - I am righteous before God because Jesus lived for me in time.
B. - I am righteous before God because Jesus lives in my heart.

"A" is a lousy answer because it passes over justification by faith, the Chief Article of Christianity, ignores the Means of Grace, and fits any Hindu, Muslim, or atheist. The point of Romans 4, about Abraham, is absent, too. Klemet has an STM? In what?

"B" is unclear - certainly not distinctly Osiander's point of view and vague enough to fit many confessions of faith.

The rest of the test is equally slanted, deeply flawed from a testing or doctrinal point of view.

Apparently the reason for citing Osiander is to impugn Christian Contemporary Music, especially the sentimental side of that genre. Why do we find an enormous thirst for CCM and Baptist style Lutheran services? UOJ has no Gospel, so Missourians, WELSians, and ELCAns look for a substitute.

This is so clear in the deceitful use of Chemnitz on page 64, the conclusion of the section, p. 64.

"It [the crucifix] tells me that my ministry as a pastor is to proclaim 'God [who] imputes to us the righteousness of the obedience and death of Christ." Chemnitz, Enchiridion, p. 72

Now - the actual quotation -

In this very thing, that God imputes to us the righteousness of the obedience and death of Christ the Mediator and thus justifies us freely out of grace, without our works or merits, alone by faith that apprehends the grace of God the Father and the merit of Christ; that is, He forgives us [our] sins, receives [us] into grace, adopts [us] as [His] sons, and receives [us] to the inheritance of life eternal. Romans 4:24-25, 28; 4:5; 10:4; Galatians 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7.
Ministry Word and Sacraments, An Enchiridion. Martin Chemnitz, trans. Luther Poellot, CPH, p. 72.

Note that Klemet omits "alone by faith." Chemnitz cites Romans 4:24-25, not just Romans 4:25 (as if the resurrection of Christ was the moment of world absolution - the Pietists' claim).

The Enchiridion was used as a primer for testing pastoral students. The Synodical Conference pastors of today, especially their leaders, fail this test completely. There are exceptions among the clergy, but they are a minority in the LCMS, WELS, and the Little Sect on the Prairie.

OJ and SJ - The Veil Is Removed from the UOJ Agenda
Klemet finally introduces the agenda late in the chapter and rather late in the book. A common trick of UOJ Enthusiasts is to say, "One side sees it as OJ. One side sees it as SJ. Really, these are two sides of the same coin."

As Luther said, analogies do not persuade. They beautify an argument. In this case, there is no chance of adding enough cosmetics to make universal absolution attractive.

Justification by faith is not a coin, and UOJ is a late-comer to the Reformation. Samuel Huber's UOJ was demolished by the Wittenberg faculty, by Hunnius and Leyser. That fact does not matter, because the SynCons today start with UOJ and filter/distort every Scripture, every Book of Concord citation to make justification by faith into Huber's and Knapp's UOJ.

Klemet also mentions the predestination controversy, which I just visited with Walther's little book, translated by Ken Howes. That is another case of taking faith away from a topic where all the elements of the Christian religion are to be viewed together. There is only One Doctrine, not many doctrines, only One Truth, not many little Lego pieces to put together or discard. Divorcing faith from any part of the discussion is simply absurd.

The sole purpose of the Scriptures is to plant faith in those who hear and read the Word of God, to sustain faith in believers. Arguing against faith is not grace, and certainly not the Gospel.

Teaching faith in Christ is teaching people how we are forgiven, by receiving the Gospel Promises in faith.

Klemet's inventions about faith are not edifying, but bent and distorted to fit the Walther paradigm of faith  - a dried up, withered hand receiving the UOJ trick-or-treat candy.

Klemet has no grasp of justification, so his dalliance with the Holy Spirit's work is just as flawed. In Chapter 3 is more of the same UOJ claptrap.

Jesus' death pronounces the world "not guilty." (This verdict is our justification, as chapter 2 of this book shows.) p. 80

I would pursue additional errors, but there is no need. When someone is wrong about justification by faith and the Means of Grace, anything else is to be expected.

The book is poorly written, with zillions of examples of "you" and "your" mixed with third person (he, she, they - for Mequon grads). This is more proof that CPH editors are overpaid and underworked.

The homiletical examples are difficult to endure. I have posted some graphics to show how far Klemet is from Lutheran orthodoxy and his father's final book.


2138 has left a new comment on your post "Justification in Klemet Preus' The Fire and the St...":

I skimmed and took notes on the first couple chapters of this book a year ago. Here are select quotes that stood out to me then, some of which you allude to in your review. My notes are in [brackets].

[Another multiple choice question:]

Page 62— “7. A. Justification happened 2,000 years ago and is received by faith. B. Justification depends on faith and did not happen 2,000 years ago. …The correct [answer is]…7. A.”

[He then goes on to discuss OJ and SJ.]

Page 65—“They are just two ways of looking at the same thing. But you have to be objectively absolved in order to be subjectively absolved.”

[Regarding a mid-nineteenth century controversy over who is absolved (all people or only believers), Preus wrote:]

Page 65—“The first side talked of absolution in objective terms. That way it could be spoken of with certainty. The second side refused to speak in objective terms and had great difficulty speaking with certainty. The first side was correct theologically. The second was condemned.”

[On pages 71-72, Preus compares faith to…a trick-or-treating bag. He then writes:]

Page 72—“When you don’t have [faith], you are lost. When you do have it, all you think about is what’s in it. When a person does not have faith, we say, ‘They are lost. You can’t get to heaven without faith. Faith is necessary.’ But when a person believes, you stop talking about faith and talk only about Jesus. The way to get a person to believe is not to discuss the importance of faith. Instead, you have to talk about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Page 72—“I once heard a sermon where the preacher proclaimed, ‘God has done His part. He has sent His Son to die for you. Now you have to do your part. You have to believe in Jesus.’ That is bad theology.”

[Was he talking about Walther’s Easter absolution sermon, I wonder?]

Page 74—“Then what makes faith so important? Walther quotes Adam Osiander: ‘Faith does not justify in so far as it is obedience in compliance with a command,--for thus viewed, it is an action, a work, and something required by Law,--but only in so far as it receives and is attached to justification after the manner of a passive instrument.’”

[Who is Adam Osiander, and what makes him an authority on justification and faith?] 


Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel has left a new comment on your post "Justification in Klemet Preus' The Fire and the St...":

Ichabod -

Nice posting. I will have to go back and read thoroughly. However, I must ask you the question?

"Why did you have to (partially) denigrate this fine article of yours with a McNasty pic?

Nathan M. Bickel

P.S. I liked that Ronald Reagan pic. I remember that movie when he woke up only to horridly discover that he was bereft of his two lower limbs........