The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Justification by Faith Book – The Real History of Objective Justification
Expanded Rough Draft
Webber made a staggering and unbelievable claim when he described his propaganda essay as a work of historical theology. The boggy, verbose, and undisciplined effort avoided key points of history and revealed a lack of knowledge – or candor – about most of it.
The Dogma Is Older Than the Term
First we have to distinguish between the term Objective Justification and the concept. The concept arrived among Lutherans long before the term was used. Since Walther is the gold standard of doctrine for Webber and other synodical drones, it should be added that OJ is a term later adopted by Walther, blessed, by Walther, and used by his minions.
Hoenecke used General Justification, which may sound neutral, but the German word really means :”every single one” so the German term has the same force as universal. To make this redundantly clear, WELS has generally used Universal Objective Justification lately, because the sect has made a fetish of their favorite doctrine. Using Universal and Objective together is repetitive in meaning, similar to saying “a very unique” destination when unique literally means one of a kind.
But WELS has not been blessed with literate writers for a long time, so they have their UOJ and others their OJ. Sig Becker, a Missouri convert to WELS, tried to make distinctions about some of these terms, but his explanations were distinctions without a difference.
Huber the First Professor of OJ in Lutheranism
Some think Objective Justification is very much like Calvinism. Our researcher is working on a separate essay about this. Dr. Lito Cruz believes this to be true, and I would add that Calvin’s scheme is harmonious with OJ.
Calvin separated the Holy Spirit’s work from the Word and Sacraments, using the term sovereign. Because the Spirit is sovereign, He may make a sermon effective or he may not even appear. Calvin did not write this once but many times, as described by a Harvard doctoral researcher and published in his excellent book on this topic. This separation of Word and Spirit is called Enthusiasm by Luther and the Book of Concord in the overlooked Smalcald Articles, where Enthusiasm is condemned.
Notice how Calvinism is remarkably close to Walther’s “election without faith.” For Calvin, God has predestined a small percentage of all church members to eternal salvation and the rest of the world to eternal damnation. That is Calvin’s double predestination. The tiny yield is because of God’s grace, and truly shows God’s grace, they claim. Mark Twain observed that a Calvinistic sermon reduced the number of saved to such a small number that it was not really worth the trouble. The Waltherians like to emphasize Grace! - disparaging the Means of Grace by thought, word, and deed. So their grace is a faux-grace, since they tear down or ignore the Instruments of Grace, the Word and Sacraments. Thus Missouri and its siblings passed easily into Pentecostalism and Church Growthism. Worship has been left behind in favor of entertainment.
The rationalism of Calvin certainly infected his followers, who often live up to the slogan “Young Calvinist, Old Unitarian.” This slogan fits entire countries, as evidenced in the Calvinistic history of New England, and other parts of America. The greater the Calvinistic influence, the more quickly rationalism takes over.
Missouri has often been infatuated with old time Calvinists, because many Calvinists were early to use English in America (unlike Missouri) and the traditional Calvinists seemed to be allies against Modernism.
WELS, Missouri, the Little Sect on the Prairie, and the Coveting Legalistic Cult have all cast longing eyes over the fence at other Protestant groups, the loopier the better. Fuller is their Mecca, and Willow Creek is their local haven. The first one to open the gate was Samuel Huber, and they have yet to admit this fact, quoting their Pietist leader Walther to confirm the truth of their denial.
Samuel Huber, Wittenberg OJ Errorist Defeated by Concordists
Huber was a Calvinist who became a Lutheran, long enough to be on the Wittenberg faculty. He began attacking justification by faith from within, like his descendants in the Synodical Conference. The Objective Justification salesmen of today would like to disassociate themselves from Huber, but they teach essentially the same dogma. Walther also could not accept this, because all the arguments against Huber also address Walther’s errors. The answer, say the OJ Fan Club, is to agree with Walther that Huber was not truly in the OJ camp, just a demi-semi-OJist.
Pastor Paul Rydecki summed up the issue this way on Intrepid Lutherans:
Even so, the Wuerttemberg theologians, as you say, did not like Huber’s terminology, while the Wittenberg theologians unequivocally rejected his terminology. Why, then, did Walther and H.A. Preus go on to adopt that very terminology? And why does it bother the supporters of universal justification so much to be linked to Huber, if, according to Walther, his doctrine was substantively orthodox and nothing for orthodox Lutherans to get bent out of shape about? If Walther’s followers think that Huber was basically orthodox with regard to justification and that the Wittenberg theologians taught justification wrongly (since they rejected Huber’s teaching of it), then it would seem to be the honest thing to just come out and say so.
This post-Concord conflict is summed up well by Pastor Paul Rydecki:
Hunnius takes apart Huber’s (and the official WELS) doctrine piece by piece, concluding with this observation about Huber’s supposed “confessional subscription” to the Lutheran Book of Concord:
Rydecki continued –
According to Hunnius, one cannot honestly claim to be a “confessional” Lutheran while at the same time teaching a justification apart from faith based on . His quotation from Luther is also highly relevant. How long will the WELS continue to claim to be a “confessional Lutheran” church body? How long will the truly confessional Lutheran pastors in the WELS remain in voluntary fellowship with the synod that officially condemns the Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ as heresy?
A unionist tries to pooh-pooh similarities. In the end, false teachers demand and appreciate a translation of the Bible that repeats their error and appears to canonize it – the New NIV.
However, the core of Objective Justification, however it might be explained, is declaring the entire world forgiven of its sin. That is where Huber started, and that is what Polycarp Leyser and Hunnius opposed.
Leyser was respected enough to be one of the editors of the Book of Concord and an expert in discussions about justification.
Pietism really has two major eras in Europe, starting with Spener and his immediate followers, peaking with the establishment of Halle University with the mission of promoting Pietism. Soon after, Halle became the center of rationalism in Europe, and F. Schleiermacher, an alumnus and teacher, earned his place as the pivotal modern theologian – advocating faith without belief.
The second era of Pietism was a reaction to the rationalism that took over clergy training and the institutional church in Europe. Those who dissented were called mystics and Pietists, and many found it difficult to find acceptance or positions in the establishment.
This is very important – all the American Lutheran groups were established with this background of Pietism. The American Luther leaders were either trained at Halle (Hoenecke), trained by Halle students (Walther by Stephan), or associated themselves closely with Halle, - Muhlenberg taught there.
All the American Lutherans groups were greatly influenced by the spirit of union with Calvinism, hiding doctrinal differences among Protestants, and looking for gimmicks like the revival. This rationalistic Pietism was keen on denominational cooperation and allergic to any high church tendencies (as they imagined them) – the liturgy, frequent Holy Communion, and the Book of Concord.
Thus the ingredients of the Wisconsin Synod, the Missouri Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod were Pietistic. So were the founders of The American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America.
Hoenecke and Halle University
The passage in Hoenecke’s Dogmatics dealing with General Justification offers no refuge for UOJ, but the author does quote the son-in-law of Johann Bengal (1687-1752), who worked closely with and edited his father-in-law’s work. Bengal was a Wuerttemberg Pietist. Hoenecke studied the Confessions on his own after graduating from Halle University. One of the last of the Pietists, Tholuck was his mentor. Tholuck was a Universalist and admitted it gladly. Hoenecke was not.
Rambach and Halle University
Rambach is especially important because:
· Webber quoted him favorably on Objective Justification.
· The first baptism hymn in The Lutheran Hymnal is Rambach’s.
· Rambach was a loyal Halle Pietist.
· Rambach gives us a definite data-point on UOJ being taught at the central school for all Lutherans in North America.
Rambach taught – “In His Person all mankind was justified and absolved from sin and curse.
Rambach advocated teaching 1 Timothy 3:16 as all mankind being justified when Christ rose from the dead. Although Bishop Martin Stephan did not graduate from Halle University, we know that his version of justification was life-changing for CFW Walther. We also know that Walther taught the same form of justification all his career. Therefore, the Easter absolution of the entire world, without the Word and without faith, is definitely an effect of Halle’s lasting influence.
Robert Preus CG UOJ, later anti-CG and anti-UOJ