The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine:
Luther’s Biblical Doctrine of the Word
Gregory L. Jackson, PhD
Martin Chemnitz Press
Text copyright, Gregory L. Jackson, 2016
Art copyright, Norma A. Boeckler, 2016
When I taught in Southeast Phoenix, I often drove toward the Superstition Mountains, which seemed especially beautiful and mysterious as the sun was setting behind me. Local papers and national TV remind everyone of the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine, located in the Superstitions, near Apache Junction, so rich in gold that some dreamers have spent decades looking for it.
The Dutchman, a nickname often used for Germans, is Dr. Jacob Waltz. He had a map and directions to a goldmine with the richest ore he had ever seen. In one published story, a sample of the ore proved that it was indeed the purest gold ever found.
This legend, based on fact and enlarged by many fanciful tales and deadly searches, reminds me of another German goldmine, almost entirely lost, almost a myth today.
When Lutherans celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, they will be selling beer bottle openers that play “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” and other trinkets, supposedly in honor of Martin Luther. The gadgets demean a man so lost to history that Robert Wilken - once a Lutheran doctoral advisor at Notre Dame – declared, “There is a new Luther for every generation.” Wilken is now a Roman Catholic layman and is a Distinguished Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
My research in the Scriptures and comparative dogmatics have uncovered the most basic concept of Biblical teaching, which Luther highlighted and the Reformed rejected. Although the papal theologians used the Scriptures to debate the Lutherans at first, they soon turned to denouncing the Word of God as unclear, incomplete, and in need of the ultimate judge and exegete – the Pope.
Decades ago, Lutherans taught this Biblical doctrine of the Word and normally used those expressions in discussing the Christian Faith, worship, doctrine, and practice. But the map to Luther’s goldmine has apparently been lost, so leaders veer into Pentecostal, Evangelical, business, occult, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic gulches, washes, and flash floods.
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 9:58 AM