To take back our neighbor's garbage barrel, I opened the gate to Mrs. Gardener's backyard. Their two dogs, Chuckee and Skinny, greeted me and ran for the western horizon. I followed them for a time but lost sight of both, running toward the Interstate, spurred onward by my calls. I could imagine the voices on my way back, "You opened the gate and let them out?"
Lutherans let the basic Biblical principles escape, too.
Any casual reader can find all the historical inroads for Calvinism in the American Lutheran Church. One was the Prussian Union effort (promoted by Schleiermacher, Halle University grad). Another was the blend of Calvin and Luther in Pietism. Spener is rightly called
"the first union theologian" in Heick's book. (He was our friend and my professor at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.)
Besides all that, each branch of American Lutheranism can be traced back to Pietism, especially the CFW Walther circle who followed their cell group guru, Martin Stephan, obsequiously.
However, the most important part of this doctrinal decline is the failure to teach basic Biblical principles. Not knowing these truths well means the door is open to Calvinism and a host of other isms.
In contrast, Calvin repeatedly stated in his works (see Benjamin Milner) that the Spirit is sovereign and may or not be present in the Word and Sacrament.
|Sig Becker enjoyed adoration for his Objective Justification nonsense. The LCMS and WELS began with Justification by Faith, not OJ.|
Deviously, the Calvinists repeat the inerrancy language but teach the Word is dead and lifeless unless we use our reason to make it real, relational, and relevant (the slogan of The CORE, WELS).
This perverse approach has led modern theologians, led by Barth-Kirschbaum, to consider the language of the Bible as something to play with, admire, distort, change, and improve. Calvinists are the ultimate improvers, and Barth-Kirschbaum hated Luther.
The Lutheran Reformers were quite emphatic and clear about invisible Word of teaching and preaching, the visible Word of the Sacraments being the only means or instruments of God's grace.
Lazy know-it-alls like Jack Cascione and Phil Hale think they are so cool in following the Calvinist line of thinking. Everyone is already forgiven (and saved)! Calvin loved to mock to efficacy of the Sacraments in his Institutes. But is it not mockery to teach everyone is born forgiven and then baptize babies, for forgiveness, washing, renewal, and rebirth?
And it is additional sacrilege and blasphemy to say everyone is already forgiven - just tell them so - and administer Holy Communion "for the forgiveness of sin!"
Because the nominal Lutherans have learned to play with the Scriptures - like Calvinists, they see and yet do not see the Chief Article in Genesis 15:6, Romans 4, Galatians, or anywhere else. They read about the Atonement and issue their rebel yell - "Objective Justification, all through the Bible!"
I could cite the academic world outside of the Stephan-Walther cult, but what really matters is the clear teaching of the Bible. We do not need to untangle the SynCon mythologies to understand the Scriptures.
The Book of Concord and Chemnitz are clear about Justification by Faith, as are Gerhard and Calov. When Robert Preus published devastating quotations against OJ, and people noticed, his son dropped Justification and Rome from his citations. Likewise, Rolf stopped chanting "Raised for our justification, Romans 4:25!" and "Behold the Lamb of God!"
Is that not just like Calvin to play with the text, based on rules invented by Westcott, Hort, and Tischendorf? If one verse is shorter or longer than another, then it is preferred. Yes, I know that is a contradiction. My favorite is this one - The reading that is more difficult is the better one. Difficult? - more heretical!
Luther and his team of scholars produced the standard German Bible, to supplant lesser efforts. Luther established the German language from that Bible, and I still consult it for his reading of the text. One does not find Luther's Bible "making disciples" or laying down fog on the Sacraments.
So Tyndale modeled his translation on the Luther Bible and was burned at the stake by the King of England for his efforts. A future King of England published the standard English Bible, with Tyndale's work (Team Luther's in English) as the foundation. Translating is a special talent and few are capable of being great language students and translators.
Moynahan writes: "A complete analysis of the Authorised Version, known down the generations as 'the AV' or 'the King James' was made in 1998. It shows that Tyndale's words account for 84% of the New Testament and for 75.8% of the Old Testament books that he translated." Joan Bridgman makes the comment in the Contemporary Review that, "He [Tyndale] is the mainly unrecognised translator of the most influential book in the world.
Biblical doctrine can come back too.