Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Shall We Commend or Condemn Ablaze!? Part 4

Analysis of the Theological Basis of the Ablaze! Initiative

Obviously, the question is being asked and taken seriously enough to find print in Synod’s official publications. I can think of many questions which are NOT being handled. This is spin-doctoring on Kieschnick’s part.

This is proof-texting at its finest. Establish a pretense. . . and then try to support it theologically.

Two Kinds of Rebuke - “if someone is caught in a sin, restore him gently” + “an elder brother . . .”

Analysis of the Document vs. “license” for actual practices
A Review of synodical periodicals /websites
Love teach rightly about religion
What is “Pure Doctrine”?
Review of Walther and Luther
Scriptures and the Confessions
Points of Rebuke
What is better?
Simplistic: people who don’t know 6 chief parts imagining that they can do missions
Confusing Law and Gospel

❶ “An Effort Consistent with Lutheran theology and practice” . . . but it distorts the view to suit its own purposes.

– Takes Walther out of context, making it appear as though he were confounding Law and Gospel, motivating people by the Law with its threats and challenges rather than by the Gospel.

The Walther citations in this document

– Calls upon the “zealous” mission statements of Walther without also taking the pure doctrine statements of Walther

“It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is common for people to say, ‘Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.’ Many say, ‘Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.’ But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing.” Our Common Task -The Saving of Souls, (1872).

“Nowadays any one who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is at once suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ has been proscribed and outlawed. Even such modern theologians as wish to be numbered with the confessionalists, as a rule, speak of pure doctrine only in derisive terms, treating it as the shibboleth of dead-letter theology. If any one goes to the extreme, as it is held to be, of even fighting for the pure doctrine and opposing every false doctrine, he is set down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. What may be the reason? Unquestionably this, that modern theologians know full well that they have not that doctrine which in all ages has been called, and verily is, the pure doctrine. Furthermore, they even think that pure doctrine does not exist (is a non-ens), except in a dream world, in the realm of ideals, in the Republic of Plato. (Law and Gospel, 347)

“How foolish it is, yea, what an awful delusion has taken hold upon so many men's minds who ridicule the pure doctrine and say to us: ‘Ah, do cease clamoring, Pure doctrine! Pure doctrine! That can only land you in dead orthodoxy. Pay more attention to pure life, and you will raise a growth of genuine Christianity.’ That is exactly like saying to a farmer: ‘Do not worry forever about good seed; worry about good fruits.’ Is not a farmer properly concerned about good fruit when he is solicitous about getting good seed? Just so, a concern about pure doctrine is the proper concern about genuine Christianity and a sincere Christian life. False doctrine is noxious seed, sown by the enemy to produce a progeny of wickedness. The pure doctrine is wheat-seed; from it spring the children of the Kingdom, who even in the present life belong in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the life to come will be received into the Kingdom of Glory. May God even now implant in your hearts a great fear, yea, a real abhorrence, of false doctrine! May He graciously give you a holy desire for the pure, saving truth, revealed by God Himself!” (Law and Gospel, p. )

– Presents an unbalanced view of Walther, neglecting such things as are found in his Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: “There are people who cling to their Savior, but are unable to talk much about their faith, although on other topics they may be ready talkers. Others, again, may not have much experience as regards spiritual affairs and for that reason may not be able to say much.” (Dau translation, p. 315) The ardent passion for missions is not the ultimate goal or the predominant topic in his Law and Gospel, Church and Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Lehre und Wehre, or even in his convention essays. And Walther can also contend that the reason why so many people are dying apart from Christ is not that there aren’t enough workers, not that laypeople are cold towards missions: “What is therefore, briefly, the reason that so many sinners perish eternally even though God does not desire the death of any sinner? It is this: because so many despise the only means of rescue which eternal Love in Christ has prepared for them and offered to them,” Selected Sermons, p. 114.

“All that I have done is to farther, preach and teach God's Word; otherwise I have done nothing. So it happened that while I slept or while I drank a glass of Wittenberg beer with my friend Philip [Melanchthon] and with Amsdorf, the papacy was weakened as it never was before by the action of any prince or emperor. I have done nothing; the Word has done and accomplished everything.… I let the Word do its work!” (AE 51:77; 44:Intro)

❷ “An Example Characteristic Example of LCMS mission emphasis” . . . but it gives only a one-sided view of a multi-faceted church history.

– The unbalanced emphasis of an ultimate single-minded passionate zeal for missions and evangelism is not evident in books on LCMS history such as Zion on the Mississippi, Moving Frontiers, Heritage in Motion, Zeal of His House, Fritz’s Pastoral Theology, The Pastor at Work, and other historic, periodic publications in the LCMS. While missions and evangelism are seen as important, they are not penultimate — primarily because missions and evangelism are not seen merely in terms of initial conversion but also in terms of conservation and preservation — things which in fact occupy a great amount of time and effort in the lives of congregation members. And appropriately so.

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