Saturday, April 5, 2008

Intolerance of the Gospel

For a ten-year period, from 1920-1930, Theodore Graebner received questions from young pastors “in the field.” These men wanted counsel and guidance on particular matters. Dr. Graebner replied with the practical application of Scripture, and in doing so, did not offer anything new. Doctrinally his letters represent the stand of our Lutheran Confessions and the practice of the Church. In 1932 Concordia Publishing House published 112 of these letters in a book titled, Pastor and People - Letters to a Young Preacher. The letters were selected since they were deemed to be of benefit to pastors and clergy alike.

After reading these, one man remarked: "Would that those parish pastors today who had questions on how to proceed in a difficult or unique situation be able to receive the same Scriptural, Confessional, pastoral counsel and guidance that was characteristic in the church when your grandfather was a young man."

Here is one sample:

The Intolerance of the Gospel.

... “Paul’s letters to the Galatians and to the Romans were written for the preservation of liberty; for in one of them he says: ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free’; and yet, for the very purpose of maintaining that liberty, he hurled his anathemas at the Judaizers’ heads. Let us not forget that the Gospel has its intolerance as well as its toleration. There must be no toleration of treason to the Cross; for the toleration of such treason is always treachery. I say not indeed that all such errors should be put down by force, - God forbid! - but I do say that they should be denounced by every loyal servant of the Lord and that the Church should absolve itself from all complicity with the errorists.

And though there are many who would cry out against such a course as bigoted, I would rather, even in the interests of freedom itself, have - if you choose to call it so - the bigotry of Paul than the indifference of him who counts nothing essential and who is everything by turns and nothing long.” Next I was surprised to read this reference to Martin Luther: “Luther was no foe of freedom, but indeed its greatest modern pioneer; and in the proportion in which, like him, we are intolerant of everything that compromises the honor of Christ or the doctrine of His Cross, we shall conserve and widen the liberty which he did so much to secure.

So let us raise anew the shout of Paul, making it our motto, not for the moment of our brief enthusiasm merely, but for all our lives: “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”

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