It’s More About the ‘Heart’ Knowledge than it is About the ‘Head’ Knowledge According to St. Louis Sem Magazine, by Pr. Rossow

In this Fall’s edition of “Concordia Seminary,” the magazine of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, it is reported that the professors remind the students that “it’s more about the ‘heart’ knowledge than it is about the ‘head’ knowledge” (p. 21).

This sounds like something one might hear from a Methobapticostal seminary rather than the historic bastion of objective truth and the pure Gospel expressed in the historic liturgy known as Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. It is my personal opinion that the faculty of the St. Louis Seminary, on a whole, is characterized by professors who are either captivated by silly post-modern notions of “contextualization” and/or consumed with making the Scriptures and Lutheranism compatible with the emotion laden spirituality of the American Evangelicals.

The quote in the first paragraph is taken from an article titled “Beyond the four walls.” It is an interview with a second year alternate route student from the Pacific Northwest who according to the article has a “passion for mission” and is on a quest to give people answers and reach them through “their passions and interests.”

I don’t know if the professors actually teach that heart knowledge (whatever that oxymoron might be) is more important than head knowledge. I hope not. The Scriptures do not allow us to pit one against the other. The Gospel is an objective fact of “head knowledge” and is grasped by the Holy Spirit moving our wills to true faith and trust. The real point of this story, and one that is indisputable, is that in the Fall of the year of our Lord, 2011, Concordia Seminary published a fancy, full color rag with the above quote in the tag line and as the heart of the article.

Getting back to the professors, I would not be surprised if they do actually teach this however, since the St. Louis seminary has recently introduced contemporary worship and small group “ministry” into the routine of spiritual exercise at the institution. Both of these tactics are born out of the narcissistic culture of the 1960’s – 90’s in which traditional, noetic rooted denominations have been caving right and left to this Methabapticostal pitting of emotion against reason and practice against doctrine. There are clear signs that Concordia, St. Louis is entering that race to relevance and emotive based spirituality.

We Lutherans certainly know from our Augustinian heritage (Luther was an Augustinian monk) that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit’s moving of the will to trust and faith is essential to salvation. In this sense, the will (seat of the emotions?) is crucial in the salvation of the individual. In the hands of the liberals of the 20th century (Bultmann and the like) this led to the hermeneutics of “impact” preaching in which the important thing was the existential condition of the individual. To them, it mattered not if the Scriptures were true. They failed to combat the onslaught of the empirical methods of science that undermined the truth of Scripture. Their response was to elevate the “impact” of the preaching of the “word.” They taught that it doesn’t matter if the Gospel is true. What matters is that it moves the hearer to existential meaning. They are wrong and their teaching did great harm to the church.

In the 1970’s courageous and truthful Lutherans such as J. A. O. Preus led Concordia Seminary St. Louis in the charge against such false pitting of emotion against knowledge. They steadfastly defended the common sense truth of the Scriptures.

Today the threat in Confessional Lutheranism is not so much from the “impact” liberals who are retiring and dying out. The threat is from a new generation of people who pit the heart against the head in a psychological way in contrast to the philosophical approach of Bultmann. They favor the heart because of the need to tickle the ears of the current generation which is steeped in emotion and relevance. This is a threat to the Scriptural understanding of the pure Gospel which is true beyond my feelings and even despite my feelings. The Gospel is comforting because it is true that God loves me even when I don’t feel as if He does. The objective fact of the cross remains whether I like it or like it not. The Gospel is comforting because, even when it does not seem relevant to my daily struggles, it is the one thing that I really need, the forgiveness of sins.

Pray that this article from the seminary about the alternate route student is an anomaly and join us in continuing to steadfastly work so that the truth prevail in our beloved LCMS.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Comments

It’s More About the ‘Heart’ Knowledge than it is About the ‘Head’ Knowledge According to St. Louis Sem Magazine, by Pr. Rossow — 197 Comments

  1. @revaggie #79

    Not all the classes are on iTunes. Notably absent are the courses in which I was taught that planting a church is just like starting a Taco Bell, and that closed communion is an unbiblical practice. By and large, CSL is a solid institution, but there is more than a little leaven lurking in the classrooms there. For instance, Dr. Biermann teaches closed communion for a few days, but then you go to another class and in two seconds the professor has told you that it is an unloving and divisive practice that goes against what the Bible teaches! I graduated in May of 2010, so maybe things have changed.

  2. @Mietzner #101
    Those professors who teach such errors should be exposed, asked to recant and thrown out if they refuse – NO MATTER WHAT SEMINARY THEY BELONG TO.

    Think of the cascade effect of their false teachings upon the Church… and have enough love to call them to the carpet.

  3. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #102

    “Those professors who teach such errors should be exposed, asked to recant and thrown out if they refuse – NO MATTER WHAT SEMINARY THEY BELONG TO.”

    Lay people, such as myself, trust that is being done. Not doing it betrays the trust we place in the leaders of the seminaries. Someday these seminarians will be teaching our children and grandchildren. It is reasonable for us to expect faithfulness and right teaching from our seminary professors. It is very hard for us to enforce. We have to trust the leaders. It seems obvious that the errors in the ELCA didn’t originate primarily from among the laity, but in the seminaries by specific individual false teachers enabled by those too weak to confront them and correct them.

  4. I very much appreciate the discussion on the Confessions although I regret that I’ve hi-jacked the thread a bit. I like Sue Wilson’s “Confessional doctrine rides the very edgy line of being a correct explanation of Scripture and becoming equal to, or greater than Scripture”.
    Thanks for taking me on a brief excursion atop this edge.

  5. Pastor Scheer – First, they should be confronted personally in a loving and Biblical way. The witch hunt can wait that long, can’t it?

    Which then means, Mietzner, that the onus is on you. Instead of indicting nameless professors, pick up your phone and tell them that what they taught you is not in keeping with their call and vows.

  6. @Mrs. Hume #103
    I would suggest trusting the leaders and also holding them accountable. The effect of one heretic teaching at a seminary can be crushing if it is not handled quickly.
    To simply trust those leaders without holding them accountable doesn’t show them love – love them enough to remind them to do their job for which they were elected/appointed etc.

    @Rob #105
    Confronting them is the loving and biblical way. They need to be told that they are in danger of losing their job, their standing on the clergy roster of the Synod, and that worst of all they are false teachers, who according to Scripture are bent on hell itself (love them enough to preach the Law to them). Allow for time to recant if they need to study the matter further (while being on leave from teaching). In the end, if they hold to their false teachings, love them enough to throw them out (preaching Law to them one last time in order that they would see their error and repent).

    There is very little love in our Synod because people have traded in God’s type of love (which excommunicates if necessary) for the world’s type of love. False teachers are publicly sinning and deserve to be publicly called to account (that is loving and appropriate).

    If such false teachers are privately whisked away under other pretenses, it doesn’t serve the men that they taught their false teachings to (they need to know their former teacher’s errors and see to it that they are not repeating them). Publicly dealing with these men may sound harsh to our world-loving ears, but it is what is good, right, salutary, and loving to do.

  7. Particularly in response to #106, but others as well.

    Wow…
    All of these accusations of lurking heresy from the seminary derived from one quote, from one student, from one PR publication.

    Just my opinion, but seems to me that there needs to be far, far, more evidence for such grave accusations than what is being shown on this blog. The burden of proof always lies with the accuser. So, let’s see it.

  8. @Steve #107
    The student reported that he is being taught by professors that heart knowledge is more important than head knowledge, which is false – neither can be placed above the other.

    It isn’t “lurking” if it is being quoted in the PR publications of the seminary. I would say that it is being promoted!

    Comment #101 seems to indicate that this may be only the tip of the iceberg…

    I can only encourage those who know more [aka ones taught by these doctors in our church] to proceed in true Christian love (which sometimes says the harsh word).

  9. @Sue Wilson #95

    Sue,

    You wrote,

    We must not interpret God’s word by what the Confessions say; we must continually judge the Confessions according to what God’s word says.

    On this issue, Concerned Seminarian is correct.

    You have unintentionally expressed the ELCA’s position on the confessions: Subscription to the Confessions only insofar as they agree with Scripture.

    Instead, we say, because the Confessions are a faithful exposition and exhibition of Scripture, they can and do serve as the lens through which we read the Scripture.

    Rather than being a danger itself, the latter kind of confessional subscription guards against the danger of each man’s private interpretation.

    TW

  10. Meitzner #108

    My apologies. I shouldn’t make blanket statements.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    My beef is more with the entire tenor of this blog. It seems to be simply another platform to start ripping on CSL professors – using one quote, from one student, from one PR publication as the catalyst.

    I find that to be irresponsible.
    If, in fact, there is heresy being taught at CSL, let’s see it. Produce the evidence. And for my taste, it needs to be more than an off-hand quote from a PR publication. Prof. Kloha has directed our attention to reams of material that is publicly available for scrutiny. I’ve seen nothing even remotely approaching that from those who would accuse CSL of “lurking heresy”

    I’m all for holding professors accountable but let’s see some credible evidence to chew on, not this drivel.

    The student “says” that this is being taught, not that it actually is. As you well know, people can take words in all sorts of ways. How about if we actually find out if it is being taught? At worst, it appears that CSL is guilty of a poor editing job on a PR publication.

    So, this one quote should undermine the reams and reams of material that is publicly available for scrutiny? You actually have to resort to a student’s quote from a PR publication rather than support the accusations from the reams and reams of publicly available material? What does that say? I know, it probably says there’s a conspiracy afoot and it’s all hidden under the covers.

    BJS has hit a new low.

  11. Steve,

    While this thread has gone in several directions (not all of them positive), Pr. Rossow’s original post does not fit your description; quite the opposite. Note his final sentence:

    Pray that this article from the seminary about the alternate route student is an anomaly.

    I trust that it is.

    TW

  12. TW #112

    I read it this way….

    We won’t assume that it’s an anomaly even though there is very little evidence to support anything to the contrary…..

    Instead, we must PRAY that it is an anomaly.

    Very different points of view. The former is the one that the evidence seems to support. The latter is one that assumes the worst based on little, if any evidence. I put myself in the first camp.
    That’s where I choose to be pending any credible evidence to the contrary. Hey, bring it on. I’d like to see it and chew on it for awhile. In the mean time, the reputation of an institution and its professors are being put in harms way.
    “Put the best construction on everything?” Why do that when one can single out a flimsy piece of drivel to get everyone’s juices going?

  13. Steve –
    I will point you to what I said in comment #41
    //steadfastlutherans.org/?p=16201#comment-233644

    I have striven to post my comments in the context of “if” this is happening. I think the article is troubling, it for sure shows a lack of editorial diligence, but it may demonstrate something different. The thing is that we are not hearing much about this from those professors at the seminary whom their own publication credits (by publishing the quote of the seminarian) for teaching this error. Dr. Kloha has thankfully put some of the resources up for us to look at, but not directly addressed the published statement of the periodical. I commend him for putting forward many of the good things which CSL is doing, but would also like to encourage him to speak to this teaching of “heart” and “head” knowledge.

    If in the end, the student is not learning what is actually being taught, the professors at CSL can help the student clear up his understanding. That doesn’t explain how it made it to press. But if (and I say if) this is actually being taught, there is a problem in CSL that needs to be addressed. Wouldn’t you agree?

  14. Joshua #115

    I do agree… IF…. but that’s a big IF that so far has little if any evidence to support it.

    I see two issues;
    1) An editorial issue of a PR periodical (not a theological periodical, but a PR piece)
    2) A lingering cloud now cast over CSL about false doctrine because of said PR piece and a blog that is off to the races with any piece of meat it can find. Note: Just because I say “if” does not make everything okay. Kind of like saying, “Well, IF Mr. Jones stopped beating his wife…” An accusation wrapped in the qualifier “if” does not make it any less damaging.

    Finally, I am always skeptical of those who demand that others explain themselves from every piece of drivel that can be dragged up. Reminds me of the political campaign season which I abhor.

    If it bothers you so much why don’t you call Dale Meyer, ask him about it and report his response. Now that would be a story worth reading. Evidence….evidence…evidence…. You have virtually none. Find some or I doubt that there will be anything further for any of us to discuss here that will be productive.

  15. Steve :
    My beef is more with the entire tenor of this blog. It seems to be simply another platform to start ripping on CSL professors – using one quote, from one student, from one PR publication as the catalyst.

    BJS has hit a new low.

    +1

    Todd Wilken :
    @Sue Wilson #95
    Sue,
    You wrote,

    We must not interpret God’s word by what the Confessions say; we must continually judge the Confessions according to what God’s word says.

    On this issue, Concerned Seminarian is correct.
    You have unintentionally expressed the ELCA’s position on the confessions: Subscription to the Confessions only insofar as they agree with Scripture.
    Instead, we say, because the Confessions are a faithful exposition and exhibition of Scripture, they can and do serve as the lens through which we read the Scripture.
    Rather than being a danger itself, the latter kind of confessional subscription guards against the danger of each man’s private interpretation.
    TW

    Can it be a both/and? I believe in original sin and am incredibly skeptical to accept anything less than the divinely inspired Word of God. A belief, interestingly enough, that come from my lense of the Lutheran tradition which I believe to be built upon Scripture. If I’m looking at anything produced by man with the possibility that sin has tainted it then shouldn’t we still be critical of the confessions?

  16. 105, 113, 116: “First, they should be confronted personally in a loving and Biblical way. The witch hunt can wait that long, can’t it? … the reputation of an institution and its professors are being put in harms way … A lingering cloud now cast over CSL about false doctrine…”

    I’m concerned that the public reputation of teachers may be considered more important than their souls — and the souls of the seminarians they teach and the souls of the people in the pews who will in turn be taught their false doctrine. While the Eighth Commandment teaches us that it is loving to be concerned about a teacher’s public reputation, the same commandment teaches us that it is also loving to help the students guard against the false witness of their teacher. Matthew 18 is thrown in people’s faces willy-nilly, but there is a second half of that chapter that gets sorely neglected — the part where the witnesses to a public sin told it to their lord without first “lovingly” and “privately” giving the offender a chance to quietly cover up his sin. They were lovingly concerned for those who witnessed the public sin and could think it a good example for them to follow. They were also concerned for the soul of the offender and knew it was time to apply the Law.

    We read in the Christian Confessions (Large Catechism, 284): “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”
    http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-3-tencommandments.php

    Private repentance for public sin is no repentance at all.

  17. @Steve #111

    Agree. You are absolutely correct with this statement and following statements.

    I have little doubt that we will continue to find this over-critical, over-interpretation in everything that CSL puts out.

    And all of the many wonderful things that are being said — that Professor Kloha points out — will all be ignored.

    In fact, his words will continue to be ignored:

    Given this article and the subsequent comments, it appears that the users of this site may not be familiar with Concordia Seminary. The observations made here do not reflect the faculty that I am honored to be a part of, nor do they reflect fairly the students.

  18. @Matt B #117

    Matt B,

    Good question, but no, it can’t be both/and.

    Either the Lutheran confessions are true expositions and exhibitions of Scripture, or they aren’t.

    The two forms of Confessional subscription are mutually exclusive. One is an unconditional subscription (this is what the LCMS requires of its pastors); the other is a conditional subscription (subscribing with your fingers crossed).

    A pastor who will not unconditionally subscribe is saying that he (and he alone) will decide what Scripture says; he may accept 99% of what the Confessions say, he may accept only 1% of that they say. You never really know what that pastor believes.

    A pastor who is willing to subscribe unconditionally is saying that the Confessions say nothing but what Scripture says. They are his confession. You know exactly what that pastor believes.

    You need look no further than the ELCA to see the tragic results of a conditional subscription to the Confessions.

    TW

  19. Think of it this way: Would you marry a girl who made a conditional marriage vow? Who would say “I do” on the condition that she gets to decide what “I do” means and which parts of the vow she agrees with?

  20. @Todd Wilken #120

    >> Either the Lutheran confessions are true expositions and exhibitions of Scripture, or they aren’t.

    Would it help to draw back a little, and focus on just part of the Confessions (BoC)? Are the Creeds “true expositions and exhibitions of Scripture”?

    If No, then clearly nor can the Confessions be, if yes, then perhaps so can the Confessions?

    Or…I’m out on a limb up a tree? In any event, I think Confessions::Creeds a better comparison than Confessions::Testaments, no offense meowsing one

  21. @Mark Louderback #119
    No one is being critical of EVERYTHING that CSL puts out. The reality is that CSL is not putting the heretical sub-standard classroom material online. Its not that they are “hiding” anything. Those classes just aren’t the ones that get recorded. I also know that my profs who said these things would not have said them on camera.

  22. @Mietzner #124

    Well, yes, no one is being critical of ANYTHING that Prof Kloha mentions….so, yes your statement is correct.

    But the issue is that you have a statement that can be understood in a perfectly legitimate, understandable way—and instead, it is twisted to say something, such that a prof from the Sem needs to come and say “You guys are not speaking about my Sem. The Sem you speak about I do not recognize.”

    As to your statement…who? Tell me off line. Mark.Louderback at gmail.

  23. 119: “I have little doubt that we will continue to find this over-critical, over-interpretation in everything that CSL puts out.”

    Pastor Lauderback, I wanted to know more about the man who seems hyper-critical of this blog and hyper-sensitive to any criticism of CSL, so I clicked on your name. The hyper-link led me to your church’s website. In your newsletter I read, “Christ Lutheran will be participating in a Community-wide Christmas Day Service on Sunday, December 25 at 9:30 a.m. at Advent Presbyterian Church.”

    Putting the best construction on this, when is the other Sunday service scheduled for your flock on Christmas Day?

  24. @Joey #123

    Ok, We have had an really good and useful side discussion on how we are to regard our Confessions.

    1)CONFESSIONAL AUTHORITY and how it binds each of us and binds us together as well:
    Are they “a” correct exposition or THE correct exposition of Holy Scriptures?

    It is correct to say that the Lutheran Confessions are “a” or “an” correct exposition of the Word of God. It is incorrect to say that they (including the apostles and nicean creeds) are “the” correct exposition of Holy Scripture. Why is that? To say “the” would rule out the admissability of anything beyond the Apostles Creed in the Book of Concord! Why? If we confessed that the Apostles Creed is THE correct exposition of Holy Scripture, then we are saying there can be NO other. This should make this point very clear now.

    To amplify this further: This claim of exclusivity in the word THE is exactly what other christian sects are doing by claiming names , only for their own sect, such as “THE catholic church”, “THE church of Christ”. “THE Orthodox church”. Those groups, by claiming those names for themselves, are schizmatic even with the name they insist upon as being only theirs.

    2) CONFESSIONS VS SYNOD BYLAWS, WORSHIP FORMS ETC AND AUTHORITY:

    Also note what that “a” also means. What about the binding nature of the Holy Liturgy and prescribed worship forms, synod bylaws, and new “confessions” such as “the Brief Statement”?

    We do not ask our pastors, and by extention laypeople, to subscribe to anything beyond the confessions in their ordination vows as the basis for unity in the Lutheran Church.

    So synod bylaws, new confessions such as “a brief statement”, and pronouncements by the CTCR , the group in the LCMS that delivers official pronouncements on curent doctrinal issue are not binding in this way . Yet these things ARE binding in the same way that the Holy Liturgy is binding on all of us. How? the Confessions , Apology Art VII tells us that the Visible (aka holy catholic) church, is a government in exactly the same way family and society are governments. They give us laws that our Old Adams MUST follow. And we are to regard those Laws as God’s own laws meant to curb our Old Adam so that Fatherly Goodness and Mercy can happen.

    3) THE BASIS FOR UNITY:
    These then are not the basis for union that we have agreed upon, nor can these other things, nor even the Confessions make that unity a reality.

    It is important to note that not even the Holy Scriptures can bring about unity in the Church!

    Only that part of the Word of God that regenerates sinful men can do that. That is the point of our confessions saying that unity depends ONLY upon the Holy Gospel “and all it’s articles”. The Confessions are saying that all of Scripture only matters precisely and only because it brings to us that one doctrine of the Forgiveness of Sins. Christ ALONE. And all those other doctrines then become, ALL of them, “fundamental” precisely because they hand us over to the Holy Gospel.

    4)THE LAW . It ALWAYS and ONLY Accuses and kills. It is about ALL we can see and do INCLUDING church stuff:

    Now the most important point in this: We need to be clear that all this is talking about the Law of God. And the Law always does what? The Law always and only accuses. It only Kills. ALL we can see and do in Church is all about the Law ALL the time.

    Luther says (In the prefaces to the catechisms) that Doctrine is like City Ordinances in the visible church that is a government just exactly like a city government is. Pastors are rulers! And the synod officials, by human right (that God has given them in the same way he gives power to civil rulers) rule over pastors. Luther says that while we cannot force anyone to believe those Doctrines, we must insist that the citizenry (pastors and laity) know those laws (ie Doctrines), and submit to them.

    5) WHERE IS THE GOSPEL IN THIS??!!:
    So where is the Holy Gospel in all of this , which is ALONE Faith and the Forgiveness of sins? It is invisible. It cannot be seen. Not even in Holy Baptism, the Supper or Right Administration of whatever. “The Kingdom comes in a way that cannot be seen” Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke. He means it.

    So where do we find this invisible Kingdom that is the “communion of saints” who are the true believers in that “holy catholic church” that consists of both true believers and hypocrites? (Apology VII)

    We don’t find it! It finds us. And how does it do that? This is the amazing part:

    The Confessions tell us that the Gospel comes to us ONLY how? By means of Good Works!
    By Means. This is not just water, bread and wine as means. This also means the Law extorting out of sinful men (pastors and synod officials) the Good Works of Administering these things .

    The Confessions teach us that we should not look for the Gospel apart from Good Works then. But not just any Good Works. We look for the Gospel in those works done by the Visible Church even though they are done by hypocrites and pharisees. We are told that THERE is where we will find the Power that will create the communion of saints.

    Lutherans use the words “in, with and under” to describe the relationship between the Word and the Holy Supper, but these same words also can describe the Word in Baptism and the Word of Law that is in with and under ALL orders or “ordos” of family church and society God has placed in earth to extort Goodness and Mercy out of sinful Old Adams.

    In the earthly government called the Holy Catholic Church Alone we will find Ordinances (aka laws) of Christ such as Baptism, Supper and Confession that bring the Forgiveness of Sins. But also in all the earthly governments of family church and society, we will also find the Law of God in with and under everything we can see and do. This is what God uses to drive any and all Goodness and Mercy that is visible out of sinful Old Adams.

    This is what the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms is all about , the visible Kingdom and rulership that is ALL Law ALL the time in ALL we can see and do in family church and society. And the Law is good because God uses it to extort all the First Article Goodness and Mercy out of all our Old Adams ALL the time.

    Then there is that other Kingdom or rule of God called the communion of saints, where Goodness and Mercy simply happen like “light from the sun” (FC Art VI) . There is no longer any Work in the Good Works! This is an article of faith which means this cannot be seen. And this is alone Faith alone in the Works of Another!

    6) CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES AS THE “LENSES’ THROUGH WHICH ALL THE REST OF SCRIPTURES ARE TO BE READ. THIS IS TO BE CONFESSIONAL AND LUTHERAN:

    It is really useful to note that Lutherans and other Liturgical Churches do not have a “flat bible”. Lutherans do not believe that the Holy Scriptures are all equally important and all carry equal authority! Think about that for a moment please.

    In the Holy Liturgy we sit for the readings of the prophets and apostles. When the Words of Christ are spoken we stand , and we sing aleluia. This means something profound.

    This means precisely that we are to read INTO the entire OT that they are ALL , every word, a “testament” or “witness” pointing to Christ. And this also means that the Apostolic writings on the New Testament are also ALL a testament or witness ALL to Christ.

    So the Confessions precisely tells us to put on those Lenses, the two Lenses of the Words of Christ, and the Words of his uniquely appointed witnesses called the Apostles , in order to unlock and understand the rest of Holy Scriptures.

    Then we are also to put on the Lenses of Law and Gospel to read Scriptures because that is what Christ and the Apostles tell us to do! And what is that exercise of Law and Gospel? Is it to separate out all the passages in the Bible between Law passages and Gospel Passages? Nope. Not even close! Christ on the Cross we are told is both terrifying Law and AT THE SAME TIME terrifying Gospel.

    So what is it to do Law and Gospel if it is not a doctrinal bible passage sorting? The Confessions tell us it is this , especially in Romans 8 (“flesh vs spirit”) and the parables:

    1) Only true Faith can see that the Law ALWAYS accuses and kills us in ALL we can see and do , especially in what we can see and do in church and marriage and vocation. And so only faith can be terrified at God’s Judgement in ALL it can see and do including believing, thinking and emotions.

    2) Only faith does not flee this judgement by WORK and doing more and better. It looks for death rather than life in ALL it can see and do. The part of Sanctification we can see and are commanded to do (“subdue the flesh”) is ALL about dying ALL the time. eg: marriage. everything a pastor does.

    3) Only faith can THEN know to hide ALL it’s best and most churchly righeousness in the Works of Another!

  25. @Joey #123

    Note here Law and Gospel:

    So what is it to do Law and Gospel if it is not a doctrinal bible passage sorting? The Confessions tell us it is this , especially in Romans 8 (“flesh vs spirit”) and the parables:

    1) Only true Faith can see that the Law ALWAYS accuses and kills us in ALL we can see and do , especially in what we can see and do in church and marriage and vocation. And so only faith can be terrified at God’s Judgement in ALL it can see and do including believing, thinking and emotions.
    God’s Earthly Kingdom and Rulership is Law , law , law, law,law

    2) Only faith does not flee this judgement by WORK and doing more and better. It looks for death rather than life in ALL it can see and do. The part of Sanctification we can see and are commanded to do (“subdue the flesh”) is ALL about dying ALL the time. eg: marriage. everything a pastor does.
    the ONLY part of sanctification we can see and do is ALL
    about our death/mortification and is law, law, law, law exactly in the same way it would be for a pharisee. This is especially true in churchly good works and marriage. This ALL too is all about God ruling in, with and under the Earthly Kingdom with the killing Law, that includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies!

    3) Only faith can THEN know to hide ALL it’s best and most churchly righeousness in the Works of Another!
    So then the Heavenly Kingdom or Rule of God that is ALONE of invisible Faith and ALONE IN Christ is about NOTHING we can see and do in our bodies. It couldn’t include anything we can see and do. Why not? ALL those things we can see and do are ALREADY ALL included in that other Earthly rulership of God called the Earthly Kingdom , where God rules through the three earthly governments called, family/marriage, society/custom/government, and the Holy Catholic Church.

    ONLY in this last earthly government, that includes ALL the baptized are we to expect to find the heavenly Kingdom , also called the Communion of Saints, in, with and under that government that is scattered without limits of political , ethnic, church or other visible boundaries and borders

  26. @Todd W

    “they can and do serve as the lens through which we read the Scripture.”

    I think we shall have to continue to disagree. Your explanation does place the Confessions on the same plane as the Scriptures. For if we understand Scripture only through the lens of the Confessions, then we are assuming that a human document must contain all of the pertinent truths in Scripture, and that the Holy Spirit cannot introduce us to a deeper understanding of God’s word.

    But thanks for your reply; the whole Confessions rabbit trail that this thread became has been well worth the trip.

  27. @Sue Wilson #129

    Having a perhaps more radical sola scriptura stance than even the confessionals sometimes do, it is easy for me to feel the draw of what you are saying about the confessions in relation to Scripture.

    But if we limit the question, for the moment, to the Three Chief Symbols, do we not in fact, functionally, treat the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as having an authority equal to Scripture?

    Putting it another way, with sharper focus: Are you holding out the possibility “that the Holy Spirit would introduce us to a deeper understanding of God’s word” that denies the Trinity? The Incarnation? Do we not read Scripture through the lens of the Trinity and Incarnation?

    If that was once possible for the Church to do, write documents that we use as lenses, wht Biblical warrant do we have for saying that at some point in Church history, the Church lost that possibility? Was it not possible that, at least insofar as Augsburg Confession Article IV, the Church wrote something that, like the Trinity and the Incarnation, became a proper lense through which to read the Scripture? If the article on Justification is the one by which the Church stands or falls, then how would the Holy Spirit at some later date introduce us to a deeper understanding of God’s word that reintroduces, say, infused grace into justification? Isn’t the hermeneutical principle of the analogy of faith right and necessary as a lens through which we read Scripture? If not, then prepare for an avalanche of texts of Scripture that on their face certainly seem to say that you must save yourself by your works.

  28. @fws #127

    I may be speaking out of turn, but Synodical doctrinal resolutions are binding on the pastors of the Synod in their ordination vows, though few people know that (even among those on whom such statements are binding). I apologize that I don’t have the exact resolutions in front of me, but 2 Convention resolutions at the 1973 LCMS Convention made them so. The first stated that Synodical doctrinal statements and resolutions are binding on members of Synod (pastors and congregations). The second stated that J.A.O. Preus’ “Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles” is such a binding doctrinal statement. Recall the climate in the Synod at that time: The Synod was fighting against heterodox teachings promulgated by the faculty majority at CSL. The faculty majority refused to disavow certain statements and positions on issues which were not covered in the Confessions. They believed that the Confessions were the only binding statements to which they must subscribe, and their position was not false by that measuring stick. As a result, the Synod needed doctrinal statements which addressed these particular issues, and it needed for those doctrinal statements to be binding on its members.

    In the abstract, this actually makes a lot of sense: We as a Synod say that we are going to read the Bible in this way (“walking together”); we as a Synod write down how we are going to read the Bible; we as a Synod expect our members to all read the Bible that way. Besides, why argue so much about doctrinal resolutions at conventions if they are not binding on our members?

    As far as remaining open to different ways of interpreting the Bible, that is entirely possible. The Synod has mechanisms for registering dissent with the prescribed Synodical position; that process can, has, and does lead to results (either a better understanding by the dissenting party, or change in the “official” position).

  29. Sue,

    You wrote:

    I think we shall have to continue to disagree. Your explanation does place the Confessions on the same plane as the Scriptures.

    No, it doesn’t. Scripture is the sole norm and source of all Christian teaching. The Confessions are the normed by Scripture. I never said that the Confessions contain “all of the pertinent truths in Scripture.” They are true expositions of Scripture on the subjects they address.

    BTW, everyone (even people who say they don’t) has a lens through which they read Scripture.

    Proof? Ask anyone, “What does the Bible teach?” And, unless his answer begins, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” and ends, “…The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” and includes every single chapter and verse in between, then he has a confessional lens through which he reads Scripture.

    I am assuming that you are a Lutheran. I strongly suggest that you speak to your pastor about this. If he is an LCMS pastor, he holds this view (or at least he should).

    TW

  30. @ TR

    “But if we limit the question, for the moment, to the Three Chief Symbols, do we not in fact, functionally, treat the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as having an authority equal to Scripture?”

    In answer, they reflect truths in Scripture; they are not equal to Scripture, even though (as you say) the church treats them as such.

    “Putting it another way, with sharper focus: Are you holding out the possibility ‘that the Holy Spirit would introduce us to a deeper understanding of God’s word’ that denies the Trinity? The Incarnation? Do we not read Scripture through the lens of the Trinity and Incarnation?”

    In answer, yes, we do read the Scriptures through the lens of the Trinity and Incarnation because this is the thrust of Scripture itself, not because the truth of each originated in the Confessions. The Holy Spirit will not lead us to a belief that denies what is already stated plainly in God’s word; of what is the entire context of God’s word. However, the Holy Spirit may choose to make more clear to us the many mysteries of Scripture (the incarnation, the Lord’s Supper, Jesus as True Man and True God, the questions of verses that “seem” to contradict one another. To imply that the Holy Spirit’s desire for us to more clearly understand does not go beyond what the Confessions teach is to claim that the Confessions are the only completely correct, eternal exposition of God’s word and place the Confessions on an equal plane with God’s word, and this I cannot do. I cannot subscribe to the seeming requirement to believe that the LCMS of all the Christian churches has the only doctrine that is inerrant in all of its understanding of God and His word.

    I hope that Concerned Seminarian is correct and that there is a road to adjusting Lutheran doctrine after due consideration by members of the synod.

    As to errors in interpretation, wasn’t Luther accused of interpreting Scripture without relying on the wisdom of the doctrines of the church? Was he right?

  31. Sue,

    Luther was accused a many things.

    The only relevant issue is: Did Luther interpret Scripture without relying on the wisdom of the doctrines of the church?

    The answer to that question should be clear to anyone even passingly familiar with Luther’s writings– No.

    Luther constantly consulted and cited the established doctrines, creeds and confessions of the Church. The Lutheran reformers did the same.

    The practical question I have for you is: Where, exactly, do you think the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions differ with the teachings of Scripture?

    TW

  32. It is good to reflect upon these words from the introduction to the Book of Concord:

    “23] We indeed (to repeat in conclusion what we have mentioned several times above) have wished, in this work of concord, in no way to devise what is new, or to depart from the truth of the heavenly doctrine which our ancestors, renowned for their piety, as well as we ourselves, have acknowledged and professed. We mean that doctrine, which, having been derived from the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, is contained in the three ancient Creeds, in the Augsburg Confession, presented in the year 1530 to the Emperor Charles V, of excellent memory, then in the Apology, which was added to this, in the Smalcald Articles, and lastly in both the Catechisms of that excellent man, Dr. Luther. Therefore we also have determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth either from the subjects themselves, or from the phrases which are found in them, but, the Spirit of the Lord aiding us, to persevere constantly, with the greatest harmony, in this godly agreement, and we intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm and declaration of the pure doctrine. ” (Introduction to the Book of Concord 23)

  33. #126: I just went back to reassure myself that I was not hijacking the topic. Pastor Rossow concludes his article with this plea: “Pray that this article from the seminary about the alternate route student is an anomaly and join us in continuing to steadfastly work so that the truth prevail in our beloved LCMS.”

    In #126 I point out another anomaly: A defender of all that is taught at CSL protested against any criticism leveled at what is taught there. His website on the World Wide Web boasts of only contemporary worship at his church and only a joint service at a Presbyterian Church for his flock on Christmas this year, which falls on a Sunday.

    Does CSL teach this practice as salutary?

  34. @Ted Crandall #136

    Let’s be clear about this: I do not protest against ANY criticism. I protest against this particular criticism which is then piled on to make it seem more than it actually is.

    I quote:

    This sounds like something one might hear from a Methobapticostal seminary rather than the historic bastion of objective truth and the pure Gospel expressed in the historic liturgy known as Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. It is my personal opinion that the faculty of the St. Louis Seminary, on a whole, is characterized by professors who are either captivated by silly post-modern notions of “contextualization” and/or consumed with making the Scriptures and Lutheranism compatible with the emotion laden spirituality of the American Evangelicals.

    And further, suppose I am the worst person in the world: does that change the truth of the unfair criticism?

    Once again, Pr Crandall: Given this article and the subsequent comments, it appears that the users of this site may not be familiar with Concordia Seminary.

  35. @Sue Wilson #133

    Thanks for your reply. There are points where our exchange shows agreement.

    A useful word in a statement of one’s subscription to the confessions is “because.” In the statement, “I subscribe to the confessions because they are correct expositions of Scripture,” the “because” does at least two things (perhaps more, of which I, as a layman, am unaware). One, it gives Scripture priority as the sole basis of our knowledge, as the sole authority. Revelation is our epistemology. Second, it affirms a subscription to the confessions in their entirety; it indicates a belief that everything they say conforms to Scripture. Other formulations of a subscription imply, if they don’t outright express, that the confessions contain incorrect expositions of Scripture, such as when it is said, “I subscribe to the confessions insofar as I think they agree with Scripture.”

    If I understand what you have said correctly, I think the area where we differ is the second, not the first, or at least, not so much in the first.

    The “insofar as” formulation seems in the first instance to protect sola scriptura. As a matter of sheer logic, it does. The trouble is, sheer logic, that is, logic unmixed with anthing else, is a purely hypothetical state. It never actually exists. What most often really ends up happending via the “insofar as” formulation is that, instead of protecting Scripture as the sole source of knowledge, functionally, it establishes my individual autonomy as a second source of authority. It’s really just me being standoffish towards the Church. The vicdtory of Scripture over a rival, second authority, namely, the confessions, turns out to be only a tactical victory leading to strategic defeat by another second authority, myself.

    As Pr Wilken said in few but sufficient words, there is no claim that the confessions are exhaustive in covering all matters on which we might ever know the truth in this life. There is a claim that they are true as far as they go. By this clarification of what is claimed and what is not claimed, we can avoid an unecessary felling of disagreement where disagreement does not actually exist.

    Now, as a matter of history, not logic, it so happened that by the time the confessions were written, practically every faith destroying, lethal heresy already had been formulated, and most of them were formulated in several variations. So far I have not identified an error existing today that did not already exist by 1483. That being the case, it is amazing how comprehensive the confessions turn out to be, as realized empirically when on accumulates instances of dealing with today’s issues and finding that answers to them already have been worked out for us in the confessions.

    Along that line, I get a chuckle out of the Emergent Church thinking that what they are doing is new. Ditto for the Church Growth Movement. The whole idea that such things are essentially new is a snare, a delusion, and a conceit.

  36. @T. R. Halvorson #138

    Yes TR! I focussed on the “a” vs a “the” and you went for the “because”. Excellent work.

    I would suggest that most emergent church folk and the ELCA confuse mercy for MERCY. I am saying that they do Law in talking about what the sum of the keeping of the Law is, which is to do mercy, and then they call that “Gospel”.

    Sometimes they do Law in this way better than we do. BUT. mercy is not the Gospel. It sure seems like it though since Mercy is always undeserved and is about what the Law intends to fruit by it’s work of always accusing and killing Old Adam.

    But to do mercy is to do fruits of righeousness that is what the Law wants out of us. It is not Gospel.

  37. Ted Crandall :In #126 I point out another anomaly: A defender of all that is taught at CSL protested against any criticism leveled at what is taught there. His website on the World Wide Web boasts of only contemporary worship at his church and only a joint service at a Presbyterian Church for his flock on Christmas this year, which falls on a Sunday.
    Does CSL teach this practice as salutary?

    If this discussion is for a future thread, I’ll wait for an answer. But now I’m really wondering, does CSL teach that it’s not a sinful, faithless, suspension-worthy practice for an LCMS congregation to have a joint community service at the local Presbyterian church? Or does CSL condemn such a practice while the DP’s fail to condemn it? Or do we not want to use such harsh words as “condemn” anymore?

  38. @Rev. Paul Rydecki #140

    I do not recall any of my professors saying one way or the other on that. My prof may have condemned it in Worship class, but I just don’t remember. I would assume that they all just assumed we students wouldn’t even consider such a thing. I do remember talking about altar-and-pulpit fellowship and what that means when we were discussing what it means to be a “Synod.”

    The one discussion I do remember about such an event was in talking about a joint communion service between CSL and Fontbonne University (the college next door) during the build-up to Seminex (if I remember correctly, it took place in the early 70’s). That was included in the list of charges against Tietjen and the faculty majority. From the context, the only assumption that could be drawn was that such a practice is “sinful, faithless, suspension-worthy.”

    As to the original question, in my experience (2 years as a student on campus at CSL), I was never taught that such a practice is salutary.

  39. Prof Kloha, the following is a quote from an LCMS pastor who graduated from CSL:

    (((( Quote pulled because it was sent in private email and published erroneously by this commentor ))))

    This is the reasoning behind offering his flock on Christmas Day only a joint worship service at the local Presbyterian Church.

    Is that what Concordia Seminary teaches?

  40. let me pile on here pastor crandall.

    for a confessional Lutheran, a divine service , especially the high holidays, should always include the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. To omit this should seem strange and uncomfortable to a Lutheran christian, even if it is not sin to omit it.

    So to have a joint service with the Presbyterians, who don’t even really agree with us on the two natures of Christ and the Holy Supper. and then to employ some very legalistic defining of the word “unionism” to evade these issues is sort of sad to hear a Lutheran pastor aim at. He is aiming far, far too low.

    He was sworn at ordination to discipline himself according to our Confessions.

    Further Pastors need to recognize the limits of their authority to make such decisions. The discipline of Pastors answering to and respecting and honoring synod officials , and even encouraging to do their duty by showing them that honor, is really important to reign in the Old Adam that is bound to be especially active in pastors. True Synod authority is by human arrangement and not by “divine right”, but at the same time it is. It is God who placed those structures over us to discipline our Old Adams in exactly the same way that city liter ordinances to are the voice of God and must be obeyed.

    And saying that does not diminish synod at all. God is at work in changing diapers, liter and being a pastor all the same way….

  41. @Ted Crandall #142

    I would like to see that comment from the pastor about how he defines unionism in context on second thought dear pastor crandall.

    We often use words like close or closed communion and unionism and such, without always carefully defining what those words mean and what they do not. And we should confess at times, that we have applied them in a not so good legalistic way at times.

    for example the WELS in the past forbid even family members at a dinner table from praying together if they were not in the same synod. and as for closed communion, alot of that needs to be left up to the pastor as a matter of casuistry. he is to make sure that everyone who communes is examined and absolved per our confessions. and at the same time he is not to withhold the holy supper from those who are “worthy and prepared” as defined by the small catechism and Dr Luther’s excellent “questions and answers’ as to preparation for the Holy Supper. Sometimes we have tried to preserve unity and correct doctrine by a policy where no “judicial descretion” on the part of a pastor is allowed.

    And of course, there is the matter of witness and witnessing against error. so public joint worship is in a somewhat different category than what goes on in the home or within a congration that is ruled by it’s pastor.

    I believe closed communion is biblical. But this position is not enhanced by legalistic requirements. ditto with how we deal with unionism.

  42. @Johannes #78

    I believe heart knowledge, as you referenced from Luther, is the work of the third person of the Trinity: THE HOLY SPIRIT, who leads us to all truth, which is unto wisdom.

  43. Ted Crandall :Prof Kloha, the following is a quote from an LCMS pastor who graduated from CSL:
    (((( Quote pulled because it was sent in private email and published erroneously by this commentor ))))
    This is the reasoning behind offering his flock on Christmas Day only a joint worship service at the local Presbyterian Church.
    Is that what Concordia Seminary teaches?

    Regardless whethers one may “agree” about what defines unionism, the LCMS Constitution is pretty clear:
    Under Article VI “Conditions of Membership”: 2. Renouciation of unionism and syncretism of every description such as: b. Taking part in the services and sacramental rites of heterodox congregations or congregations of mixed confessions.” (Handbook, p. 15).
    If a pastor takes part in a joint worship with the local Presbyterian church, he is breaking his vows. He is, in effect, saying, “That provision doesn’t apply to me.” This may be a legalistic view, but the constitution is most clear. His ecclesiastical supervisor needs to have a sit-down with him in plain English.

    I am concerned that this pastor, whatever his alma mater, stands in violation of his vows.

  44. As a grad from CSL I look at the books I was forced to buy for classes. Books such as Simple Church, Almost Christian, Purpose Driven Church, etc. etc. and yes, it makes me very concerned about what is taught and presented to students as acceptable and correct theology. I can’t speak for others, but I was all too often disappointed with what we were taught.

  45. Rev. Willis McCall :As a grad from CSL I look at the books I was forced to buy for classes. Books such as Simple Church, Almost Christian, Purpose Driven Church, etc. etc. and yes, it makes me very concerned about what is taught and presented to students as acceptable and correct theology. I can’t speak for others, but I was all too often disappointed with what we were taught.

    You can browse the FW bookstore and find lots of the same stuff. Whether that is course material or not, I don’t know. Seeing the Purpose Driven Church on the shelves gives me a start.

  46. @Johannes #148
    In my time at Fort Wayne, I never was assigned such reading in my classes. These things may be in the bookstore, but they were not a part of the curriculum.

  47. @Johannes #148

    Here In Brazil, the concordia publishing house run by our synod took the care to translate the most popular text for the chuch growth movement and circulate it. Not a good thing.

    I am not sure johannes and pastor scheer that it is such a bad thing for seminarians to read that garbage. what I am getting from johannes is that the contents of these books were approved of by professors at cls. Of course that is not cool.

    But isnt it a good idea for our seminarians to work through some of that material since it is so pervasive in american christianity? I would really like to see ft wayne offer courses in this stuff, but not to approve of it, rather to help seminarians identify what is wrong with it while they are still in seminary.

    I am certain that many pastors are really tempted by some of this stuff if their church is not growing or is shrinking. alot of laity expect their pastor to … um “DO SOMETHING!!!!”

    and pastors are human and are tempted to reach for this stuff thinking that can use evangelical forms and methods and somehow at the same time hang onto lutheran content. and of course things never work out that way….

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