Synodical Defection from Scripture

The case of Dr. Matthew L. Becker illustrates defection from Scripture by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. This defection is not by the laity, nor by a majority of its theologians, doctors, seminary professors, or pastors, nor its President. This defection is by the Synod as synod.

Dr. Becker is on the roster of ordained clergy of the Synod. He is an impressively accomplished Professor at Valparaiso University. He has done fill-in or vacancy work in congregations, including teaching confirmands. He publicly teaches a variety of doctrines that are, to put it politely, at variance from those of the Synod.[1] These teachings touch on the office of public ministry, creation, the order of creation, the fall, sin, Scripture, and I don’t know what all (but I keep reading more of it, and it’s voluminous).[2]

The problem is not Dr. Becker, for “the Beckers ye always have with you.” In fact, this is the same tired, old, unimaginative stuff from the 1880s, 1920s, and 1960s. The problem is the Synod.

The Synod is the problem at several levels.

  • Politics. The Synod is politically incapable of disciplining someone like Dr. Becker for his false teachings.

 

  • Confessional Reductionism. The Synod’s process so far has accepted Dr. Becker’s claim that the confessions of the Lutheran church in the Book of Concord do not settle the issues of his heterodox teachings, and therefore he is not subject to discipline. Absent from that line of thought is consideration of Scripture itself as the sole normative authority for doctrine in the Lutheran church. The Synod is the problem for absent mindedly going along with Dr. Becker’s defense. So far, the Synod has abandoned the very “Scripture Alone” that the confessions teach. Surely, if a teaching varies from the confessions, it is error. But just as surely, if a teaching varies from Scripture, even if it is on a subject not settled by the confessions, it is error. Dr. Becker has lulled the Synod into confessional reductionism by which Scripture is confined to the confessions, and Scripture can say no more than the confessions say. Scripture cannot deal with any issue that was not in controversy when the confessions were written.

 

  • Causative Authority. The Synod failed to discern that Dr. Becker’s direct attack on the normative authority of Scripture stemmed from a more fundamental and stealthy attack on the causative authority of Scripture. It is stealthy because he rejects the causative authority by simply disregarding it. Whatever Dr. Becker is stealthy enough to omit from addressing in his arguments the Synod so far has been too unmindful to think of on its own. Thereby Dr. Becker gets a pass on the most foundational issue in his case, the causative authority of Scripture.

Before we can get to the normative authority of the Word, which is its authority to establish our teachings on various doctrines, such as sin, salvation, the means of grace, the office of public ministry, and so on, first we must get straight the causative authority of the Word. What causes the Word to have authority, to give us the assurance that it is the Word of God? Those other doctrines, necessary for the purity of the Gospel, are reached after firstly being settled on the causative authority.

As a layman, I have seen this movie before in the American Lutheran Church of the 1960s, and was fortunate enough to be confirmed in the last confirmation class of one of the devout theologians of that synod, The Rev. Dr. Casper B. Nervig. Dr. Nervig was no slouch on the normative authority of Scripture, but he also emphasized the causative authority.

Dr. Nervig spoke on the autopisti of the Word at the Northern Minnesota district pastoral conference, N.L.C.A., Bemidji, Minnesota, April 18, 1939. His presentation was published as, “Christian Assurance: An Exegetical Study of Romans 8:16,” Journal of Theology of the American Lutheran Conference, pp. 337-51, (Danish Lutheran Publishing House, Blair, Nebraska, April, 1941). He said, pp. 345-47:

We can be assured that God’s Word is true because Scripture itself has given us that assurance through the testimony of the Holy Spirit. In other words, God’s word is self-assuring regarding itself. To the world that sounds presumptuous, but it is the sovereign authority of Scripture. This has been called the ‘causative authority’ of Scripture in distinction from the ‘normative authority’’ of Scripture in matters of faith and life. J. T. Mueller says, (Christian Dogmatics, Concordia 1934, p. 121) ‘The causative authority of the Holy Scripture is that by which it engenders and preserves faith in its own teaching through its very word’ (Rom 10:17). ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ This causative authority is exercised directly by the Holy Spirit through the Word bringing out a divine assurance (fides divina). That is the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Of this Quenstedt writes: ‘The ultimate reason by and through which we are led to believe with a divine and unshaken faith that God’s Word is God’s Word is the intrinsic power and efficacy of that Word itself, or the testimony and seal of the Holy Spirit, who speaks in and through Scripture, because the bestowal of faith . . . is a work that emanates from the Holy Spirit.’ Hollaz writes as follows: ‘’By the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, is here understood the supernatural act of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, attentively read or heard . . . by which he moves, opens, and illuminates the heart of man and incites it to faithful obedience.’’ (Quoted by Mueller, p. 121)

In support of this, notice that Paul writes to the Corinthians that his ‘speech and preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and power’ (I Cor. 2:4,5). To the Thessalonians he writes that they received his word as the Word of God because the divine word ‘effectually worketh in you that believe’ (I Thess. 2:13, 14).

Our assurance of the truth of Scripture is based on nothing outside of the Word itself. That Word, by the testimony of the Holy Spirit working through itself, gives the assurance that it is true. This is as it were the declaration of independence of Scripture in which it accepts no superior and not even a peer. It is sovereign, absolutely autonomous, containing within itself the assurance of its authority. . . .

This principle of Scripture comes to us from the Reformation. It received a clean-cut formulation in the early orthodoxy in the words of Joh. Gerhard, who spoke of this principle as ‘quaedam principa, autopista kai anapodeikta, certissima et indemonstrabilia, quae non dependent ex aliis, sed alia ex ipsis.’ (a certain principle, self-evident – or self-persuading – and independent of proof, most sure and beyond proof, which is not dependent on others but which others depend upon).

Having seen the ‘autopisti,’ the autonomous self-certainty of the Word of God we cease to look for any other proof to buttress our faith in its authority. This testimony of the Holy Spirit becomes then in fact identical with faith. Quoting Luther: ‘We do not distinguish the Holy Spirit from faith, nor is He contrary to faith; for He is Himself the assurance of the Word, who makes us certain of the Word, so that we do not doubt, but believe most certainly and beyond all doubt that it is just so and in no respect whatever different from that which God in His Word declares and tells us’ (Erlangen Edition, vol. 58, p. 153). If someone asks, ‘How do you know that the Scriptures are true?’ I answer, ‘I know it is true because I believe it is true.’’ But ‘I believe’ does not mean ‘It is my opinion’ as that word is so often used. This I believe is a certainty which I have from the Holy Spirit working in me through the Word; it is the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

It should hardly be necessary to call attention to it but let me remind you that in no way is this assurance to be defined as experience so that it becomes confused with the testimony of the human spirit. It is independent of our spirit grounded in God’s word.

Now it is true that there is a certain human assurance regarding the truth of God’s Word. It is called fides humana. Internally these proofs are, the unique harmony of its many books and authors, the sublime nature of its contents, the amazing prediction of future events, etc. Externally these proofs are its power to survive centuries of assault, its stupendous achievement in changing men as individuals and in fact whole civilizations, the faith of martyrs and others similar. These are scientific proofs of the divine authority of the Bible. But let us remember that the best that such proofs can do is to provide a sort of a human assurance, as Quenstedt says, they do not beget a ‘divine, but merely a human faith; not an unshaken certainty, but merely a credibility or a very probable opinion’ (quoted by Mueller, p. 123). They can be used by the pastor as a starting point with the hope of persuading the unregenerate to give God’s Word a hearing, but beyond that these ‘proofs’ are totally helpless; after that God’s Word and the Holy Spirit must create saving faith and assurance.

We cannot judge Dr. Becker’s heart. We can judge only his confession. By his confession, he denies the autopisti of the Word. We can see this because he subjects the Word to external tests of truth. These external texts originate in today’s shape of the shifting sands of science, or in social respectability. He rejects the Word’s sovereign independence. That is why, later, when dealing with the normative authority of the Word on creation, fall, sin, salvation, ordination, and so on, he is oceans apart from scripturally normed faith. He won’t let the Bible say anything that might embarrass him in academic circles. There is no room for Luther’s theology of the cross, and suffering (for Scriptural faith) as the precious treasure of the Christian.[3] Under his teaching, our face, our respectability, is the test of the Word, when in truth, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12. He would have us judge the Word, whereas in truth, the Word judges us.

God gave us his Word in providence and in redeeming love. Our stand should be not only below Scripture rather than above it, but as receivers of a gift, not consumers demanding a warranty. Do we really think that if we ask for an egg, our heavenly Father would give us a scorpion? Luke 11:12.

As some call Dr. Becker to repentance, all of us must call the Synod as synod to repentance. Repentance is a gift of God. Let us “in humility [correct] those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:25.

________________________

[1] Matt Harrison, “Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS,” Witness, Mercy, Life Together, January 26, 2015. “When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.” CTCR Response to Matthew Becker Dissent of 6-29-11. Statement of CTCR Executive Committee Regarding Matthew Becker Dissent. See also, Scott Diekmann, “Rev. Dr. Matthew Becker: Nature Interprets Scripture,” Stand Firm, April 16, 2012.

[2] Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Matthew Becker (DOC format | PDF format). See, for example, Fundamental Theology: A Protestant Perspective (New York: T & T Clark, 2014); “The Scandal of the LCMS Mind” (revised), The Daystar Reader (Portland, Ore.: Daystar.net, 2010), 165-184. “Talking Points about Doctrinal Authority in the LCMS,” The Daystar Reader (Portland, Ore.: Daystar.net, 2013) (also at Transverse Markings here, August 20, 2013) ; “A Case for Female Pastors and Theologians,” in The Daystar Reader (Portland, Ore.: Daystar.net, 2010), 126-140; “An Arbitrary Confessional Basis in the LCMS (Pt. 1), Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, July 8, 2014; “An Arbitrary Confessional Basis in the LCMS (Pt. 2), Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, July 8, 2014; “An Arbitrary Confessional Basis in the LCMS (Pt. 3),” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, July 8, 2014; “A Letter from President Harrison to the CTCR,” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, June 12, 2013; “Creationism and the Doctrine of Creation in the LCMS,” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, May 14, 2013; “The Being of Adam, the New Adam, and the Ontology of Pastors,” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, August 1, 2011; “Further Comments on the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral Ministry,” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, June 18, 2011; “Concern over the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral Ministry in the LCMS,” Transverse Markings: One Theologian’s Notes, May 18, 2011.

[3] Walther von Lowenich, Herbert J. A. Bouman trans., Luther’s Theology of the Cross, p. 117 et seq. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1976); and Ronald K. Rittgers, The Reformation of Suffering, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of LutheranCatechism.com.

Comments

Synodical Defection from Scripture — 26 Comments

  1. > Confessional Reductionism

    … and Scripture reductionism …

    have been huge problems for a long time, because (maybe because of peace and plenty?) western society lost its mind many decades ago and has no common sense / understandling of natural law.

    If the scholars and leaders can’t talk common sense and take action, the people will, and I hate to say this, but they won’t even need Scripture nor Confessions to take some basic actions. And damn sure they are not going to care about bylaws.

    So, leaders and scholars: Get real. Get humble. Get it done.

  2. Does anyone know what, if anything, the CoP did in regards to the Becker case? I thought they were meeting last week, and it was supposed to be on the agenda.

  3. Huh, I got chewed out and unfriended by a couple “confessional Lutherans” (LCMS) when i expressed shock and dismay last year around the time of the Ken Ham/Bill Nye “debate”) that they did not believe the Genesis account (6 day creation/YEC) and/or thought it unimportant. Maybe this is why… the cancer is stage 4 already. One of them was also commending Pat Robertson for his attack on Ham after the debate. That didn’t even give the guy pause, apparently.

  4. > 6 day creation/YEC

    Same experience. Watch out for Lutheran educators in this regard. I had a synodically trained, young (and that part is scary) grade school teacher mindlessly spout the standard materialist doctrine of “adaptation” (as in “gills are an adaptation to allow fish to live under water”) and continue to deny that he taught evolution (because he would state that he was not teaching evolution).

    Can somebody who knows identify the truly CONFESSIONAL stream that is running ACROSS historic church confessions? I have more in common with a Baptist or a Calvinist who believes Genesis than I do with such Lutheran sophists.

  5. Can I throw a word out there to consider – inerrancy. When did we stop using that when describing Scripture?

  6. I’d like to submit a comment from a different blog site here because, though the main subject matter was different, I think parts of her line of reasoning is relevant to this discussion. Her name is Linda Kimball and I hope she won’t mind:

    “… For more than 80 years America has been undergoing a stealthy worldview change. Thus the re-definition of marriage follows the re-definition of man as uncreated emergent product of evolutionary energies acting on matter over millions of years. This is why the Obama administration has become the world’s perverse-sex cop intervening in the workings of other nations where sodomy, lesbianism and worse are not promoted and tolerated. America’s tax-payer financed State Department and other federal agencies have not only strengthened the work already done in pursuit of this evil but have initiated additional efforts to crush dissent in defense and promotion of all things unnatural.(Obama offers plan for U.S. to be global LGBT sex cop, Bob Unruh, WND, 12/7, 2011)

    The gay-juggernaut, moral relativism, unfettered killing defined as ‘choice,’ pornography as a Constitutional right, apostasy, and other social evils have been unleashed within America and onto the world because in post-Christian America, scientism (spawn of positivism) and anti-creation evolutionary thinking have supplanted God’s Infallible Word.

    Anti-creation evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion,

    “…a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Michael Ruse

    Michael Ruse was professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada. He was the leading anti-creationist philosopher whose flawed arguments convinced a biased judge to rule against the Arkansas ‘balanced treatment’ of creation and evolution in schools bill proposed in 1981. At the trial, he and other anti-creationists loftily dismissed the claim that evolution was an anti-god religion. (creation.com)

    Scientism, evolutionary biology and evolutionary cosmogonies such as the Big Bang, a fraudulent metaphysical project, are taken for granted throughout the college curriculum, just as they are in all aspects of modern thought and experience, especially within the progressive liberal community. Evolution not only undergirds biological and earth sciences, but also Freudian and Jungian psychology, anthropology, law, sociology, politics, economics, the media, arts, medicine, and all other academic disciplines as well as occult New Age pantheist spirituality and ‘Christian’ theological permutations such as Teilhard de Chardin’s Hindu-pantheist New Religion, Michael Dowd’s God-less evolutionary ‘Christian’ paganism, and the progressive creationism popularized by astronomer Hugh Ross.

    Scientism and anti-creation evolutionism reject the Genesis account of creation together with the Fall and teach instead an inverted exegesis positing billions of years of evolutionary ascent of life from chemicals, man from lower creatures and an eternally expanding cosmos.

    This upside-down view leads to a philosophy of moral relativism because if men were once something else, a genderless blob of matter, and then later on lizards and even later still some kind of ape-like creature, then not only are men going to become something else (i.e., supermen, god-men, super robots) but nothing can be said about transgender, sodomy, bestiality, man-boy-love, and lesbianism since all life forms ascended from a genderless blob of matter generated by a Cosmic Egg which may or may not involve a man-shaped and controlled deity.

    With regard to soul, if life arose from chemicals and then billions of years later man evolved from lower life-forms, then his rational nature, his soul, differs not qualitatively but only quantitatively from the beasts. Like beasts, man is not a person but a creature of the earth. Like them he has no spirit—will, intellect, and conscience. He is an androgynous bio-machine or hominid whose brain is organized by the genome and the genome shaped by natural selection …”

    If the logical flow that Linda submits is valid the future certainly doesn’t look very bright. And it also explains why mainline Protestants are off so far to the Left – they’ve bought into this scheme decades ago. If your LCMS is split, which it appears to be, the pervasive liberal factions have the main culture AND the government on their side.

  7. The causative authority of Scripture is certainly consistent with the historic Lutheran teaching that the Word of God does what it says, and it seems safe to say that (unfortunately) many in our congregations no longer really believe that. Hence the prevalence of “church growth” approaches that rely on human efforts to “reach the lost,” rather than maintaining confidence in the Means of Grace ordained by God. Creation is an obvious example – God brought the entire universe into existence out of nothing in an instant, simply by speaking His Word! Attributing it instead to the interplay of chance and necessity over billions of years erodes our recognition of the sheer power of His Word.

    I have been pondering this statement from Apology IV(III):345(224) quite a bit lately, and quoted it in response to another article, but I think that it is also relevant here: “In temporal matters and worldly courts, there are found mercy and justice. Justice is made certain by the law and by judgment; mercy is precarious. With God, however, it is otherwise, because grace and mercy are promised by an indubitable Word, and the Gospel is that Word.” As humans, we seek elusive certainty and find temporary comfort in “laws” that we naively think govern both the natural and social realms; but true certainty and lasting comfort are only found in the Gospel promises of God.

  8. @Jon Alan Schmidt #8
    Concur.

    To quote Baptist pastor Robert Shindler: “The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures. All the while a man bows to the authority of God’s Word, he will not entertain any sentiment contrary to its teaching. “To the law and to the testimony,” is his appeal concerning every doctrine. He esteems that holy Book, concerning all things, to be right, and therefore he hates every false way. But let a man question, or entertain low views of the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and he is without chart to guide him, and without anchor to hold him.
    In looking carefully over the history of the times, and the movement of the times, of which we have written briefly, this fact is apparent: that where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result.”

  9. @LadyM #5

    I have noticed the de facto deprecation of that word too.

    I think the Biblicist card is being played more and more on lay people by educators who need to keep being creative.

  10. Good article, T.R. Thanks for posting it.

    I am always uneasy with proofs for the certainty of Scripture found in the personal experience, which your quoted author, Dr. Nervig, also picks up on. I have always been content that the Scriptures are what they claim to be, based upon their internal testimony to themselves, and to the God who breathed them out. The Word of God is established on the same principles upon which God Himself is established, and our puny faculties of reason gasp as they receive such profound and eternal truths.

    But of course, there is also contained in such a truth, the very power of God working within His Word by His Spirit, creating faith and repentance, delivering grace and life. We know those who live in, by, and under the Holy Scriptures by the Spirit who enlivens them, as well as by their explicit confession of those Scriptures. We also know those who pretend to confess them, but in reality, deny both the Scriptures and Him who spoke them.

  11. Dear T.R.,

    Thanks for a fine post. I think you have a better sense for the theological problems here because of your personal background in the American Lutheran Church. This is the same reason Professor John Pless at CTS Fort Wayne understands many of these issues and can address them intelligently.

    I gave a paper at the Lutheran Concerns Association in January 2015 about how the Brief Statement of 1932 of the LCMS was intended to defend the plenary authority of the canonical Scriptures against the “limited authority” position found in the old Iowa Synod, the old ALC, and the new ALC. That paper should eventually be published in the Lutheran Clarion (see online here: http://www.lutheranclarion.org) and its video may also be distributed.

    One of the conclusions I drew in that paper was that by arguing for church fellowship with the old ALC that the “Statement of the 44” was in fact arguing for a position of “limited authority” for Scripture.

    I would remind the readers that the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau was the organization that published that Statement and which continued to promote its theological errors thereafter. Many pastors and laymen were “bamboozled” by the language in the “Statement of the 44” that affirmed inerrancy, while being completely ignorant of what was at issue in the matter of ALC fellowship. The ALPB continues on its mission today, as you can discover for yourself here: http://www.alpb.org

    All of the issues regarding revelation and Scripture were worked out by the orthodox Lutheran theologians in the 17th century, as they combatted the Socinians and early rationalists. The first significant treatise on the subject was by Aegidius Hunnius titled: Tractatus de maiestate, fide, autoritate et certitudine sacrae scripturae (1588) .

    The most thorough summary of the orthodox Lutheran position on Scripture can be found in Robert Preus’ two works: The Inspiration of Scripture and The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism, Volume One (both by CPH, at http://www.cph.org ). Johann Gerhard’s volume On the Nature of Theology and Scripture is now in English, also from CPH.

    Dr. Becker’s position would be recognized by the orthodox Lutherans as Socinian or as “rationalist.” I hardly need to remind LCMS members that our synod was founded to escape the influence of rationalism in Saxony, which Walther and his peers were fighting in their parishes and in the universities. Dr. Becker knows this, I am sure. He and others of his ilk despise Walther and Pieper.

    Dr. Becker in his writings talks about how Christians today have to “sacrifice their intellect” in order to affirm the plenary inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture. It is true that I have had to sacrifice many career opportunities because of my adherence to the full authority of Scripture and my agreement with the public doctrine of the LCMS, but I have hardly had to “sacrifice my intellect.” Perhaps Dr. Becker confuses “career opportunities and advancement” with “intellect.” Many people do.

    The fact is Dr. Becker has “sacrificed his faith,” at least certain portions of it, if it is possible to sacrifice a significant part without losing the whole. He may be, by this time, a complete unbeliever and apostate, putting up a “good show” for career or social purposes. I can’t judge that, nor can anyone else. We can only judge on the basis of what he has written and affirms, but that is evidence enough to see that he is not a “Lutheran” in any true sense of that term.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  12. @mbw #11
    Thanks for the reply. Isn’t this one of the major issues that we contended with the Left on during the Preus years? We now get a lot of “infallible” and “right” and “divine” and “inspired,” all of which Holy Writ is; but whenever we omit “inerrant” aren’t we leaving the door open to all kinds of new doctrines? Is it any wonder our beloved Synod is floundering in search of solid ground? Did Kloha just reflect what most are thinking in his “private” musings? And, lastly, isn’t T.R. just reiterating what ACELC has been promoting for five years – for the synod to repent of its errors?

  13. @Brad #12

    Those are helpful comments, Brad. Thanks for taking the time to contribute them.

    Probably I should have included somewhere in the article something like the following:

    “He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew 7:29

    The way the people recognized the authority of Jesus is the same as the way we recognize the authority of Scripture. No one who recognized the authority of Jesus was thinking, well, science confirms him, and it would respectable amongst our elite academics to believe him.

    Lutherans (and for that matter, many other Christians too, even if their formal doctrine says otherwise), know that:

    “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” Small Catechism, Creed, Article III, Explanation.”

    The way the Holy Spirit uses the Word to call us, to enlighten us, to sanctify us, to keep us, is the way He uses the Word to convince us that it is the Word of God, that it has his authority.

    Therefore, it becomes a question of spirits.

  14. Dear BJS blogger,

    To add to my last comment, Luther says this about preachers who are afraid of “sacrificing intellect”, which is apparently Becker’s fear:

    “Whoever strives for glory in the preaching office and wants to be seen by the world as great, learned and wise–is an unbeliever. Since he himself is an unbeliever, how can he preach rightly?” (Erlangen Ed. 44:266-267)

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  15. Most of this…… No all of this boils down to this!

    Catechesis: The Quiet Crisis

    William E. Thompson

    “It did not take long for me to realize that the faithful members of
    this study-group did not have Luther’s Catechism as a basis on which to
    stand. They had either forgotten through disuse what they had learned of the
    Catechism or they had simply never been taught the Catechism in the first
    place. I then asked for a show of hands by those members of the class who
    had learned the Catechism before confirmation. To my shock, only two out of
    a group of about twenty-five had been catechized with the Small Catechism.
    The common reference-point which I naively assumed would be there in any
    congregation to which I was called was not there.
    For Luther, the Catechism is a prayer-book, not merely a book of
    doctrine.
    I believe that this quest for easy formulae for catechesis is in part the
    result of a vocational crisis among pastors. Catechesis, preaching, the
    liturgy, the sacraments, and personal confession and absolution are no
    longer believed to be the primary means of pastoral care. The life of the
    church outlined in the Catechism has been supplanted by marketing
    schemes, programs, methods of persuasion, and “leadership” which all
    promise success. The church and the ministry are being viewed
    increasingly as social or, even more disturbingly, as political phenomena

    which change as society changes.”

    http://www.lutheransonline.com/lo/364/FSLO-1308359364-111364.pdf

  16. It’s necessary but insufficient to discuss the inerrancy or causative authority of Scripture, especially when what more seriously ails Missouri is the proper interpretation of Scripture. (And by “more seriously,” I mean that this disease is widespread and ignored.)

    The former is what has plagued the Synod since her flirtation with post-Kantian European Lutheran theology as well as the incestuous theological relations with the ALC, the progeny of the old Iowa Synod.

    The latter infection is more deeply situated within the very corpuscles of the Missorian mindset. Experience, experience, experience–not clear propositions of Scripture or clear deductions from Scripture passages–is how some in Missouri interpret the Bible.

    Just ask Gerhard Forde and Werner Elert, and those who advocate for these their false teachers in the Synod today.

  17. In the Gospel lesson this morning (Old Standard Series) Christ is victorious over Satan as He declares, “It is written.”

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