30 June 2007


I recently purchased CPH's reprint of *The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology* by Charles Porterfield Krauth. Wow. Very good book - but don't ever tell me *I've* got quotitis again. This man can compose entire chapters of strings of quotes. But the best stuff is not what he quotes, but the gems he strings out of his own along the way. There's more than a tad of triumphalism in the work that is very sad in view of what has become of Lutheranism in the late 20th and early 21st century. Clearly NOT what he envisioned happening. But still a good read for all that.

A few of my favorites so far (only on page 161 - a long way to go):

Lutherans are characterized as "possessing liturgical life without liturgical bondage."

"The Lutheran Church does claim that it is God's truth which she confesses, and by logical necessity regards the deviations from the doctrines of the Confession as deviations from divine truth, but she does not claim to be the whole Church."

"She says: 'The Catholic Church consists of men scattered throughout the whole world, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.' She unchurches none of other names, even though they may be unsound. It is not her business to do this. They have their own Master, to whom they stand or fall. She protests against error; she removes it by spiritual means from her own midst; but she judges not those who are without. God is her judge and theirs, and to Him she commits herself and them."

"In the former [Reformed theology], Scripture is regarded more exclusively as the sole source; in the latter [Lutheran theology], more as the norm of a doctrine which is evolved from the analogy of faith, and to which consequently, the pure exegetical and confessional tradition of the Church possess more value."


Timothy May said...

This is a must have book for anyone interested in Lutheran theology and history, especially Reformation and 19th c. Lutheranism.

I was first introduced to it at the seminary and used it extensively for a paper. Since it is out of print(?), I kept it in the back of my mind as a book that should be in my library. It was about 10 years or more after ordination that I found a copy in a used book store.

Although my study these days is taking me to other periods of church history and theology I still say the Krauth book is a "must have" (even if it is a used copy.)

Thus far my testimony . . .

Anonymous said...

Amen to that comment. I celebrated the 2004 LCMS convention by starting to read Krauth. While I didn't end up reading it straight through, rather in bits and pieces, I found it to be a great antidote to the troubles I sensed looming large. BTW, Rast's introduction in this new edition is worth it's weight in gold. I have an older copy. I wish I had the new edition, just so I could have Rast's introduction. Great stuff.

Tom Fast

Anonymous said...

Daggummit, Bill, I have a wedding in just over an hour and you have baited me into pulling out my Krauth and perusing sections of note. Allow me the opportunity to provide you with a couple more juicy quotes.

With the upcoming convention and its inevitable results, I offer Krauth:
"The Lutheran Church alone, of all the great Churches that have had the power to persecute, has not upon her skirts one drop of blood shed for opinion's sake. The glorious words of Luther were: 'The pen, not the fire, is to put down heretics. The hangmen are not doctors of theology. This is not the place for force. Not the sword, but the word, fits for this battle. If the word does not put down error, error would stand, though the world were drenched with blood.'" (p.174)

Another unrelated quote from page 654: "Faith cannot feed on itself, as many seem to imagine it can---it must have its object. The ordinances, the Word, and the sacraments give to it that by which it lives. Faith in the nutritious power of bread does not nourish---the bread itself is necessary."

A related quote from page 656-7: "We repeat the proposition, confirmed by the whole history of the Church, that a moral repugnance to the doctrine that the body and blood of Christ are the medium through which redemption is applied, has its root in a moral repugnance to the doctrine that His precious body and blood are the medium through which redemption was wrought."

One last quote---I'm sorry I'm using up so much of yoru space here. Writes Krauth: "The current view of un-Lutheran Protestantism practically is, that all we need for our redemption is a dead Christ. We are to look back to Calvary to find peace in thinking of what was there done, and at the Lord's Supper we are to look back to the sacrifice once made for our sins. The current view excludes the necessity of a living Saviour in our redemption. According to it, we redeem ourselves, or the Spirit of God redeems us, by what Christ once did, and without any personal work on His part now. To the theology of a large part of the Church it woud be no disturbing element if the divine nature of Christ had been separated from the human after the resurrection. Instead of a robust and mighty faith which hangs upon a living Saviour, and lives by His life, we have a religion of sentiment verging away into sentimentality; a religion which lives by its own thoughts about a Saviour of bygone times." (p. 653)

Back to wedding sermon prep!

Tom Fast

William Weedon said...

Tim and Tom,

Couldn't agree more with you guys. This stuff is fantastic. Why wasn't I required to read it at sem? I find his whole treatment of the right of private judgment to be fascinating. His argument that we do not interpret the Symbols according to the Scriptures or vice versa, but both according to the rules of language, and find that they say the same thing - and we invite anyone else to read them both and pass judgment the same way - I'm still thinking about it, but I find it to be amazing that I'd not ever heard it put so before.

Anonymous said...

"She unchurches none of other names, even though they may be unsound. It is not her business to do this. They have their own Master, to whom they stand or fall. She protests against error; she removes it by spiritual means from her own midst; but she judges not those who are without."

ISTM you quite recently (May 19)you blasted some of us for saying similar things.

? ? ? ? ?


William Weedon said...

Dear Anastasia,

Quite the contrary. I "blasted" (was it so vigorously stated?) the notion of ecclesiastical agnosticism - not being able to be sure of Church outside of the Orthodox communions. Krauth (and I then) asserted the exact opposite: I am quite sure of Church among the Orthodox, for the Word and the Sacraments are present there, though other things are also there which (it appears to me) are in some tension with them.

Anonymous said...

Hope they reissue it. My copy is over 20 years old and wearing thin.

It should be required reading for every LCMS member, lay or clergy, who thinks that there's nothing wrong with patterning LCMS congregations on the Willow Creek model.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, when I said "reissue" I was thinking of the Augsburg Publishing version which was rereleased in a subsequent edition by Fortress Press.

Is the CPH version the same or is it textually updated?

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Hey, when did we publish this? I know it is coming out in a few months, but I haven't seen a copy of it. We did some gentle editing on it, for the sake, frankly, of coherence, and Larry Rast has an excellent introduction to the whole book (worth the price of the book), but when did we actually release it? Bill, are you sure you have that copy with a CPH imprint on it?

William Weedon said...

Of course it is the CPH reprint. You guys started advertising for it this week; Frahm pointed it out, and I bought it. Very good read, but I wish you had not just reprinted (because the type face is rather poor at points). There was no gentle updating that I can see at all.

Anonymous said...

A long, long time ago, there was a wonderful schwatzfest in the Theology dept lounge at Valpo after a Friday afternoon meeting,,,,,, the topic was, was there an American Lutheran theologian or not.
It got down to Piepkorn and Krauth,,,,, Korby held the high ground that it was Krauth, and only Krauth.
Braaten and Jensen had not risen above the horizion yet at that time.

Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

I am quite sure of Church among the Orthodox, for the Word and the Sacraments are present there ...

Then why are we not in communion with them? If Word and Sacrament are present there, there is the Church (so our Confessions tell us). And if the Church be there, how can we be excused for refusing to be in communion? Is it not the sin of schism?

And make no mistake, we do refuse communion with the Orthodox. My first LCMS pastor, before I officially joined the congregation (that is, while I was still Orthodox) refused to commune me at his altar. I saw, and still see, no dogmatic basis for that.

Would you do the same if an Orthodox approached the altar at St Paul's? If not, why would you commune me, whose confession has not changed an iota since I was Orthodox?

I don't think you are right to criticise the Orthodox for "ecclesiastical agnosticism." While you say that you are sure that Word and Sacrament are to be found among the Orthodox, they are not sure that Word and Sacrament are to be found among us. And if they are truly "not sure," than is not agnosticism the most charitable attitude that they can take? I'm with Anastasia: I don't see a lot of difference between the agnosticism about other communions expressed in those quotes from Krauth, and the agnosticism of Khomiakov and the other Orthodox who follow him.

William Weedon said...

Dearest Christopher,

The pain of the divided table has to echo in the hearts of all Christians; we know that it is not as it should be, and we pray that God grant us all the grace of repentance for any ways that we contribute to it, and ask God continually that such divisions may cease among His people.

I would not have communed you as an Orthodox under ordinary circumstances* for a couple reasons: 1) your priest would not have countenanced it, and you were under his spiritual care, not mine; 2) Confessional Lutherans agree with Orthodox that unity at the table pressupposes unity in doctrine. Such unity we are to seek with each other, but no individual pastor or priest can on his own conclude that it exists and act on that.

Behind your question is the belief that Orthodoxy and Lutheranism are essentially the same confession of the Christian faith, cast in different modes. You, who lived in both and love both, are better able to judge about such a thing than those of us who really only know one side from experience.

But it seems to me (given the handicap just stated) that there are differences yet between the two confessions that have not been resolved. At least, several of my friends who have become Orthodox priests say that there are fundamental differences yet, and that we cannot simply view Orthodoxy and the Lutheran Confession as identical. I suspect that they are far closer than either side is willing to admit, and the Lutheran-Orthodox dialogs across the years have been quite fruitful in helping to overcome language divisions that obscure. But close is not yet the same, and sharing together at the holy table presupposes the same confession of the Christian faith.

Recognition of altar and pulpit fellowship may not be reduced to parish by parish, or pastor by pastor, but involves the whole fellowship, and therefore a responsbility to admit only those whom the whole fellowship has acknowledged share the same faith is required as part of the Synodical covenant before I as an individual pastor would administer the Eucharist to another person. As of right now, I cannot commune in ordinary circumstances the members of the American Association of Lutheran Churches. If the Synod extends the right hand of fellowship to them at convention this summer, then they will be welcomed to St. Paul's altar.

You would be quite right, of course, that if the confession is the same, it is schism to remain apart. The dialogs continue to investigate whether or not the confessions truly are the same, and to call each other to greater faithfulness and to the our Lord's great vision, dream and hope of the one family gathered at the one table for all eternity.

Much love in Christ!

*Ordinary circumstances do not include the extraordinary. One example, should a soldier dying on a field of battle who happens to be Orthodox desire the Eucharist from my hand, even though I am a Lutheran clergyman, in such circumstances I would commune him without hesitation. Even though I know that Orthodoxy does not recognize the right to share the Eucharist even in extreme circumstances, Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism both do.

William Weedon said...

By the bye, on the ecclesiastical agnosticism - I have much less problem with Khomiakov asserting this about us, than with former Lutheran pastors asserting this. They have lived under both and continued to place our Lord's body into communicants' mouths with the words: "The body of Christ, given for you." For this to change within a week to "it MIGHT be the body of Christ for you, but I don't know" is what I found intolerable. Because they've lived both sides, they DO know. Or they should. I have been very blessed by the way Fr. John Fenton has spoken on this, by the way, both as a Lutheran AND now as an Orthodox priest.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Weird...I usually get every single book that comes out as a sample. Didn't get this one!

William Weedon said...

Fr. Hank,

From what I can tell, I think I would put Krauth above them all - Braaten and Jensen included.