21 September 2007


Linking a bit to the Krauth quoted earlier. This from Three Books. I apologize that it is rather lengthy, but I wanted to give major portions of the two sections where Father Loehe runs down the same challenges as Krauth and provides the Lutheran Church's answer to them. So, here you go:

The Church is grounded in the Word of the Apostles - and all parts of the Church have access to this Word. But is its sense intelligible to every man? Is the sense of the letter so plain, that it can become the property of every man? If it can, then good! But if it cannot, of what use is it to the Church? An obscure, unintelligible Word cannot become the possession of the whole Church. An unknown x, an interrogation without an answer, a word without meaning, because its meaning is too great, too obscure a word, a spring of living water, but water no one can get at, - can the millions of the universal Church gather around such a Word? It were a fearful mockery of poor mankind, if they were called to such a Church. But the Allmerciful is not a mocker. His Word and His Apostles' Word is intelligible to all. This is the most important point in the doctrine concerning the Church. Everything said in this little book is nothing, if the Apostolic Word, if Scripture, is not clear. Here is all danger. If here we conquer, we have won; if here we lose, then all is lost, lost not for this or that particular Church only, but for the whole Christian Communion on earth. For if the Scriptures cannot be the point of union of the Church, then there is no point of union, because every other in itself, without the backing of Scripture, is less than vanity.

But God be praised, the Scriptures are clear and can be understood by all. No true Christian denies that the Scriptures were given by the Holy Ghost. If so, then the question is suggested, Were they given and written to be understood or not to be understood? Every one will answer, In order to be understood, for they were written for men and for their salvation. If this is the case, and the Scriptures still are obscure and unintelligible, there are only two ways to explain it, namely, the Holy Ghost either could not find a clear and intelligible way to express His meaning, or He did not wish to. The latter is as foolish as it is godless, after it has once been conceded that He wrote for men in order to be understood by them. The former is blasphemous, and, like all blasphemy, silly. For He, Who gave word and speech to the whole world, shall He not be able to speak? He, who leadeth into all truth, Whose Word moreover has this testimony - that it maketh wise the simple, He, Who if we know not what to pray for as we ought, maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered - should He not be able to find, if He wished to find, words which His readers and hearers can understand? Did anyone ever write a letter in order NOT to convey his meaning? Would a wise and pious man, in letters written for the salvation of his friends, use words which they would read over and over again in vain? And the Lord, the Holy Ghost, wrote to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, so many letters, which yet could not be understood, because they had not then a Pope at their side to interpret them? and which could only amaze and frighten them, because they could not understand the will of the Apostles and of the Spirit? And like the letters is the whole Bible, whose style also from of old has been so famous for its simplicity!

It is true that the OT does need exposition, and, without exposition, a good part of it is obscure. But the exposition is furnished: the NT is the explanation of the Old, and because it shows the fulfillment of all the prophesies in Jesus Christ, it throws an irresistible light on every obscurity.


But it is not necessary to go so long a way. First of all, compare the Confession of that Church of which you are a member with the Word of God. If you find it confirmed, your work is done; for no Confession can do more than agree with the clear Word; and if you find that your Confession agrees with it, it is clear that if you remain faithful to it your soul will run no risk. And that will bring you great peace.


It would be otherwise if the Scripture were not clear, if the touchstone were of no worth. But this has been answered; the Scriptures are clear; in matters of faith they do not depend on the explanation of the learned, but their light is right for every eye. Yes, even if they were not clear in and for themselves, they would be clear if theh antithesis were proposed or a question was asked. Just as when flint and steel are struck together they give forth a bright spark, so in comparison with a doctrine of men the Scriptures give forth bright sparks of light. Only look into the Bible and you may not find much; compare what others, what men say on the same subject, and you will see what a difference there is between men's words and God's Word. ... Therefore we venture a delcaration and are ready to defend it if necessary: To compare a human doctrine in a prayerful spirit, an article of a Confession with the appropriate passages of Holy Scripture, is to ask a question of God, and the Lord will not refuse to it light and right and answer. If one does not know, anyone can ask, without offense, WHERE the Scripture speaks on any point. And one can learn WHAT the Scripture says, if he compares one point with another.

[Weedon comments: thus the matters we've been discussing on this blog were very much alive to the Lutheran Church in the 19th century - both Krauth and Loehe tackled them - and thus our Church gave her answer. I think it was a good one.]

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