Archive for October 30th, 2018

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Dr. C. F. W. Walther

IntroductionA controversy that beset the nascent  Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod  (LCMS) was the use of the name “Lutheran”.  People said that we worship Luther or revere him as a prophet.  The first president  of the LCMS and first president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Dr. C.F.W. Walther responded in an article in Der Lutheraner in 1844.  I think this article is highly instructive for us beyond the presenting controversy.  In this quote, we see the reason we should separate ourselves from the less than salutary writings by the Reformer such as about the Jews but be instructed by him when he was in agreement with the Scriptures.

“…we do not call ourselves Lutherans after him in the same way that we are called Christians on account of Christ. We are not called such because we believe in Luther. As highly as we treasure this vigorous witness, in our church we still do not accept so much as a word in matters of faith simply because Luther said it. Rather, we accept his words only in the instance that it can be shown written clearly in the Word of God. We do not accept him as any apostle or prophet but rather we know that he was subject to error and sin like other men. He is not the head of our church. He is not our pope. Therefore whoever accepts everything in blind faith simply because Luther said it is separated from the true Lutheran church as far as earth is from heaven and day is from night.

Just as Luther refused any improper esteem in the church so our church has not improperly honored him. Just as it says in the beginning of the Formula of Concord, which is one of the most important public confession of the orthodox Lutherans:

We believe teach, and confess that the one rule and guide, according to which all doctrine and teachers should be judged is the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and new Testaments alone. Other writings of old and new teachers whatever their name should not be considered equal to the holy Scriptures, but rather all of them together one with another are subject to it and together are taken only as witnesses of how much and at which places after the time of the apostles such doctrine of the apostles and prophets were kept.

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