A Catechism on the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry
as it relates to the False Teaching of the
*WELS, ELS, CoLC and their followers*WELS Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod; CoLC Church of the Lutheran Confession; ELS Evangelical Lutheran Synod (The Norwegian Synod)By Way of Introduction
- 1. Why is true Christian love an important matter to consider when presenting a doctrinal paper on a controverted subject such as the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry?
- 2. What does the Bible say about true Christian love in relationship to God’s Word?
- 3. What would be considered a violation of true Christian love in defense of one’s doctrinal position?
- 4. Is there a danger in “irenics” as well as “polemics”?
- 5. In a polemical paper, what is the greatest love we can show to those who teach, defend, and support false doctrine?
- 6. What danger must we always be aware of and avoid in the defense of what is clearly taught in Scripture?
- 7. If theses are used for the purpose of settling doctrinal differences or to establish oneness of faith, what must always be kept in mind?
- 8. In the matter before us, what must be our initial consideration?
- A Clear Understanding of Terms
- 9. What is a doctrine?
- 10. What doctrine for example, is set forth in the clear words of Scripture?
- 11. What doctrines, for example, are properly drawn from clear Bible passages?
- 12. Should a doctrine ever be established on the basis of silence on the part of Scripture?
- 13. What is a divine institution?
- 14. Is the Civil Government a divine institution?
- 15. Is the “form” of the civil government a divine mandate?
- 16. Is Marriage a divine institution?
- 17. Is the outward form of marriage commanded by God?
- 18. Is the Home and Family Unit a divine institution?
- 19. Does the Bible anywhere call the home or family unit a divine institution?
- 20. Why, then, do we Christians regard the home and family unit as having been set aside by God in a class by itself?
- 21. Does God permit us, in Christian liberty , to forsake or dissolve the home and family unit for some other “forms” such as a commune, a youth camp. etc.?
- 22. Are, then, communes, schools, day-cares, boys and girls clubs, or various other gatherings of adults and children, to be regarded as being instituted by God and therefore on the same plane with the home or family unit?
- 23. Is the position or office of the father in the home a divine institution?
- 24. Is the office of a Christian day school teacher on the same plane with the office of the father in the home inasmuch as the office of the school teacher is established through the “gift of the common faith of the believers” to perform some of the functions which God has made the father’s responsibility?
- 25. Is it right to assume that God has not instituted any other office in the home which is on the same level with that of the father?
- 26. But couldn’t such an office be established by the Holy Ghost “through the gift of our common faith,” for example, couldn’t the pastor be over or at least on the same level with the father in the home?
- 27. What is exegesis?
- 28. What is correct or “sound” exegesis?
- 29. How is this wrong method of exegesis used by the Wisconsin Synod, CoLC, ELS, and by their followers in the development of their ” new” doctrine on the Church and its Ministry?
- 30. Is it correct to refer to their doctrine on Church and Ministry as a “new” doctrine?
- 31. How was this “new” doctrine dealt with by the Missouri Synod?
- 32. What is the incorrect method of Bible interpretation called by which the Wisconsin Synod develops its doctrine on Church and Ministry?
- 33. How was this method of Bible interpretation introduced into the Wisconsin Synod?
- 34. What was the Wisconsin Synod’s method of Bible interpretation prior to 1908?
- 35. How did Luther and the early Lutheran theologians contend for “sound” Bible interpretation?
- 36. How did the Old Missouri Synod theologians contend for “sound” Bible interpretation?
- 37. What, then, is the chief duty of an exegete?
- 38. Did the Wisconsin Synod ever have a professor who called their attention to the nuda Scriptura especially also in the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry?
- 39. What ever happened to Dr. Hoenecke’s Dogmatik?
- 40. Why are so few references made to the teachings of this great spiritual leader of the Wisconsin Synod?
- 41. Is it correct to refer to the “new” Wisconsin Synod’s teaching on Church and Ministry as a “development” of doctrine?
- 42. Why is it important to have these things in mind as we approach a discussion of the False Doctrine on Church and Ministry as it is set forth, defended, and upheld by the WELS, CoLC, ELS, and their followers?
- The Status Controversiae (on the Church)
THE STATUS CONTROVERSIAE (on the Ministry)
- 43. How is the word ekklesia ( church) used, not according to its etymology, which is of man, but according to its ” usus loquendi,” namely, its actual use in the Bible, which is simply permitting the Bible to interpret itself?
- 44. What is the Una Sancta or the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints?
- 45. What is the Local Congregation “as God sees it?”
- 46. How is it possible for the true believers (who are visible to God only) to gather themselves together to perform their God-given functions and responsibilities?
- 47. By what term is this visible assembly also referred to in Scripture through which the true believers (who are known to God alone) can with one another carry out their God-given duties and responsibilities?
- 48. Approximately how many times is the word ekklesia (church) used in the Bible to designate a Local Congregation both in the broad sense (as men see it), which may include hypocrites, and in the narrow sense (as it is visible to God only), which is a part of the Una Sancta?
- 49. Are there any passages in Scripture in which the word ekklesia (church) can refer to nothing else but the visible Local Congregation?
- 50. Since God has 1) commanded certain functions to be carried out by true believers in any given locality ( See: Question #45 ) , and since 2 ) these functions can be carried out only through a visible assembly of professing Christians ( See: Question 46 ) , and since 3) such a visible assembly is called ekklesia (church) in the Bible ( See: Questions #47-49 ) , as what must such a visible communion be regarded?
- 51. Why must the local visible congregation be regarded as a divine institution?
- 52. Since the Wisconsin Synod, the Church of the Lutheran Confession, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and their followers, teach correctly with regard to the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, where does their false doctrine have its beginning?
- 53. What power or authority, of course, does the Lord give to any and every true believer?
- 54. But are not two or three Christians, or any group of true believers gathered in Jesus’ name, properly called “church,” and do they not therefore possess the full power and function of the Keys?
- 55. But aren’t the true believers, in the final analysis, the only members of the Church, because of whom the local visible assembly is called a “church ?”
- 56. On what does the Wisconsin Synod and their kindred spirits base their peculiar false teaching?
- 57. Why is this a plain and shameful abuse of these Scripture texts?
- 58. Can we prove from Scripture that any one professing Christian is a true believer who, as such, possesses the full power and authority of the Keys?
- 59. Can we prove from Scripture that wherever two or three professing Christians are gathered in Jesus’ name, there is at least one true believer who, as such, possesses the full power and authority of the Keys?
- 60. Can it be proved from Scripture that wherever the Gospel is in use (no matter how casual or infrequent) there are true believers?
- 61. Can it be proven from Scripture that there are true believers wherever professing Christians, in a certain locality, gather regularly and consistently about the Word of God and the Sacraments, establish the office of the ministry in their midst, and exercise the full function of the Office of the Key, etc.?
- 62. How does the Lord God describe the functions of the New Testament church in the words of the Prophet Isaiah?
- 63. How is it that the Lord God is evidently referring to the local visible church in this Isaiah passage?
- 64. But must not this Word of God in Isaiah 55:10-11, refer in general and in the final analysis to “the broad testimony or the total confession of the New Testament Church as it appears here and there, now and then in the world” as it is preached and taught in personal mission work, in the congregations, in parochial schools and seminaries, in the home and among Christians here and there who gather about the Word?
- 65. But doesn’t this make the local congregation and the pastoral office a “means of grace” through which alone the Holy Ghost works faith and makes people true believers?
- 66. Does this in any way deny the efficacy of God’s Word outside of the local congregation?
- 67. Why is this precious promise of such great importance?
- 68. How do the theologians of the WELS, CoLC, and ELS “make up” their own meaning for the term “divine institution” and thereby “deceive the hearts of the simple” by causing them to think that they are still holding fast to the Lutheran Confessions, the Brief Statement, the writings of Luther, Walther, Pieper, and other orthodox Lutheran theologians?
- 69. Since God requires the local Christian congregation to establish the Office of the Public Ministry in its midst ( See: Questions #45 and 46 ) , where alone must we look to determine the definition of “public ministry?”
- 70. What public ministry did the Lord Jesus establish when He called His twelve apostles?
- 71. How does the Holy Ghost identify the Apostolic Office with the Office of the Public Ministry committed to the pastor of a local congregation?
- 72. From where does the public office of the ministry receive its initial commission?
- 73. In what words does the Holy Ghost spell out specifically the functions, duties, qualifications, authority, responsibilities of , and the honor due to the office of the local pastor as distinct from the spiritual priesthood?
- 74. On the basis of these clear Scripture texts (without any historical, linguistic, or exegetical maneuvering, or rationalization), as what must we, therefore, regard the office of the public Ministry of the Word?
- 75. In these passages, does the Lord God give the various functions, duties, responsibilities, authority, and honor to, as well as describe the various qualifications of any other specific office in the church besides the Pastoral Office?
- 76. Why, then, must we conclude, in the light of these clear Bible passages, that the public Ministry of the Word is the same as the Pastoral Office, and that it is the only divinely instituted office in the church?
- 77. How do the WELS, ELS, CoLC, and their followers, use the term “public ministry?
- 78. Does the Bible tell us anywhere that whatever the local congregation, or any group of professing Christians, establishes, is a divine institution?
- 79. How are the ministers of the Word (pastors) called into their office?
- 80. Is not the office of deacon, referred to in Scripture, another ministerial office on the same level with the pastoral office?
- 81. Can there be more than one pastor in a congregation?
- 82. Are theological seminaries, parochial schools, or teachers’ colleges divine institutions?
- 83. What about the offices of parochial school teachers and seminary professorsare they not to be considered divine institutions?
- 84. What about a synod and synodical officers?
- 85. Why is a regular “divine call” extended, in many church bodies, to seminary professors, assistant pastors, and parochial school teachers, but not to Sunday school teachers, synodical officials, trustees, deacons, etc.?
- 86. Does it not deprecate and demean the work of assistant pastors, seminary professors, parochial school teachers, Sunday school teachers, and incumbents of other auxiliary offices to insist on the basis of Scripture that their offices are NOT “divinely instituted” and that their incumbency in such offices is NOT by the “divine call” of the Holy Spirit?
- 87. Is not the insistence that the local visible Christian congregation is the only divinely instituted functioning unit of the Holy Christian Church, and that its Pastoral Office is the only divinely instituted form of the public ministry and, as such, the highest office in the church, a matter of “ceremonial legalism” and an infringement upon the glorious liberty of the sons of God?
- 88. Were there such false prophets in the early days of the New Testament church who rebelled against the Word of God in this matter?
- 89. How is the false teaching of the WELS, ELS, CoLC, and their followers, almost an exact parallel to the rebellion of Korah?
- 90. How, then, must we regard those who teach, uphold, and defend the false teaching of the WELS, ELS, CoLC, and their followers, on the Church and its Ministry?
- 91. Of what sheep’s clothing should we always be aware?
- 92. Of what great danger is their false teaching on the Church and its Ministry?
- 93. What, therefore must our prayer always be in these matters?
1. Why is true Christian love an important matter to consider when presenting a doctrinal paper on a controverted subject such as the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry?
Answer: Because love is the epitome of what our life and conduct should be as Christians in our relationship toward God and toward our fellowmen. Therefore the motivation for such a dissertation should be: 1 ) Love for the Lord and for the pure teachings of His Word as they are set forth in the clear passages of Holy Writ (the analogia fidei). 2 ) Love for those whom the Lord has entrusted to our care and for whose souls we must one day give account that they be earnestly warned against every form of error and pointed always, without equivocation, to the pure teachings of Scripture. 3 ) Love for those who are faithful pastors and teachers that they may be strengthened in their stand upon the Word of God and upon it alone, and 4 ) Love for those who are presently teaching, upholding, and defending that which is contrary to Scripture that they may recognize their error, lay aside all pride and prejudice, and humbly bow to the clear Scriptures as the only Source and Norm of Christian Doctrine. In this way we are to teach and hold fast to the Truth in love (E ph. 4:1-2,14-15).
2. What does the Bible say about true Christian love in relationship to God’s Word?
Answer: The Lord Jesus says in John 14:15 , ” If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” and again in John 14:23 , ” If a man love Me, he will keep My Words.” In I Cor. 13:6 , we are told that charity (love) ” rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth!” True Christian love will then follow that Word of God in Rom. 16:17 , where the Apostle Paul urges us to “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.”
3. What would be considered a violation of true Christian love in defense of one’s doctrinal position?
Answer: It would be a violation of Christian love 1 ) merely to denounce something without a Scriptural explanation to support such a denunciation; 2 ) to let the defense of one’s doctrinal position degenerate to disparaging remarks about the character of individuals instead of setting forth the clear teachings of Scripture which are involved; or 3 ) to quote Luther and the Lutheran church fathers of remote or more recent date without taking into careful consideration whether or not the quotation, according to its context, fits exactly into the matter under discussion.
4. Is there a danger in “irenics” as well as “polemics”?
Answer: Yes, indeed! In polemics, there is the danger of simply arguing to win, magnifying nonessential differences, and thus fostering separatism. In irenics there is the danger of compromising a Truth and of minimizing what God plainly says in His Word. Thus irenics may lead to doctrinal indifference, unionism, and syncretism. True polemics, however, should have no other aim than to bring about peace (irenics), and true irenics will find its aim accomplished only through controversy (polemics).
5. In a polemical paper, what is the greatest love we can show to those who teach, defend, and support false doctrine?
Answer: We should use clear and plain language which does not permit of ambiguity. The true doctrine must be set forth according to the “analogy of faith.” The Holy Scriptures must not be presented in a “mealy mouthed” fashion so as not to “offend” the errorist, or “watered down” for the benefit of those who have “itching ears.” A straightforward, honest, presentationunbending and unyielding as far as the clear Scriptures are concernedmust characterize a polemical paper in which the Truth is set forth in love. ( Eph . 4:14-15 )Top
6. What danger must we always be aware of and avoid in the defense of what is clearly taught in Scripture?
Answer: We must beware of overstating our doctrinal position so that, in defending the Truth, we ourselves become guilty of error (as Flacius went too far in his defense of the Doctrine of Original Sin, or Amsdorf who taught that “good works are detrimental to salvation” in his defense of the Truth against Major).
7. If theses are used for the purpose of settling doctrinal differences or to establish oneness of faith, what must always be kept in mind?
Answer: The parties to the negotiations must be extremely careful and certain, beyond doubt, that the same meaning is placed respectively upon all of the words, phrases, or terminology used in such a union document. The terminology must be understood absolutely the same (I Cor. 1:10) by all parties concerned and antithetical statements may well be inserted to bring the doctrinal position into sharper focus.
8. In the matter before us, what must be our initial consideration?
Answer: We must consider a uniform definition of terms applicable to the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry so that the points of controversy may be defined as clearly as possible.
Answer: A doctrine is any teaching which is set forth in the clear words of the Bible or properly drawn from such Bible passages.
10. What doctrine for example, is set forth in the clear words of Scripture?
Answer: The Doctrine of the Real Presence of our Savior’s true body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, for Jesus says of the bread, ” This IS My body,” and of the wine, “This IS My blood.” (Matt. 26:26-28)Top
11. What doctrines, for example, are properly drawn from clear Bible passages?
Answer: The Doctrine of Infant Baptism is properly drawn from the Savior’s Words in the great Commission, “Go ye therefore and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19) Also, the Doctrine of the Trinity is rightly drawn from passages which describe the true God as “one” God, and from passages which speak of the three distinct persons in God. (Deut. 6:4; I Cor. 8:4; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14; Num. 6:24-26)
12. Should a doctrine ever be established on the basis of silence on the part of Scripture?
Answer: On the basis of silence no doctrine should be established either in a negative sense or in a positive sense, that is, nothing should be either required or forbidden with regard to something on which Scripture is silent and then declared to be a doctrine.
Examples: 1) If, because the Bible neither mentions a synod, nor gives an example of a synod, nor gives certain functions to a synod, we hold that the formation of a synod is contrary to God’s Wordthis is establishing a doctrine on the basis of silence. 2) If, on the other hand, we teach that, although Scripture does not mention a synod, yet, because it is made of many congregations (of which the Bible does speak) and has certain functions which are similar to that of a local congregation (of which the Bible does speak), therefore, we must regard a synod as a divine institution on the same plane with the local congregationthis is also establishing a doctrine on the basis of silence. These examples, of course, are “eisegesis” which simply means to put something into Scripture which is not there. The Lord God says concerning His Word, ” Thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it!” (Deut. 12:32)
13. What is a divine institution?
Answer: A divine institution, strictly speaking in the light of Scripture, is anything spoken of in the Bible which God has ordained, authorized, or put into a class by itself.
14. Is the Civil Government a divine institution?
Answer: Yes, it is, because the Bible plainly states, “The powers that be are ordained of God ,” and “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” (Rom. 13:1-7)
15. Is the “form” of the civil government a divine mandate?
Answer: No, the specific form of the government is nowhere commanded by God in the Bible. The only requirement is that there are those who govern and those who are governed. How governments are to be established and the rights of the citizenry are notTop set forth in Scripture.
16. Is Marriage a divine institution?
Answer: Of course it is, because the Lord God, in His Word, plainly states of marriage, “What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” (Matt. 19:6)
17. Is the outward form of marriage commanded by God?
Answer: Yes, indeed, as far as the Scriptures plainly speak of the specific duties of husband and wife. ( I Peter 3:6-7; Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:22-25 )
18. Is the Home and Family Unit a divine institution?
Answer : Yes, indeed it is!
19. Does the Bible anywhere call the home or family unit a divine institution?
Answer: No, it does not!
Answer: Because this doctrine is properly drawn from those clear Bible passages which speak of the divine institution of marriage and the blessing of children, and also from those which plainly set forth what God requires of parents and children (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:6; Gen. 1:28; Prov. 23:22; 30:17; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20; I Tim. 5:4,8) . If God therefore commands or assigns various duties and functions to those who belong to a household or family unit, such a unit, in itself, must be a divine institution and commanded to exist in order that such God-given responsibilities and functions may be carried out.Top
21. Does God permit us, in Christian liberty , to forsake or dissolve the home and family unit for some other “forms” such as a commune, a youth camp. etc.?
Answer: To substitute some man-made device, with regard to which the Bible is silent, for a divine institution which exists by God’s command, so that such a device is made, in Christian liberty, to take the place of that which God has instituted, is absurd.
22. Are, then, communes, schools, day-cares, boys and girls clubs, or various other gatherings of adults and children, to be regarded as being instituted by God and therefore on the same plane with the home or family unit?
Answer: Certainly not, in the light of the clear Scripture passages listed above( See: Question #20 )Not even if such groups are established through “the gift of the common faith of Christians,” such as a Christian Day School, nor if such groups are established by the government or by government charter or license.
23. Is the position or office of the father in the home a divine institution?
Answer: Inasmuch as the husband is called the “head” of the wife, whom the wife is to obey and to whom she is to be subject, and inasmuch as the father is responsible for the upbringing of his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and is required to support his family, his position or office in the home is indeed a divine institution. ( Eph. 5:22-25; 6:4; I Tim. 5:8 )
24. Is the office of a Christian day school teacher on the same plane with the office of the father in the home inasmuch as the office of the school teacher is established through the “gift of the common faith of the believers” to perform some of the functions which God has made the father’s responsibility?
Answer: The office of the Christian day school teacher is an office of help to the father in the bringing up of his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The father himself is responsible to God for what his children are taught in the Christian day school. The office of help is NOT a divine institution since it is neither mentioned in Scripture nor its functions specified.
25. Is it right to assume that God has not instituted any other office in the home which is on the same level with that of the father?
Answer: Certainly, what is not spoken of in the Bible cannot be regarded as a divine institution.Top
26. But couldn’t such an office be established by the Holy Ghost “through the gift of our common faith,” for example, couldn’t the pastor be over or at least on the same level with the father in the home?
Answer: Lutheran doctrine always binds the Holy Ghost to His Word, not to the sanctification of Christians (sanctification in the narrower sense) which is and always will be imperfect in this life because of our sinful flesh and cannot be relied upon for the establishment of doctrine.
27. What is exegesis?
Answer: Exegesis is Bible interpretation .
28. What is correct or “sound” exegesis?
Answer: “Sound” Bible interpretation is when the interpretation of Scripture does not conflict with that which is taught in the clear Bible passages (the analogy of faith) which need no interpretation and upon which all of the doctrines of Scripture are based. Consequently, “sound” or correct exegesis is not based upon the etymology of the words, or “light” from man’s historical research, or from a person’s “regenerate ego”or “Christian consciousness,” or “t hrough the gift of their common faith.”
29. How is this wrong method of exegesis used by the Wisconsin Synod, CoLC, ELS, and by their followers in the development of their “ new” doctrine on the Church and its Ministry?
Answer: It is used 1) by their over-emphatic appeal to etymology; 2) by their emphasis on the operation of the Holy Ghost “through the gift of their common faith,” and, in general, 3) by their use of human reason (filling in the picture by means of historical research) instead of plain Scripture texts from which alone the doctrine must be properly established.
30. Is it correct to refer to their doctrine on Church and Ministry as a “new” doctrine?
Answer: Yes, it is, because this doctrine had its beginning around the year 1903. It was set forth and defended by Wisconsin Synod seminary professors, John P. Koehler, August Pieper, and Johannes Schaller. Later, it was championed by still other professors, Lehninger, J. P. Meyer, Kowalke, and Lawrenz, to name a few, until the entire Wisconsin Synod was permeated with this “new” doctrine through their training of men for the ministry. Prior to 1903, the Wisconsin Synod taught exactly the same as the old Missouri Synod on the doctrine of the Church and its Ministry. This is evident from the writings of their prominent seminary president, Dr. Adolf Hoenecke (1835-1908), and of Dr. August Graebner who served as a Wisconsin Synod professor from 1875-1887.Top
31. How was this “new” doctrine dealt with by the Missouri Synod?
Answer: Dr. Pfotenhauer, president of the Missouri Synod from 1911 to 1935, dealt with those who held this “new” doctrine through a faculty committee from the St. Louis seminary. This led to the formulation and joint acceptance of the so-called “Wauwatosa Theses” of 1916, and later, the “Thiensville Theses” of 1932. It was thought that agreement had been reached several times only to find a later reoccurrence of the same “new” teaching in the Quartalschrift and other Wisconsin Synod periodicals and documents. Later, in 1948 and 1952, the matter was seemingly resolved in the Synodical Conference. There is, however, no evidence (in any of these joint efforts) of clear antithetical statements denouncing the “new” doctrine of the Wisconsin Synod as contrary to Scripture, or an ultimatum given to the Wisconsin Synod to retract its former public false doctrine. In later years, since the mid ’40s, the Missouri Synod followed the unScriptural practice of toleration of error, and the Wisconsin Synod’s “new” doctrine was passed off merely as “a difference in emphasis” or “a matter of perspective” on the doctrine of the Church and Ministry.
32. What is the incorrect method of Bible interpretation called by which the Wisconsin Synod develops its doctrine on Church and Ministry?
Answer: It is called the “historical-linguistic-exegetical method.”
Answer: It was introduced by Prof. John Philip Koehler, prominent Wisconsin Synod exegete (about 1908), who, by his method, overthrows the only correct and Scripturally sound principle of Bible interpretation. Koehler writes, in his History of the Wisconsin Synod, “The real issue was the definition of the term `institution’ as applied to the church and the office of the ministry in their concrete form. That afforded a striking illustration of the difference in the method of interpretation; on the one side, the linguistic-historical research to establish the meaning of the Scriptures and formulate that dogmatically; on the other side, the interpretation of the terms according to the preconceived dogmatic notionsthe same difference as before in connection with the `analogy of faith.'” In the Introduction to Koehler’s history, it is stated, “The very concept of Analogy of Faith appeared to Koehler as a construction of dogmatics. As such it confused and obscured rather than clarified the historical-exegetical task. His `Analogy of Faith’ article protested then a tradition which held exegesis captive to dogmatics. The Church and Ministry issue becomes an excellent example of the Wauwatosa’s historical-exegetical methodology in practice. It is worth noting that on this specific issue Koehler’s position was eventually adopted by the Wisconsin Synod.” (Quotations taken from Kinery’s The Doctrine Of The Church: An Analysis Of The Difference Between The Missouri And Wisconsin Synods, p. 182) In the Wisconsin Synod’s Lutheran Quarterly, July, 1963, p. 218, we read, “Gradually the position of the Seminary faculty was widely accepted and has now become the recognized doctrinal position of the Wisconsin Synod.”
34. What was the Wisconsin Synod’s method of Bible interpretation prior to 1908?
Answer: Dr. Adolf Hoenecke, the Wisconsin Synod’s leading theologian, professor, and president of their seminary from 1866 to 1908, states their old position nicely in the words, “Besides Scripture we do not need any helps or any helper, exegete, interpreter, as modern theology so frequently asserts.” (Dogmatik, I, p. 415 )
35. How did Luther and the early Lutheran theologians contend for “sound” Bible interpretation?
Answer: The clarity of Scripture, without interpretation, namely, the Analogy of Faith, the clear, pure Fountain of God’s Word, the bare Scriptures alone, is referred to by Dr. Martin Luther in these and similar words throughout his writings: “Be quite assured and do not doubt, there is nothing more luminous than the sun, that is to say, the Scriptures.” (St.L. V. 310)Top
Martin Luther ( 1483-1546 ) : “It is the characteristic of the entire Holy Bible that it interprets itself when everywhere we compare the passages and places, and that it will be understood through its rule of faith.” (St.L. III, 1386)
Martin Chemnitz ( 1522-1586 ): “In Romans 12:6, Paul correctly warns that every prophecy, that is, every doctrine and interpretation of Scripture in the church must be referred to and determined according to the analogy of faith. That is, every doctrine and every interpretation must be in agreement with the fundamentals and principles of the faith which have the express, clear, sure, and firm witness of Scripture.” (The Two Natures Of Christ , Preus’ translation , p . 267)
Johann Gerhard ( 1582-1637 ) : “From the perspicuous (clear) passages of Scripture, a rule of faith is deduced to which the exposition of the remainder must be conformed. And if we cannot ascertain the precisely literal sense of all passages, it is sufficient that in their interpretation we do not propose anything contrary to the analogy of faith.”
“Nothing is ever to be broached in the interpretation of Scripture that conflicts with this rule of faith; and hence, if we be not exactly able at times to ascertain the precise sense of any passage, as designed by the Holy Spirit, we should nevertheless beware of proposing anything that is contrary to the analogy of faith.”
“All interpretation of Scripture should be according to the analogy of faith,” (All three quotations from Heinrich Schmid’s Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelica l Lutheran Church, PP . 76-77)
Johann Quenstedt ( 1617-1685 ) : “From no other Source than the Holy Scriptures themselves can a certain and infallible interpretation of Scripture be drawn. The more obscure passages, which need explanation, can and should be explained by other passages that are more clear, and thus the Scripture itself furnishes an interpretation of the more obscure expressions when a comparison of these is made with those that are more clear; so that Scripture is explained by Scripture.” (Ibid. p. 76)
Johann Baier ( 1647-1695 ) : “Since in Scripture, given by God, there is obviously the highest and most exact harmony, it is evident that God has expressed the chief parts of faith and morals which we must know, in plain and clear words. Hence we must endeavor to scan the whole Bible and glean from it the sum of the heavenly doctrine. When we have studied these and all its several parts well, we must proceed in the interpretation of all other passages of Scripture in such a way that we do not charge any passage with a meaning which does not fully agree with the chief parts of Scripture and its whole summary.” ( Compend. THEOL. EXEG., p. 38 )
The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (A rt. 27) : “The intelligent and learned know well that all examples must be explained or established according to the rule, that is, according to the clear Scriptures, and not contrary to the rule of Scripture.” (Triglotta, 440:60 )
36. How did the Old Missouri Synod theologians contend for “sound” Bible interpretation?
C.F.W. Walther ( 1811-1887 ) : “The Evangelical Lutheran Church interprets the obscure passages in the light of the clear.” “The Evangelical Lutheran Church takes the articles of faith from those passages in which they are expressly taught and judges according to these all incidental expressions regarding them.” “The Evangelical Lutheran Church rejects from the very outset every interpretation which does not agree with the analogy of faith.” ( The True Visible Church , pp. 85,86,87 )
Ludwig Fuerbringer ( 1864-1947 ) : “Every doctrine of Holy Scripture is set forth at some place or other very clearly in proper terms, as the main theme of the discourse. All passages dealing with a certain doctrine are to be understood and expounded according to the sedes doctrinae.” (Theol. Hermeneutics , p. 16 )
Franz Pieper ( 1852-1931 ) : “Exegesis loses its theological character if the exegete does not adhere throughout to the `Scriptura Scripturam interpretatur‘ (Scripture is its own interpreter) and `Scriptura sua luce radiat‘ (the Scriptures are their own light). No extra-Biblical material, philological or historical, may determine the exegesis. That holds true particularly with regard to historical circumstances. Interpreting the words of Scripture according to a `historical background’ not furnished by Scripture itself but, wholly or in part, by contemporary secular writers, is false exegesis. All the historical background necessary for the correct understanding of Scripture is given by Scripture itself.” (Christian Dogmatics , I, p. 101 )
” All exegesis, whether it be in general the unfolding of the sense of Scripture or in particular the explanation of (or rather the attempt to explain) the more difficult passages of Scripture, is based on the fact that the entire Christian doctrine is revealed and set forth in Scripture passages so clear that the learned and unlearned alike can understand them; they do not stand in need of `exegesis’ for explanation. If Scripture did not have this quality, it would not be for all Christians `a Lamp unto their feet and a Light unto their path,’ nor would all Christians be able to establish the truth of their faith by Scripture and in the light of Scripture to mark and to avoid false teachers.” (Christian Dogmatics , I, p. 359 f )
” Luther and the old theologians, who with him took the right course, understand by analogy of faith the clear Scripture passages that require no interpretation, but are lucid in themselves. The sum of these passages constitutes the `analogy’ or the `rule of faith.'” ( Ch ristian Dogmatics , I, p. 361 )
” The Scriptures are the Word of God, and adding to them or subtracting from them is strictly forbidden to everyone (Deut. 4:2) . Whoever attempts to shed more light on dark passages of Scripture than Scripture itself offers in its clear passages is adding to God’s Word. And whoever obscures clear passages by bringing in obscure passages is taking away from God’s Word. (I Pet. 4:11) . What he cannot speak as God’s Word, he should leave unuttered.” (Christian Dogmatics, I, p. 364 f )
” This principle takes in both the linguistic usage and the historical circumstances of the text. We would be violating the fundamental tenet: Scripturam ex Scriptura explicandam esse (Scripture must be explained by Scriptures), and introducing an element of uncertainty into our understanding of Scripture if we invested a word or a phrase with a meaning which it does not bear in Scripture itself. The same applies to the historical statements and circumstances. All historical and chronological data which are needed to the end of time for the correct understanding of Scripture are furnished by Scripture itself. We go astray in our exegesis of Scripture as soon as we think that the historical background given in Scripture needs to be supplemented by material from secular history and permit this supplementation to have any decisive influence on our exegesis” ( Christian Dogmatics , I, pp. 365,366 ).
NOTE: It has always been correctly taught among us that everything the Lord God wants us to know for our Christian faith and life is set forth in crystal clear passages of Holy Writ which allow of NO interpretation. These passages are called the ” sedes doctrinae,” or the “seat” of the doctrine. The sum total of all such Scripture texts are known as “the analogy of faith.” Any exegesis, therefore, which conflicts with the analogy of faith must be judged erroneousbecause God Himself judges it thus! ( See: II Cor. 10:4-5 )
37. What, then, is the chief duty of an exegete?
Answer: The prime duty of a true exegete is to rivet our attention to the bare words of Scripture!
38. Did the Wisconsin Synod ever have a professor who called their attention to the nuda Scriptura especially also in the Doctrine of the Church and its Ministry?
Answer: Yes, Dr. Hoenecke did this in his life’s work, Dogmatik , which, after his death, was published in German in four volumes by his sons, Walter and Otto.
39. What ever happened to Dr. Hoenecke’s Dogmatik?
Answer: Dr. Hoenecke died on January 3rd, 1908. Since his death his Dogmatik has seldom, if ever, been used or quoted by any Wisconsin Synod theologian. (If this assertion is wrong, I stand to be corrected here!)
40. Why are so few references made to the teachings of this great spiritual leader of the Wisconsin Synod?
Answer: The Wisconsin Synod actually answers this question in its own Theological Quarterly (Vol. 60, No. 3, p. 210 f ) where we find these words: “Every theological faculty has its particular emphasis, depending on the times and conditions in the church. Under Hoenecke we had the formative years. The great need was to make ours a truly orthodox synod, to emphasize purity of doctrine and sound Lutheran practice. By the time of Hoenecke’s death, that had been accomplished. Now the faculty (Koehler, Pieper, Schaller See: Q uestion #33 above) saw the pendulum swinging in the other direction. They saw the danger of a dead orthodoxy in which all the right doctrines were upheld and defended against all comers but which threatened to degenerate into a mere formal profession with the living spirit departed. The dogmatical approach threatened to take over the religious thinking. to say the least, Dogmatics became largely an unpopular subject. Exegesis and Isagogics became the all-important subjects. Our faculty at that time stressed the historicalexegetical approach.”Top
Also in their centennial volume, Continuing in His Word, the Wisconsin Synod expresses the same attitude ( p. 146 f ) : “In the case of our Seminary Hoenecke supplied the clear and sound doctrinal position. His theology was preeminently Scriptural in its quality. The references to the works of earlier theologians were definitely of secondary importance. But his field was nevertheless that of systematic theology. And there the danger is always present of bowing to precedent, of emphasizing tradition, of stressing the systemif not in the work of a pioneer teacher, then in the attitude of his followers. Here the emphasis on a sound historical and grammatical interpretation of Scripture, on a thorough introduction of the student into the full and coherent content of Scripture, and on an unrelenting effort to determine what the words of Scripture mean to say, rather than what man would like to have them saythe things which were the distinctive contribution of Koehler and Pieperserved to create the pattern of a balanced theology which our seminary is trying to follow to this day.”
Yes, to this day in Wisconsin Synod theology, Dr. Adolf Hoenecke is avoided like the plague and their new ” historical-linguistic-exegetical method” of approach to Scripture, introduced by the Koehler, Pieper, Schaller faculty shortly after Hoenecke’s death, is practiced. ( See: Question #33 ) This method is the prime basis for their “new” doctrine on Church and Ministry, and it can easily infect other clear teachings of Scripture as well, for example, it could lead to a rejection of the home and family unit as the only divinely instituted form of social environment for children and adults and stress the need for the “village,” the day care center, etc.
41. Is it correct to refer to the “new” Wisconsin Synod’s teaching on Church and Ministry as a “development” of doctrine?
Answer: Yes, because their doctrine is developed from sources outside of Scripture.
42. Why is it important to have these things in mind as we approach a discussion of the False Doctrine on Church and Ministry as it is set forth, defended, and upheld by the WELS, CoLC, ELS, and their followers?
Answer: It is vitally important because this gives us a clear understanding of the type of soil from which their false teaching springs.
43. How is the word ekklesia ( church) used, not according to its etymology, which is of man, but according to its “ usus loquendi,” namely, its actual use in the Bible, which is simply permitting the Bible to interpret itself?
Answer: The word ekklesia (ek-klay-see-a) is used in Scripture with reference to 1) the Una Sancta or the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, and to 2) the Local Congregation a) as God sees it and b) as it is visible to men.
44. What is the Una Sancta or the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints?
Answer: The whole number of all true believers in Christ , the elect Children of God on earth and in heaven. (There is NO CONTROVERSY on this point.)
Answer: The Local Congregation, as God sees it, are the TRUE BELIEVERS in any locality who, in accordance with God’s command, assemble themselves together regularly for public worship (Heb. 10:25; Col 3:16; Eph. 5:19) ; celebrate the Lord’s Supper often in their assemblies (I Cor. 11:26) ; establish the Office of the Ministry (pastoral office) in their midst for the regular hearing and learning of God’s Word (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23) ; maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3; I Thess. 4:9-10; I Cor. 1:10) ; perform works of Christian charity ( I Cor. 16:3 ; etc. ) ; and exercise church discipline (Matt. 18:17; I Cor. 5:1-13; 6:1-8; II Cor. 2:6-11; Gal. 6:1; I Thess. 5:14; II Thess. 3:6,14,15; II John 10-11).Top
46. How is it possible for the true believers (who are visible to God only) to gather themselves together to perform their God-given functions and responsibilities?
Answer: They can do this ONLY AS A VISIBLE COMMUNION of professing Christians.
47. By what term is this visible assembly also referred to in Scripture through which the true believers (who are known to God alone) can with one another carry out their God-given duties and responsibilities?
Answer: Together with the Local Congregation, as God sees it, this visible assembly is also called ekklesia (ek-klay-see-a) in the Bible. It is the Local Church or Congregation as men see it !
48. Approximately how many times is the word ekklesia (church) used in the Bible to designate a Local Congregation both in the broad sense (as men see it), which may include hypocrites, and in the narrow sense (as it is visible to God only), which is a part of the Una Sancta?
Answer: The word ekklesia (church) is used in Scripture with reference to the Local Congregation both in the broad and narrow sense approximately 97 times. The context may easily determine the sense to which the word ekklesia is made to refer by the Holy Ghost Himself. At times, for example, the Holy Ghost may use ekklesia in an Apostolic greeting to refer only to the believers in a certain locality, and later on in the same epistle He may speak to and of the visible assembly of professing Christians and bring them also under the word ekklesia which He used in His greeting. Thus the same word may be used in a Bible passage to refer to the Local Congregation in both senses. In this way the Holy Ghost plainly shows us how the “church of God” and “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ” are to function visibly before the eyes of menso that all of the admonitions and exhortations which Christ gives to His Church in Scripture may be carried out in a practical way.
49. Are there any passages in Scripture in which the word ekklesia (church) can refer to nothing else but the visible Local Congregation?
Answer: Yes, indeed. For example: III John 9-10 and Acts 20:17,29-30.
50. Since God has 1) commanded certain functions to be carried out by true believers in any given locality ( See: Question #45 ) , and since 2 ) these functions can be carried out only through a visible assembly of professing Christians ( See: Question 46 ) , and since 3) such a visible assembly is called ekklesia (church) in the Bible ( See: Questions #47-49 ) , as what must such a visible communion be regarded?Top
Answer: It must be regarded as a divine institution . ( See: Question #13 )
51. Why must the local visible congregation be regarded as a divine institution?
Answer: Because God calls it a church and gives it certain functions and responsibilitieseven as the Home and Family Unit (referred to in Question 20) must be regarded as a divine institution. Whatever God commands to function, does He not also command it to exist in order that it might function? Do not the functions, obligations, and responsibilities