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Messages - Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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1
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 23, 2022, 08:02:24 PM »
This thread seems permanently off topic. I wonder whether one of the more recent topics might be turned into its own thread.

2
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 23, 2022, 12:03:22 PM »
If one were to describe the Christian faith with ONLY the words of the Quicunque ending and nothing more we would consider her an outright Pelagian.

That is not the case for us. We have numerous statements of our beliefs that temper those words which are semi-Pelagian.

We need not search for heresy in Matt Becker.

Peace, JOHN

To reiterate from above, there is nothing Pelagian about the ending of the creed. The same teaching occurs in Romans 2. The key, as always, is reading the passages in the context, which is all about grace and faith.

John, I don't sense that anyone is accusing Matt of heresy or trying to find heresy in him. He offered a topic, others critiqued, and there was a reasonable dialogue.

3
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 23, 2022, 08:27:04 AM »
Kelly's argument is pure speculation and weak speculation at that.

I find Kelly's analysis careful, judicious, nuanced, and persuasive. If you haven't read his little book, I highly encourage you to do so. Pelikan found his conclusions persuasive. That's a pretty significant endorsement, if you ask me.

M. Becker

Tom, thanks for patiently engaging on this topic. Kelly's right to describe the Creed as Augustinian and possibly produced in a semi-Pelagian environment. But you are right that the Creed is not semi-Pelagian.

I think Matt is uncomfortable with the strong wording in the Creed, which is there as a test of orthodoxy. The western Christians are trying to drive a clear wedge between trinitarian and non-trinitarian belief. It's an effective teaching tool with very practical application.

The Lutheran Cyclopedia 1975 states, "Luther regarded it as possibly the grandest production of the church since the time of the apostles" (p. 256). The article does not include a source. Someone with a digital copy of Luther's Works might ferret it out.

P.s. Found a blogger referencing LW 34. One might check there.

4
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 23, 2022, 08:16:19 AM »

Maybe we are, after all, Semi-Pelagians.... (Paul's teaching about predestination complicates matters, but I will leave that issue for another day.)

M. Becker

No.

5
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 22, 2022, 12:20:53 PM »
Matt, I like this point you cite from Kelly: "The markedly Augustinian tone of [the creed's] theology generally is no obstacle to its having been composed in a Semi-Pelagian environment." I agree with this. Maybe Vincent wrote it or contributed to it. Maybe a thorough going Augustinian did. But that is speculation. What is clear is that Augustinians embraced and understood it as compatible with the canon of Scripture.

6
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 22, 2022, 09:12:26 AM »
On use of sentio, consider the following:

(Romani 8:5) qui enim secundum carnem sunt quae carnis sunt sapiunt qui vero secundum Spiritum quae sunt Spiritus sentiunt For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

(Philippenses 2:5) hoc enim sentite in vobis quod et in Christo Iesu Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Sentio is related to English "sense" and may describe physical senses but when used of the mind references understanding, even consent (note the root).

The Philippines passage above has a creedal character and early Christians were happy to use sentite for both Christ and His followers. To make the word bare intellectualism is an odd reaction, I think.

I used to see this sort of thing in doctrinal reviews at times. Reviewers would overreact to a particular word. I would pull examples of its use from Scripture and the Confessions to illustrate its use then ask, "May we retain the author's wording?"

I would ask the same of Matt. Have you searched the use of the terms and phrases that bother you such as sentio and vult in Augustine and late ancient Christian literature? Are you reading into these words and overreacting? Have you done the difficult research or are you  shooting from the hip? For example, I read your comments and thought, "Augustine never annihilates the will or the mind from discussion of salvation. Why is Matt suggesting that reference to them is somehow semi-Pelagian?"

7
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 22, 2022, 07:19:40 AM »
The semi-Pelagian argument is weak and based fully on speculation. There is no evidence for it.

To make this statement is to ignore Kelly's scholarship as well as that of the others I mentioned. You asked for semipelagian evidence, and it was provided. Kelly's classic work points to fifth-c. s. Gaul, a hotbed of semipelagianism, as the setting for the origin of this Western creed. The language that one finds in vv. 1 and 26 also fits with an anti-Augustinian, semipelagian view. It is difficult to imagine Augustine agreeing with the phrases, "Quicunque vult salvus esse" or "Qui vult ergo salvus esse". According to Augustine, no inheritor of Adam's sin has a will that can "wish" or "want" "to be saved." Moreover, Augustine's mature teaching about predestination rejects the notion that our will plays any role in our salvation.

"Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de trinitate sentiat" (v. 26) = "who then wants to be saved must think this way about the Trinity." "Sentiat" certainly conveys an intellectualistic view of faith, while "compellimur" (v. 19) and "necessarium est... fideliter credat" (v. 27; cf. v. 40) convey a coercive view of faith. The Lutheran confessional emphasis is on fiducia, not sentio.

I'm not the first student of the Lutheran Confessions to raise critical questions about some of the statements in the Quicunque.

M. Becker

Hotbed of semi-Pelagianism? Then how does one explain St. Caesarius studying in Lerins, rising to leadership in Arles, and supporting the condemnation of semi-Pelagianism at Orange II, all in southern Gaul? Sure there are semi-Pelagians present but that doesn't make them dominant in the area or writers of the creed championed by Augustinians. Speculation is not evidence no matter who presents it.

The first to cite the Athanasian Creed is St. Caesarius, an Augustinian. Those who adopt and use the Creed---including Martin Luther---are Augustinians. To my eye the semi-Pelagian argument is manufactured to undermine a Creed that some find uncomfortable but that Christians have used perpetually in the west.

Luther references the Athanasian Creed in the Smalcald Articles, which Lutherans received in the Confessions. It is bedrock Lutheran doctrine. That's what the evidence shows.

What you might argue, Matt, is that you are uncomfortable with the creed's wording. But there's no demonstration that the Creed is semi-Pelagian or un-Lutheran.

8
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 21, 2022, 09:58:45 PM »
The weight of the creed is focused on Trinitarian doctrine (Augustinian in character), which it also relates to the doctrine of salvation first by describing faith throughout then by mentioning works at the tail of the statement.

The first writer to cite the creed---its first documented occurrence---comes from St. Caesarius (d. 542) Archbishop of Arles, who references it in a sermon. St. Caesarius started as a monk at Lerins but became an archbishop known for his work with rulers. He was not a cloistered monk but active with the broader church. St. Caesarius is known for this important theological contribution: "He was largely instrumental in securing the condemnation of Semi-Pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529" (ODCC, 2nd ed., p 218).

You are suggesting that a strident Augustinian adopted and promoted a Semi-Pelagian creed. In contrast, St. Caesarius and his circle perpetuated and broadened use of the creed and understood it with Augustinian eyes.

Are there any Semi-Pelagians who cite and promote the creed? If so they were on the heels of the Augustinians. Did Luther ever reject the Athanasian Creed? I've seen no evidence of that. The early Lutherans championed it. I think what I'm presenting walks hand in hand with the Augustinians and Luther.

Ed,
I agree with your first sentence. As I have repeatedly stated, whenever I have commented on the Quicunque, I agree with its teaching regarding classic Western trinitarian and christological dogma, including the important statement, "Qui passs est pro salute nostra."

I was alluding to Caesarius earlier when I referred to the Zwiefalten document (a collection of Caesarius' sermons) from the 12th c. that was discovered in Stuttgart. Its version of the preface of the Quicunque is different from the one contained in Denzinger (75) and the 2014 ed. of BSELK (57): "And because it is necessary, and incumbent on them, that all clergy, and laity too, should be familiar with the Catholic faith, we have first written out in this collection the Catholic faith itself as the holy fathers defined it, for we ought both ourselves frequently to read it and to instruct others in it." The scribes of Caesarius freely made editorial changes to the Quicunque, to make it more sermonic. It is worth noting too that Caesarius did not view the Quicunque as a liturgical text, but rather as a text for use in instructing the orthodox trinitarian and christological faith to clergy and laity.

Kelly's work demonstrates the deep connection between earlier Semi-Pelagians in Gaul and the origin of the Quicunque. Vincent of Lerins (d. before 450) was one such Semi-Pelagian. Kelly identifies at least 18 lengthy parallels (near direct quotations) between writings from Vincent and statements in the Quicunque. It is generally held that Vincent, "as a semipelagian, opposed the teaching of Augustine on predestination" (ODCC, 4th ed., 2.2036). Faustus of Riez (d. 490), also was a monastic teacher at Lerins, where in 433 he succeeded Maximus as abbot. His treatise "De Gratia" was written in ca. 472 "to refute the predestinarian doctrines condemned by recent councils of Arles and Lyon.... In this work he adopted a semipelagian position, insisting even more strongly than Cassian on the necessity of human cooperation with divine grace, and on the initial free will of men, even when in sin, for the acceptance of that grace" (ODCC, 4th ed., 1.693). Kelly identifies multiple parallels between the Quicunque and statements from sermons by Faustus. Cassian was another semipelagian whose writings parallel the teaching of the Quicunque, especially its final statements about the eschatological judgment according to human works (see ODCC, 4th ed., 1.345-346).

Caesarius, who came later than these semipelagian monks, worked tirelessly to condemn their anti-Augustinian views on predestination, the slavery of the will, and other aspects of Augustinian anthropology.

Again, your argument is with Kelly, Harnack, Tixerone, and Pelikan: "A. Harnack once queried whether their [i.e., the damnatory clauses in the Athanasian Creed, vv. 1-2, 38-40] strong emphasis on man's free-will and responsibility for his acts (cf. vult salvus esse in vv. 1 and 28) might not be indicative of a Semi-Pelagian way of thinking, 'a discreet protest,' as J. Tixerone expressed it, 'against the extremist doctrines of Augustinianism.' This is an attractive suggestion, and becomes all the more so when we set v. 40 (... et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem) beside them. There is, of course, nothing compelling about it; in itself the stress on human volition and responsibility calls for no recondite explanation. On the other hand, it might acquire enhanced significance if, as the argument unfolds [as it does in the remainder of Kelly's study], we discover positive grounds for connecting the Quicunque with the region of Gaul which was the cradle of Semi-Pelagianism in the second quarter of the 5th century" (Kelly, The Athanasian Creed, 73).

I find few references to the Quicunque in Luther's writings, fewer still among the older dogmaticians. If they do refer to this creed, it is to the trinitarian and christological dogmas (cf. SA I.1-4; FC SD, preface, 4; FC SD, XII.37), not to its closing statement about the eschatological judgment according to works (cf. AC XXVI.4).

Kelly and the others I mentioned have concluded that a Semi-Pelagian could have composed the Quicunque, that its trinitarian and christological dogma is orthodox Western teaching, and that its conclusion reflects a semipelagian theological anthropology.

Let us stick to the dogmatic heart and substance of this creed, not to its problematic opening and closing sentences.

Matt Becker

Theologians of Lerins make statements similar to the Creed but to what end? To support semi-Pelagian views or to teach its Augustinian doctrine of the Trinity? If it is the former, one might assert the Creed is semi-Pelagian. But I've seen no one saying that. The common ground would otherwise be for the doctrine of the Trinity.

Does Luther ever denounce the Athanasian Creed or its conclusion? On the contrary, see Smalcald Articles, part I, point 4. It's Lutheran doctrine.

The creeds closing statement about the judgement could be made by Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Augustine, and even Luther. How can one then say it is semi-Pelagian? The semi-Pelagian argument is weak and based fully on speculation. There is no evidence for it.

9
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 21, 2022, 05:11:36 PM »
I don't think Quicunque Vult is semi-Pelagian. Its closing statement is clearly canonical. Here are two examples. Many others might be cited.

Romans 2:6--8 (Apostle Paul)
He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Matthew 16:27 (Jesus)
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

The statements are biblical, not Pelagian at all. On the contrary, the Creed repeatedly emphasizes the Faith (fides quae; 5 times) and faith (fides qua; 4 times) before it ever mentions deeds. To read it faithfully, one should observe this context and order of presentation. At Emmanuel, we read or chant the Athanasian Creed each Trinity Sunday. Some years I have preached on the biblical basis that informs the Creed.

Ed,
What makes Pelagianism such a challenge for those who seek to teach and preach the gospel (sola gratia; sola fide; solus Christus) is that Pelagians of one stripe or another can appeal to passages such as those quoted above to strengthen their position about human freedom, divine law, divine judgment according to works, the necessity of good works in order to escape God's eschatological wrath and to enter into eternal life. Simply quoting biblical passages does not an evangelical-orthodox theological argument make.  Look at how many biblical passages Erasmus leveled against Luther's teaching. Prior to Luther's evangelical discovery, passages such as those quoted above (in isolation from the gospel promise of sola fide), sent him into hell, where he experienced the worst of Anfechtungen.

The OT and NT contain passages (such as those quoted above) that teach an eschatological judgment according to works. The NT also teaches an eschatological judgment of acquittal according to divine grace and sola fide on account of Christ alone. These two divine judgments create an irreconcilable contradiction/paradox. The way that evangelicals attempt to resolve the paradox is to argue (in one way or another) that the eschatological judgment of acquittal "out judges" the eschatological judgment according to works. The latter is trumped by the former. In that way, the promise for faith brings consolation to Christians who are troubled by the innumerable bad works they do every day, and it frees such individuals to do good works on a different basis from the one that teaches "do good works in order to enter into eternal life," "do good works in order to escape a negative outcome in the eschatological judgment according to works." This paradox is further complicated by the contradiction between biblical teaching about election/predestination (not to mention "divine necessity") and biblical teaching about the eschatological judgment according to works (not to mention "human freedom," human responsibility).

It seems to me that the ending of the Quicunque lands squarely on a Pelagian understanding of the eschatological judgment according to works, and thus it undermines the ultimate victory of the promise of sola fide over God's eschatological judgment according to works.

Historical research on the origin of this creed makes clear that it likely originated in monastic circles in fifth-century southern Gaul (probably in the vicinity of Lerins), which were heavily supportive of and shaped by what later scholars have called "Semi-Pelagianism." Your argument is partly with those scholars of the Quicunque who locate its origin in those circles, but it is also partly with Luther and his theological critique of late-Medieval theories of justification, such as the kind exemplified by Erasmus.

Matt Becker

Matt, I'm bolding a few of your terms above, which show your statement is murky at best.

The weight of the creed is focused on Trinitarian doctrine (Augustinian in character), which it also relates to the doctrine of salvation first by describing faith throughout then by mentioning works at the tail of the statement.

The first writer to cite the creed---its first documented occurrence---comes from St. Caesarius (d. 542) Archbishop of Arles, who references it in a sermon. St. Caesarius started as a monk at Lerins but became an archbishop known for his work with rulers. He was not a cloistered monk but active with the broader church. St. Caesarius is known for this important theological contribution: "He was largely instrumental in securing the condemnation of Semi-Pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529" (ODCC, 2nd ed., p 218).

You are suggesting that a strident Augustinian adopted and promoted a Semi-Pelagian creed. In contrast, St. Caesarius and his circle perpetuated and broadened use of the creed and understood it with Augustinian eyes.

Are there any Semi-Pelagians who cite and promote the creed? If so they were on the heels of the Augustinians. Did Luther ever reject the Athanasian Creed? I've seen no evidence of that. The early Lutherans championed it. I think what I'm presenting walks hand in hand with the Augustinians and Luther.

10
Your Turn / Re: Women theological authors
« on: November 21, 2022, 10:45:36 AM »
I don't think Quicunque Vult is semi-Pelagian. Its closing statement is clearly canonical. Here are two examples. Many others might be cited.

Romans 2:6--8 (Apostle Paul)
He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Matthew 16:27 (Jesus)
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

The statements are biblical, not Pelagian at all. On the contrary, the Creed repeatedly emphasizes the Faith (fides quae; 5 times) and faith (fides qua; 4 times) before it ever mentions deeds. To read it faithfully, one should observe this context and order of presentation. At Emmanuel, we read or chant the Athanasian Creed each Trinity Sunday. Some years I have preached on the biblical basis that informs the Creed.
 

11
Your Turn / Re: Youth Catechesis Question
« on: November 19, 2022, 01:14:46 PM »
Resting from our latest youth overnight. 35% of those who attended were visitors. Focused on the Lord's Prayer, hunger, and offering thanks to the Lord for His providence and for answered prayer. So wonderful to have these events again since Covid. Looking forward to processing with some of the Catechism students for Christ the King in the morning.

12
Your Turn / Re: Interesting Letter from Eric Metaxas
« on: November 17, 2022, 07:01:38 PM »
Have a look at what Germans themselves say:

https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unierte_Kirchen_(evangelisch)

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Your Turn / Re: Interesting Letter from Eric Metaxas
« on: November 17, 2022, 12:35:40 PM »
Evangelisch translated as Protestant, not Lutheran.

14
Your Turn / Re: Interesting Letter from Eric Metaxas
« on: November 17, 2022, 06:45:57 AM »
Chapter 6
THE SPIRAL OF SILENCE

This short chapter opens with political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann's analysis of fear, which prevents people from speaking in intimidating situations such as pre-war Germany. Metaxas applies the idea to pastors afraid to speak up when opposed by parishioners.

Next, he introduces four errors that he will explain in coming chapters: (1) Misunderstanding of faith, (2) The idol of evangelism, (3) Be Not Political, and (4) The Christian life is lived principally to avoid sin. He sees these errors as paralyzing the churches.

THOUGHTS

I had understood the observation about silence as coming historically from Martin Niemöller and his poem, "First they came . . ." rather than from a political scientist.

15
Your Turn / Re: Where the Crawdads Sing
« on: November 16, 2022, 07:51:35 PM »
I enjoyed the movie.  I'll grant, I don't generally look to the culture to define morality, so my main thought on the ending (which I'll decline to spoil) was along the lines of "wow, they did a good job setting that up -- I thought it was going the other way."

I'll also say this, as someone who knows people who have been raped and subjected to domestic abuse -- I'm sort of with Chris Rock on this.  I'm not saying murder was the answer, but I understand.  Because part of the plot line, you all will recall, is the authorities were unlikely to do anything about the abuser.  That doesn't justify murder, but when the earthly authorities abandon their responsibility, it tempts vigilantism.  We ought avoid the temptation, but we ought also focus attention on the institutional failure.  Whatever one's take on the ending, I'd hope we can all agree that's an important message.

If I had to critique the movie, it wouldn't be along moral lines.  It would be more that it's a bit of a trope.

"There is no morality in nature." That's the draw pin in the story. Before that point, you're on the wagon, along for the ride. You think you know where the story is going. But at that point you learn that the engine that's drawing the whole thing comes beyond and is not what you thought. The author is driving the other way.

Writing this way, the author makes the story explicitly about morality or, more properly, amorality. "There is no morality in nature."  The author's natural illustration is the female praying mantis that allows the male to seduce her and then eats him. By analogy, that is what the main character is doing. She seems powerless but she's actually a man eater. The author wants to present a more powerful, triumphant female character who does not need the men who would hurt her (her father, boyfriends, even the lawyer she deceives) but uses them instead.

It is very clever writing but it's definitely a statement about morality, namely, that there isn't any. Survival of the fittest; kill or be killed.

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