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Messages - Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

#1
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
Today at 03:44:56 PM
An odd consistency I'm seeing in some of the arguments here is: If something can't be 100%, then anything might follow.

If marriage can't be 100% as God originally ordained it, then marriage is more or less lost.

If our Bibles are not 100% as God first gave them, then we have no surity of His message.

If the Law cannot be kept fully, then it doesn't matter whether someone keeps the Law.

Unless ecumenism brings us all together, we are hopelessly divided.

These are all-or-nothing arguments designed to deconstruct any semblance of existing order or normalcy. There is an odd perfectionism. The arguments are full of disquiet and angst. Is this Nietzsche in liberal Christian garb?
#2
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
Yesterday at 05:26:33 PM
Another fascinating discovery are the homo naledi fossils found in a South African cave. These small-brained hominids are breaking many of the rules about human evolution. They don't fit into the ordinary schemes. They buried their dead, used fire, and created art, although study of their skeletal remains suggested they were too primitive to do such things. You start wondering, for example, was homo erectus really so different from modern humans?

Scientists once regarded Neanderthals as more primitive. Now geneticists tell use that they interbred with us and we carry their DNA. Really remarkable stuff.
#3
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
Yesterday at 04:08:07 PM
I recently watched, "When Whales Could Walk," a NOVA science documentary about whale evolution. They were looking at fossils in the Sahara and trying to figure out an evolutionary process from land mammals to aquatic mammals. As they discussed proposed intermediary forms, I turned to my wife and said, "That sounds more like a hippo than a whale." Some minutes later, the narrator acknowledged that hippos had the various features of the proposed intermediary. So was this fossil form a distinct evolutionary species on the way to being a whale or was it a variation on a hippo? An evolutionist might draw one conclusion, a creationist another. Both are viewing the matters scientifically. There are legitimately different ways of seeing things, depending on vantage point.

One things is certain, the certainty of the science will change. In fact, the thought model is designed to keep changing. The wonderful thing about biblical creation is the consistency it provides. I'm fascinated by science and read/view it, but I preach and teach by The Book.
#4
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 24, 2024, 04:16:35 PM
A divide I see in discussions of the Walkout is perhaps illustrated by some classical examples. The conservatives write about undoing the SOPHISTS who had ill motives for their actions. The liberals/moderates write about the DEATH OF SOCRATES, as though synod leadership was foolishly reactive (or, duped by outside influences). It's that kind of mistrust and perhaps misunderstanding of what really happened.

It looks to me like a struggle over who would decide the synod's doctrine and thereby its future. Left to the faculty, the Synod definitely would have changed over time. (I'm not saying anyone was proven a false teacher at the time---a sore point---but that there was definitely a change in direction in the teaching---a new trajectory.) Left to the administration, the Synod would return to earlier standards, which it ultimately did. The Age of Lutheran Orthodoxy became a renewed touchstone,
which it still is today. The Synod as an institution was effective at protecting itself. It has been less effective at healing itself, which is why debate continues.
#5
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 24, 2024, 11:29:42 AM
There was an agreed upon step into the historical-critical method, led by a Scharlemann publication as I recall. But what sparked the Walkout more specifically, I think, was that the faculty majority wanted academic freedom. They wanted the right to teach about these matters and methods as they believed the evidence was leading them. Did the synod ever commit to academic freedom? I don't think it did. And that seems to be the real dividing point.
#6
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 24, 2024, 12:06:52 AM
Quote from: Mbecker on February 23, 2024, 05:16:00 PM
Quote from: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on February 22, 2024, 10:03:52 AMBut you do agree, Matt, that they were teaching the historical critical method?

If by "they" you mean bibical scholars and other professors of theology at LCMS colleges and seminaries after the mid-1940s, you are correct. As I mentioned, when the synod celebrated its centennial, the convention that year voted to spend a large sum of money to support the publication of a major historical-critical resource, BAG (later abbreviated BDAG). From the 1940s onward (perhaps even earlier), seminary students, LCMS pastors, and LCMS professors of theology learned historical-critical methods in LCMS institutions, and those individuals benefited from historical-critical resources. I learned about such resources myself when I was a student at 801 ('84-'88), and made use of them then as well as subsequently. Hoerber made use of those resources in NT studies, just as Hummel did in his OT courses. (Hummel helped to introduced these modern methods to Concordia students in the early '50s.)

Were there matters of disagreement? Absolutely. The Scharlemann affair is a good example. Hummel left Concordia for LSTC, where he could work a little more freely in his area. Habel's work on the genres of the Genesis stories in Gen 1-3 is another example.

By the early 1960s it was clear that the Synod would need to address the limited usefulness of "the historical-critical method," given that those tools could be used destructively (e.g., as they have been, imo, within the ideology of historicism). Thus, the Synod went on record in 1967 and 1969 supporting the use of historical-critical tools of biblical scholarship within certain prescribed limits. The presuppositions and aims that one brings to the exegetical/hermeneutical task are crucial, e.g., using those historical-critical tools in service to the gospel and not in rigid obedience to Troeltsch's three principles.

Matt Becker

Thank you, Matt. I think that was precisely the bone of contention, whether or how to use the historical critical method. Users can reach widely different conclusions. A more conservative user like Danker would raise fewer eyebrows. But as users began to reach more surprising conclusions, that sparked concern and mistrust.

As I've read the literature, the number one accusation from both sides was dishonesty. Both felt it and both feared it, which led to further and further confrontation.

I've been with youth all night talking about the two natures in Christ. Time to turn in.
#7
Your Turn / Re: Concordia - Ann Arbor and Wisconsin
February 22, 2024, 04:36:41 PM
In my experience, things are going well or just fine at an institution until suddenly they are not.

The school appears to have growth, from current reporting. My prayer is that they do the math about how long and how much growth is needed to get balanced out. A no-nonsense proposal like that might bring forth sufficient funds to resolve the problem.

But I tend to be optimistic.
#8
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 22, 2024, 04:31:00 PM
I believe the ELCA contains Lutherans the way a cradle or blanket contains an infant.
#9
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 22, 2024, 10:55:04 AM
Topic changers, I'm trying to foster a conversation with Matt. He is knowledgeable about the history. I've read about it over the years. I'd like learn more about his perspective. Thanks for understanding.
#10
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 22, 2024, 10:03:52 AM
Quote from: Mbecker on February 21, 2024, 06:37:35 PMI was eleven and living more than 2,000 miles away when the moratorium and exile took place at Concordia Sem. My parish pastor at the time, L. Dean Hempelmann, generally supported those who were pushed away, as did my Uncle Bob (who was a classmate of John T's and others among the faculty majority). Uncle Bob helped with ELIM in the Southern District. At least two of our vicars were Seminex students. In the mid-70s my home congregation in Salem, Ore., called one of them to be its associate pastor. Another pastor was Fred Niedner Sr., who had been the Neb DP, and was among those few DPs who were willing to place Seminex grads in their districts. After the Anaheim convention, he left Neb for the greener pastures of Ore.

While I almost went to Christ Sem, the pull of friends to 801 was stronger. By the time I matriculated there, Dean H. was on the faculty. His shepherding helped me through that rather perplexing and often boring period. (The sem library was a great refuge.) N. Nagel and John J. were also quite helpful.

One of the "new faculty," Robert Hoerber, who was my academic adviser, freely and publicly acknowledged that "errors" are in the Scriptures. Herman O. once published a letter from Hoerber that defended that same thesis. Hoerber also rightly noted that all modern interpreters of the Scriptures use "the historical-critical method," under one set of presuppositions or another, to the extent that such interpreters recognize the historical and cultural distance between our world(s) and the world(s) of the biblical texts (hence "historical"), use their brains to interpret the texts (hence "critical"), and are methodical in their exegesis of the texts (hence "method"). Only later did I learn that the LCMS in convention, in 1967, officially approved the use of the historical-critical method (see 1967 Res. 2-02; see also 1969 Res. 2-04). If the tools for biblical study that are generally housed under the embrella term "historical-critical method" are so bad and inherently prone to lead into false doctrine, then why did the Synod commend that method and those tools in 1967 and 1969? Why were those tools regularly taught at both seminaries after the 1940s? Why are they still taught at 801 today?

By the mid-1960s, the LCMS was schizoid, operating with a divided mind. But the schizophrenia had been developing for several decades prior to that turbulent period. In a Lutheran Quarterly essay I have traced the origin of the dis-ease at least back to the mid-1920s, right around the time my grandfather (who studied under Pieper) graduated from Concordia.

When rather large numbers of sem graduates started to engage modern thought, as they began to do after the 1920s in non-LCMS graduate schools and professional settings (as did my grandfather when he studied modern psychiatry alongside theology, when he served at the Oregon State Hospital), it was only a matter of time before the Synod's schools would be populated with profs and teachers who had learned modern scholarly methods of research and were teaching them to their students. Horace Hummel was also my teacher at 801. He, along with Scharlemann, had introduced modern historical-critical methods of biblical study to sem students in the early 1950s. He was still using those same methods when I was his student in the mid-80s.

I'm grateful that I was able to study under Bob Bertram, when I lived in LSTC housing as a grad student at the U. of Chicago Div. School in the late 80s. At that time, I also had some contact with a few other Seminex faculty, mainly through "Crossings," where "Seminex theology," if there really is such a thing, continues to have an influence today. (When I was going through my own synodical "troubles," John Tietjen reached out to me, and we had a few very helpful telephone conversations.) Most of Bertram's library books--the ones without his handwritten marginalia--are now in my own library, as are a great many books from Ed Schroeder's library (including his tattered, marked-up Concordia [Tappert version]). Although I never attended Seminex, I do consider myself one of its living letters.

Here's the point I want to make: No false doctrine was ever demonstrated to have been taught at Concordia Seminary. In January 1973 the seminary's Board of Control (!) voted to commend every member of the seminary faculty, to correct no one. Please re-read that sentence.

George Loose, who had served as chairman of that BOC, made it clear to me, when I spoke with him face-to-face in the late 1990s, that he was convinced no one on the sem faculty was ever guilty of advocating false doctrine. That was also Ralph Bohlmann's position, at least when I spoke with him about these matters at length one evening in the early 2000s. More importantly, that was the majority view on the BOC in 1973. No individual was ever linked by name to any false doctrine in any convention resolution that condemned the seminary faculty. Please re-read that sentence.

I've never been able to find any false doctrine in the published writings of Piepkorn, Bertram, Caemmerer, F. Danker, B. Danker, Kalin, Klein, Krentz (whose book on the historical-critical method was my introduction to modern tools of biblical study, alongside the first ed. of Danker's book Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study), Volz, Weyermann, et al.

In 1947, when the LCMS celebrated its centennial, part of the thank offering gathered that year was set aside as a fund for historical-critical biblical research. With Scharlemann as president of the Lutheran Academy of Scholarship, and with the approval of President Behnken, the LCMS administered that fund to publish an English edition of a principal resource used in historical-critical scholarship, Bauer's Woerterbuch, now in its third English edn., edited by F. Danker.

In the second edition of my book on fundamental theology (published last week), in the chapters on theological hermeneutics, I try to show why historicism is a position that ought to be rejected in biblical study. Such historicism results when one uses Troeltsch's three principles of historical criticism ideologically and rigidly rather than heuristically. Such historicism conflicts with the gospel that bears witness to God's mighty actions in history. But the use of historical-critical tools for biblical research is unavoidable. Where the rubber meets the road is all about one's ideological presuppositions and theological convictions.

I do think that some who reject "Seminex" and its "theology," whatever that is, don't really know what they're rejecting. It may be the case that their rejection is more a matter of "pro-jection," of foisting onto that faculty majority a boogeyman of their own making. I think if more of my fellow 801 students could have sat through even one seminar of Bertram's (e.g., his grad seminar on Luther's De servo arbitrio), and spent time talking with him one-on-one (as I did for countless hours over several years), I think they might have come away with a different perspective about what transpired in 1974. I will leave it to others to judge the theologies and personalities, the mindsets and demeanors, of those who opposed "the faculty majority." (I did spend some time around at least three of those detractors, having once been their student, and a fourth I got to know much later over the course of three separate synodical conventions when I was the sec. of the NW Dist. Talk about "night and day." I'll just leave it at that.)

What happened in 1973-1975 in the LCMS was a tragedy. It didn't have to happen the way that it did. What did happen was as much the result of personality clashes as it was about fears and anxieties and the cultural Zeitgeist (think Nixon on the one side and Vietnam War protesters on the other). From what I can tell, theological differences (i.e., matters of theological emphasis but not really of doctrinal error) played only a minor role in the whole thing.

Matt Becker

But you do agree, Matt, that they were teaching the historical critical method?
#11
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 21, 2024, 12:25:12 PM
Quote from: RDPreus on February 21, 2024, 10:13:16 AMThe autographs may not exist, but we do have in our possession today the original words of the inerrant Bible.  Textual variants do require us to exercise good judgment in choosing the best manuscript evidence, and this is why seminarians are taught the rudiments of textual criticism.  On that topic there are differences of opinion.  Some of us believe that the Textus Receptus is superior to the contrived text of Nestle Aland.  We are a growing minority in the LCMS.  We can argue about the best Greek texts, but as we do, we can all agree that the variants at issue do not change any teaching of Holy Scripture.  So, I don't think that our not knowing with certainty in every instance which variant is correct militates against the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  The issue of inerrancy deals with the very basic and easy to understand issue of whether what the Bible records as having happened actually happened.  Did God create Adam and Eve as Moses describes in Genesis?  Was Jonah swallowed up by a great fish?  Did Jesus walk on water?  Did the Red Sea part so that the Israelites could walk over it on dry ground? Did Jesus rise bodily from the grave?  Did Jesus do all of the miracles that the Gospels say he did?  Did an axe float?  Is Genesis 1-11 historical?  Did it actually happen as the text says it happened?  It is dishonest to use the word inerrant to describe the Bible if you don't believe that everything the Bible says happened happened.   

To revisit the car analogy, scratches and dents are easy to recognize. The same is true with most text-critical issues. They are things like spelling variants and the like, most of which hardly affect meaning.

There are some longer passages/variants. But I suppose the process would be like comparing the same model vehicle to see whether it came out with a spoiler or running boards or whether those were added later. Even so, in most cases the longer variants hardly affect meaning any more than running boards affect the operation of a vehicle.

Now, if you introduce historical critical method, you're not so much looking at the text as trying to read behind it. It  is almost entirely speculation. It's an intellectual junkyard.
#12
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 20, 2024, 05:36:18 PM
If I see dents and scratches on my neighbor's car, do I conclude that it rolled of the production line with those dents and scratches? Of course not. I understand the dents and scratches came later.

In the same way, the textual notes in Bibles don't show me that the divinely inspired Scripture is errant. On the contrary, they tell me much more about the problem of sin since sinners have subsequently made mistakes in copying them.

The variants argument does not alter the divine inspiration of the original texts. One should hold to what Scripture says about itself in Psalm 19:7--11 as traditional Jews and Christians do. (And when Jews hold to that, no one should try to trace the thought to "The Fundamentals" or call them fundamentalists. It's silly. It's clearly age-old teaching. )
#13
Your Turn / Re: Highlighting the Walkout
February 20, 2024, 02:03:38 PM
Quote from: MaddogLutheran on February 20, 2024, 01:39:13 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on February 20, 2024, 09:58:24 AMAgain, I ask, which Bible on your shelf has no errors? [snip]

Yawn.

I'll say it again, for the hundred time.  If you know what those errors are, please share them so that we can be disabused of the notion.  What errors are there that are material to our faith?

Because I for one have no interest in having faith in a God that, having revealed to us mortals that we are disobedient to Him, would mislead us in his revelation to us.  Deception does not grow faith.

Focusing on the possibility that the Bible might have errors is just a license to discard anything inconvenient to contemporary human desire.


Sterling, I addressed this matter with him earlier only to find him blanketly accussing those who did not see things he did as liars, which he knows to be false. I've given up on interacting with him.
#14
Welcome!
#15
So, to circle back to the original question from Jason, Lutherans do teach that, apart from and after justification, the Lord rewards His saints for their good works. This includes rewards in eternity, perhaps represented by seats in heaven (e.g., elders nearer the throne) and the crowns awarded (five by my count), which the saints in turn use to praise the Lord. This is not a major locus in the Lutheran Confessions but is represented from 1530 and normative among us for nearly 500 years.

Good question and discussion.
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