Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I coined this word. I am still trying to define what I mean by that term. I have not found words to exactly describe it. As a starter, my idea is being Gospel centered in the sense of majoring on the major -- the Gospel, or Gospel natured-ness, or evangelical-ness. The concept is still being sorted out in my mind.

Here are the following quotes that might give a gist of what I am getting at . This is from Pr. Acroamaticus who is sadly hanging his blogging clovesSad

I believe that if we are still an Evangelical church (and I use that term in the same sense as Sasse did, to describe a church that draws its very life-breath from the Gospel of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, and seeks to proclaim only that Gospel to the world), then we will view WYD and the RC church with a deep ambivalence.

This one is from Bro. Mykola from Ukraine commenting on one of my posts here.


CC[closed communion] had become an invincible barrier even between so called conservative church bodies. It is not a secret that even the CELC and the ILC have not communion of altar. That's why primarily noble CC sometimes transfers into 'near sectarian' tool for emphasis of someone's identity.
So I can't decide definitely if CC practice is undoubtedly evangelical.


BTW, my blogging will be less in the next couple of weeks when I hope to be in Manila. If you have an article you want me to consider posting, please email me.

God give you peace.


acroamaticus said...

Wow, I've been quoted!
You've encouraged me to delay my demise... for the time being, at least.
I've just posted a comment on shenanigans at the Lambeth conference of worldwide Anglicanism, for those interested.

Oh, remember, Lutherans were the "first Evangelicals"...the question is, are we still Evangelical?

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M,

How can one leave a comment on your posts?

Are we still Evangelical? That is always a good question to ask. There is an evangelicality in the BoC that seems to be bypassed or skipped over by some.


Past Elder said...

I'm happy you're keeping the blog going, Acroamaticus! I enjoyed the post on Anglicanism, BTW.

Hell, we were the first "Protestants" too and just like "evangleical", look what's happened to that term -- now in general usage referring to some things Luther didn't even consider Christian and the BOC slams as hard as the errors of Rome.

We'll be evangelical in the sense we meant it to the extent we don't become evangelical in the current general sense or allow it to think zealously guarding and defending what we meant to zealously guard and defend makes us closet Romanists.

acroamaticus said...

Thanks for your encouragment, Past Elder.
I'll link to both of you when I get a blogroll up and running.
Lito, safe travels!

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M,

Thanks for the best wishes.


One who properly sticks to the BoC will never be confused for being a revivalist pietist and never for being a crypto-Romanist.

For the reason that some of your mates at SSP are suspected for being cryptos is because they have denied the evangelicality of the BoC.


acroamaticus said...


True; but within the 'evangelicality' of the BOC there is room for a variety of churchmanship (to use an old fashioned term) in regard to theological emphases, church polity, liturgical syle, even clerical dress (within the bounds of local custom, eccentricity for its own sake may refelct poorly on the Gospel).

To use two examples from the LC-MS of the 1950s-70s:

Dr Robert Preus, as I have been told by someone who knew him, was a 'low church' man in that he was Waltherian in polity, had little regard for liturgical correctness, and almost never wore a clerical collar. Preus was labelled a 'fundamentalist' by his critics, and he is often blamed for introducing church growth into the LC-MS by appointing Waldo Werning to the Fort Wayne faculty, but he was in fact one of the most thoroughly Lutheran of confessional scholars - just read his essays.

On the other hand, his contemporary Dr Arthur Carl Piepkorn was never seen in anything but black clericals (I'm told by someone who knew him that he was even spotted once cleanng his swimming pool in black clericals!), he was a recognised liturgical scholar and practitioner who argued for the restoration of traditional vestments in the LC-MS over the the almost universal Reformed Geneva preaching gown then worn, and in polity he probably had leanings towards episcopacy. Due to his theological emphases, he was regarded as a 'liberal' in some Missouri circles, and he is seen as a father figure by some in the 'Evangelical Catholic' movement within and without the LC-MS. Yet a careful reading of his published essays reveals he was thoroughly grounded in the 'evangelicality' of the BOC through the old Missouri theology that came down from Walther & Pieper (he studied under the latter).

As different as these two men were (and they were sometimes antagonists in internal Missouri politics), and while we today, with the benefit of hindsight, might rightly query some aspects of their theologies, both were proponents of the 'evangelicality' of the BOC, of that I'm sure.

I'm not arguing, let me make it plain, for an Angican style 'comprehensiveness' in the Lutheran Church. That, in my opinion, comes from the weakness of the original Anglican settlement and the subsequent 19th C. battles over the 39 Articles & the Book of Common Prayer, which the evangelicals lost (due to the role of Oxford in producing Anglican bishops). But I would contend that a certain catholicity has always been a part of the Lutheran Church, so that provided the 'evangelicality' is there (and may it be there in spades!), differences in adiaphora have always been tolerated.

So, although I have well-grounded reservations about preachers abandoning alb & stole & wearing a suit, I will refrain from judging them until they have preached, asking 'have they preached the Gospel?'. If so, there may be justifiable reasons for their attire which I should ask them about. Likewise, I have some reservations about presiding ministers wearing a chasuble and genuflecting before the altar, but once again the important question is 'have they preached the Gospel'? Then I will ask them why they have adopted these practices, for it may be that they have good reason to do so, and at least, unlike the suit wearer, they have historical precedent on their side - not unimportant!.

Ironically, I remember at sem being labelled both a 'fundamentalist' and a 'crypto-Catholic'!! Both unjust and uninformed accusations, I might add. But in my view both 'evangelicality' and 'catholicity' are important in keeping the Lutheran Church from the errors of American evangelicalism on the left and Roman Cathoicism on the right.

Enough! To work...

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M.

But I would contend that a certain
catholicity has always been a part of the Lutheran Church, so that
provided the 'evangelicality' is there (and may it be there in
spades!), differences in adiaphora have always been tolerated

This is evangelicality. But note that Piepkorn was criticized by our Sasse, also Piepkorn was the influence of Neuhaus for being a Roman priest today.

To be catholic is to be for the Gospel - this was the point of Augustinian Successor.

When people are more concern with form and that we have not truly worshipped because our form has not reflected the tradition of the Church, this is when evangelicality IMHO has been thrown out of the BoC.

When freedom or adiaphora is no longer tolerated that means there is something more important than the Gospel.

The middle I think is where the center lie, when the middle is no longer fat but thin, evangelicality has been lost.


acroamaticus said...

Just to clarify, I’m not holding Piepkorn up as a model to be emulated, just as an example of a high churchman who was a confessional Lutheran. Remember, Sasse’s comments on Piepkorn came in what he titled a ‘brotherly admonition’, in other words, it was an intra-Lutheran discussion. Sasse still recognised Piepkorn’s position as a confessional theologian even while he was critical of aspects of his theology.
Yes, Sasse was right in his criticism of the Una Sancta movement – to the effect that it lacked a firm grasp of the Lutheran doctrinal heritage, that judgment was proven correct by the subsequent history (btw, one of Sasse’s sons joined the RC church after becoming besotted with Una Sancta, so there was a personal element in this for him as well). But he was too harsh, imv, in his judgment on Piepkorn –criticising him for being weak on sola scriptura when Sasse’s own views on scripture often left something to be desired! I wish both were stronger on scripture, as strong as Preus, who wrote on the inspiration of scripture for his doctoral thesis at Edinburgh and continually returned to that theme with incisive criticisms of the left wing of Missouri in the 1960s. But just read Piepkorn’s ‘What the Reformation was Not’ or ‘Why Still be Lutheran?’ or any of his essays on the confessions to see that Piepkorn was miles away from any equivocation on Reformation theology. Granted, his views on ‘pious opinion’ need to be explored, but while Piepkorn is not beyond criticism, he can’t be held responsible for Neuhaus! The sad case of Neuhaus and his development from LCMS-ELCA-RC is indicative of the great tragedy (to use a favourite Sasse phrase) of the left wing of Missouri which lost its belief in scriptural authority.


Past Elder said...

Ah the good old black Geneva!

When I was a fairly new Lutheran, I was all for the black Geneva. Being former RC, I thought that preserving the liturgy itself without all the trappings was great. In fact, I used to say to pastor that if I weren't so old I'd go to sem and probably come out the only WELS pastor to do the Common Service in a suit!

Pastor explained to me that the Geneva had its name for a reason, and that reason is the Reformed/Calvinist theology which is as wrong as Rome, and was associated with the Pietist movement in our church which had introduced distinctly un-Lutheran elemenets into our practice from which we are yet recovering.

Something being adiaphora does not mean anything goes. There are many good reasons for doing something; divine command is one, and the most important one, of them. I think too often we mistake "if it contradicts Scripture we aren't doing it" for "if it isn't in Scripture we aren't doing it". The former is Lutheran, the latter is not.

It does not elevate an adiaphoron above Scripture when one does it and argues for it. That is only when one places divine command in the list of reasons.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M.

I am interested in Sasse's view on Scripture..

If Piepkorn no longer believed in the innerrancy of Scripture then this touches on the means of grace, so off the rails we go.

You can be liturgical and at the same time liberal.


The freedom of the Gospel means we are free not to follow the flesh, i.e. we are free not to use our liberty to sin, no? Check 1John 2:1-2.

If by my freedom I will cause one to stumble, then I am happy not to exercise my freedom.
Hence, I will not drink my wine in front of Baptist brother if that
will cause him to be scandalized.

Roman Catholics I have no problem, they can drink quite a bit.

When an adiaphoron is elevated to divine command --- you got the traditions of men entering in again.

So I hear often the comment from some LC-MS guys in which a point is clearly an adiaphora but they add without hecitation -- 'aahh, this is not adiaphora' etc.


acroamaticus said...

PE said: It does not elevate an adiaphoron above Scripture when one does it and argues for it. That is only when one places divine command in the list of reasons.

Well said, Past Elder.

Sasse on scripture? Well, this is my view: Sasse & Piepkorn were similar in their doctrine of scripture in that both had reservations about the traditional doctrine of inerrancy handed down from the orthodox Lutherans. But they wanted to reformulate it, rather than dispense with it (bear in mind that the confessions do not have a formal doctrine of scripture, although it's clear from incidental references that they shared the high view of scripture of the fathers and most of the medieval scholastics). But even a doctrine of inerrancy with qualifications represented a change for Sasse. When he came from German, Sasse shared the more neo-orthodox position of, for example, his colleague at Erlangen, Werner Elert (but even then they were on the conservative side of German scholarship; bear in mind also that by education Sasse was firstly a New Testament scholar and was even asked to contribute to Kittel's NT Dictionary). The doctrine of inerrancy was, for the Germans, an antique which they had not really studied, and Sasse shared in the prejudice against this doctrine and never really contended with the orthodox formulation of it. He just repeated the neo-orthodox view that it was untenable. So, for example, if you look at Sasse's quotes from the 17th C. orthodox Lutherans on scripture, you'll find that he appears to be taking the quotes from Barth's Dogmatics rather than his own reading of these theologians. he also doesn't distinguish between early, middle and late developments in orthodoxy, but treats them all as one phenomenon. Ths is unfortunate because the spirit of scholaticism grew in orthodoxy over the years, particularly after Johann Gerhard's magnum opus (which is currently being reprinted in English, btw - Gerhard is the Lutheran Aquinas).
Robert Preus effectively countered Sasse's arguments, which fact Sasse acknowledged at one point (I'd have to check the references), although he continued to express doubts about it, and thus was somewhat inconsistent. But if you read the LCA Thesis of Agreement on Scripture & Inerrancy, you will see a lot of Sasse's work which resulted from his dialogue with the more conservative Missouri-oriented theologians of the old Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA) like Henry Hamann Snr, who really knew his stuff. So, as a result of his interactions with the ELCA here leading up to the church union of 1966; and as a result of an ongoing dialogue with Robert Preus, Sasse became more conservative in his doctrine of scripture, although I think it can be shown that he never quite shook off the neo-orthodox/neo-Lutheran view.
The LCA statements on scripture can be regarded as an attempt to steer a middle path between the old Lutheran orthodox view (which was taught in the ELCA) and the neo-orthodoxy of Barth, Elert, and much 20th C. German theology, which the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia, to which Sasse belonged, was more open to.
By the way, we've never quite reconciled those two streams in the LCA. When I went to sem we had a lecturer who denied inerrancy, even though it is an official doctrine of the LCA.
That's the short version of Sasse on scripture. There's a great collection of his essays on this subject which I can lend to you when I get down there if you like.

L P Cruz said...

Pr. M.

Yep, I would like to borrow as I have very little collection of Lutheran books. I only have one volume of Sasse.

I guess I would be an old Lutheran then when it comes to Scripture, I see it as means of grace so it packs power to lead us to repentance (Law) and faith(Gospel).


acroamaticus said...

I'm an old Lutheran too :0).
I learned my Lutheran theology by reading Pieper in my lunch hours at work. It stood me in good stead when I went to seminary. I'll get the book to you next month.

Past Elder said...

Completely off subject, Lito -- I'm working on a draft for the long awaited post on multitudes and magnitudes and the whole liberal arts thing.

Things are heating up over at Schuetzie's blog -- they're all atitter, speaking of liturgy, at the new translations coming out for the novus ordo, me arguing that contemporary Catholicism is invalid on Catholic grounds alone, let alone Reformation ones, so they're doubly lost. I was particularly happy when the phrase "fouler than an explosion of Satanic flatus" came to me by a most happy inspiration!

Just so you know what a "crypto-papist" is up to!

Kittel, OMG -- we used him, the mind struggles and reels, Bultmann, Moltmann, Abunchofothermanns, ah the days with the seminarians at the Abbey in Historical Jesus and Christ of Faith! God bless me ten times.

L P Cruz said...


I will visit.

Well at least you are the crypto-pap we like, you are truly real roma cath or the pre-vat II kind ;-)

Just joking.

BTW - their stomachs must have curled when you said their cath is invalid on roma cath's grounds alone.

I am sure I will be amused on how they wiggle out of that one!


Past Elder said...

They get out of it by saying there is nothing out of which to get! It's all just me and my anger and bitterness, don't you know.

What amuses me is how what I was taught as the Roman Catholic faith by the Roman Catholic church is now my private opinion but of course Rome has changed nothing of essence.