Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. We are in an unpleasant part of church history in which orthodox Lutheranism with its emphasis on correct doctrine and God dealing with us objectively in word and sacrament, was being attacked and undermined by a movement called Pietism, which puts great emphasis on feelings. Last month we met a good fighter for the truth of Lutheranism, Valentin Ernst Loescher. This month we continue our brief look at his life and work.
Be sure to pay special attention to his criticisms of Pietism and ask yourself if we see the same thing in the church today. Professor Krauss continues from last month’s article:
A SPIRITUAL FIGHTER AGAINST PIETISM: V. E. LOESCHER [38.3 part 2]
Loescher, though, had led the battle in a truly spiritual way and led it against the whole length of the Pietistic front. While most other combatants attacked only individual errors or problems associated with Pietism, he attacked them all. There was neither a theoretical nor a practical error that he noticed that was left unscathed. Of course, in this battle wherever he himself was not absolutely clear in doctrine he left himself open to attack by his opponents who would notice and exploit it. But in general, he proved himself to be a truly brave warrior for Christ. He pursued peace more zealously than any other opponent of Pietism, and even more so than his Pietist opponents in Halle. “He delayed the publication of The Complete Timothy Verinus for almost three years in the hope of bringing about concord.” When in 1715 he met Johann F. Buddeus, [1667-1729, considered the most accomplished theologian of his time and professor at Wittenberg and Jena] who was quite favorable toward Pietism, he tried to make him the mediator with the theologians at Halle. In March 1719 a meeting took place between Loescher and A.H. Francke and his colleague Herrenschmidt in Merseburg. It lasted several days, but was unsuccessful, as the documents show. Buddeus’ attempt failed because the Pietist Joachim Lange opposed it.
We cannot possibly relate the entire battle as Loescher led it. Several brief facts have to suffice.
In Timotheus Verinus, Loescher lists the following among the Pietists’ “coarser most indifferent doctrines.” (The “subtle ones” are not cited).
1. Theoretical truth and pure doctrine are in no way the main work; they are not part of the proper essence.
2. No error can do any damage to the soul’s salvation.
3. Virtuous heathen will also be saved even if they remain heathen; Christ and the Kingdom of Grace are hidden in them.
4. One who denied the holy Trinity, Divinity and Atonement, can truly be godly and saved.
5. There is really only one religion, namely Piety; the rest are human trifles and sects.
6. The Holy Scripture and what are learned from it are dead letters and empty husks.
7. Christianity and the way of salvation do not have any definite points of doctrine.
8. One can be saved in all religions, at least in those that call themselves Christian.
9. It is not necessary to have an outward religion.
10. In matters of faith it is sectarian to regard one religion as the best.
He lists as coarse, indifferent practice among the Pietists: “when they advise people to leave our church and to go to the Roman Catholic, Reformed, etc. and regard it as unimportant; when some who truly died as heathens, atheists, Socinian [Unitarians, denying the Trinity] and in other fundamental errors are truly praised as godly and saved; when pure doctrine (and church constitution) are given up; when church fellowship is extended to Socinians, Mennonites and Quakers; when the name “Lutheran” is regarded as sectarian; when Arians and other heretics from long ago who had been sufficiently examined and condemned are considered correct; when one wants to unite obvious error with the true doctrine, when ‘sect making, sectarian being, heretic making’ are thrown around and with the intent of limitless ridicule and abuse.”
It is noted that it is not Loescher’s assertion that all Pietist defended all these indifferent doctrines and practices. But the individuals who did and were attacked for it, were not admonished and chastised by the other Pietists but were defended by them instead. Loescher named and showed the proof “that pious appearing indifferentism is a particular character of bad pietism,” in other words, in doctrine and life the Pietists showed themselves to be indifferent toward pure doctrine—the most precious good.
Loescher, whose truly godly walk was known to all, experienced first-hand that the Pietists were not hindered by their “godliness” from persisting in and overwhelming their orthodox opponents with raw rage and poisonous venom. He rebuked his main Pietist opponent, Dr. Joachim Lange : “In the so-called Form of the Kingdom of the Cross he poured out upon me the strong, bitter defamations: my deception and godlessness could not have possibly been greater; no one else could have incited it so awfully; no one among the enemies of Christ could have done it more wickedly; no one could have spit out slanders more evil; I do it in a Satanic way; in fact, the devil in hell could not do it more wickedly. He attributes to me: true Satanic work of delusion; godlessness that cries to heaven; villainy above villainy; deception and loose morals; a desire to make heretics; an antichrist like being; serpent like, venomous, stinging like a snake; maliciousness that would shame a heathen; truly devilish defamations; poisonous, wicked slander; unashamed impudence of lying; vice of public defamation. He accused me, moreover, of being a completely untruthful forger, of being shameless, that deception is my normal personality; that sophistic behavior is mine by nature; that I never once had natural uprightness or honesty. As much as he could, he made me out be a Saul, a witness against Susanna [which we will read in our apocrypha study this summer], a Jannes and Jambres. Following the defamations that only the extreme hatred can dictate, he also attempted to make me completely contemptible as he imputed to me: foolishness, ignorance not found in any scholarly or common Christian. Finally, he wanted to deprive me of my Christianity and honor of office when he wrote in the work we are considering, Kingdom of the Cross: the miserable condition of my soul is beyond the normal limits and greater than can be humanly conceived; that I am unconverted, blind in spiritual things, without conscience, hardened, a ravenous wolf of the Church; that I converted no one; that I am a theologian of the world; that I am a protector of godless preachers; that there is no spark of the true fear of God in me; that I did not come into the office by God’s leading but by God’s allowance. He accused me of having a seared conscience without feeling, a spirit of fraud, Phariseeism. Finally, so that the measure would be absolutely full, he wrote that heaven is horrified at my error since it is quite truly heretical; I am unsurpassed in wickedness; I should do public penance; the hellish spirit of lies has completely possessed my heart; it is as clear as the sun that I have never properly confessed; that I am a whitewashed tomb and absolutely incapable to believe. He compared me with the apocalyptic animal and attributed to me a mouth of blasphemy.”
All this Loescher proved with citations, which we, of course, omitted. This was the “gentleness” of a main spokesman of pietism against the peaceful defender of orthodoxy.
Loescher was called from earth on 12 February 1749, after he repeated his favorite hymn: Mein Herz ruhet und ist stille, and called out: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [2 Ti. 4.7]. Jesus, help me.” The entire Lutheran Church mourned him who had been its leader in difficult days.
He himself dictated his epitaph—The completed life of V. E. Loescher was restless in works, soothed by the wounds of Christ, and finally ended in the sleep of death—and asked his daughter to write it down so that he may testify before God and man that would remain in the recognized and confessed Evangelical truth until his end and seal it with his death.
So far Professor Krauss
Good afternoon Ladies,
Our next 5th Sunday Lunch is this month, 30 August, which will be our picnic following church at Cowanesque Lake.
We will have maps for those that are going. Please bring a dish to pass, your own meat and table setting. We hope are you planning on attending. If you have any questions see pastor or myself.
We received a nice Thank You note for the quilts we made this year. Thank you Ginnie, Tom and Janet for delivering them to the truck for pick-up and also for storing them through the year. We also want to thank Ginnie for the 100 dress she made for the girls in Africa. They were very pretty and I am sure the girls will love them and look very pretty in them. Thanks again Ginnie for all your work.
Our next meeting is August 16th at Jean's and I am sure she will have a lovely luncheon ready for us when we arrive. Also, be thinking about Ladies Day Out in October.
God Bless and have a great month.
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THRIVENT AND HAVE CHOICE DOLLARS TO DESIGNATE, TO DO SO [lest the money go to non-Lutherans]—AND IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED NAME FAITH AS THE RECIPIENT: We have received $5,953 in Choice Dollars® grant funds since enrolling in the program. Every bit helps!
IT’S BEEN SAID BEFORE IN VARIOUS WAYS, BUT IN LIGHT OF THE SUPREME’S COURT RULING ON HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE WE HAVE TO WONDER WHAT IS IN STORE FOR OUR NATION. 16TH CENTURY LUTHER PASTOR, JOHANN SPANGENBERG, WRITES: For when God wishes to punish a nation, He first takes away all true understanding, sense, reason, wisdom, prudence, sight, and hearing, and lets them walk and talk according to their own thinking and opinion. [The Christian Year of Grace, CPH, 2014, pg.283]
• We are still looking for a congregational historian to record and preserve the history of the congregation.
• If you are on Facebook remember to “like” us [Faith Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod] to stay up to date on latest news affecting our congregation.
COUNFOUNDING AN UNBELIEVER
The following is a quote from the book "Everyday Saints and Other Stories" by Archmandrite Tikhon [Shevkunov]. It was the 2011 Russian Book of the Year winner.
Once in 1986 the [Communist] Party bosses of the [Russian] province of Pskov brought some big shot from the Ministry of Transportation to the monastery.
He was actually a surprisingly calm and decent fellow. For example, he didn’t ask idiotic questions about where the monks’ wives live. And he wasn’t interested in asking us how it was that Yuri Gagarin had flown into space and hadn’t seen God there. But in the end, after spending two hours with Father Nathaniel, this bureaucrat, being impressed by his new acquaintance, could not help himself:
“Listen, I’m amazed talking to you! I don’t think I’ve ever met such an interesting and unusual man in my entire life! But forgive me—how can you with your intelligence possibly believe in…! I mean, after all, science keeps opening newer and newer horizons for humanity! And all without God! The fact is there is no need for him. This year Halley’s Comet will be approaching us. And the scientists have totally been able to calculate its orbit and its speed and its trajectory. And for this, forgive me, absolutely no concept of God is needed!”
“Halley’s Comet, you say?” Father Nathaniel rubbed his beard. “You mean to say that if it’s possible to calculate the orbit of a comet, that makes God unnecessary? Hmm! Just imagine this then: put me by a railroad and give me a piece of paper and a pencil. Within a week of observation I will be able to tell you exactly when and in what direction the trains will be running. But does that mean that there are no conductors, no dispatchers, no station workers, and no minister of transportation even? Of course not!”
IS THE CHURCH ANTI-SCIENCE? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
In fact, if it weren’t for Christianity, the western world would not have ushered in the age of science that we reap the benefits from today.
In his excellent book, How Christianity Changed the World, LCMS professor Alvin J. Schmidt has an interesting chapter on science’s Christian connection. In it he makes the following statements:
…Christianity…has always taught and insisted that there is only one God, a rational being. Without this Christian supposition, there would be no science….If God is a rational being, then may not human beings, who are made in his image, also employ rational processes to study and investigate the world in which they live? That question, of course, was answered in the affirmative when some Christian philosophers linked rationality with the empirical, inductive method [pg. 218-19]
Another prominent presupposition of Christianity is that God, who created the world, is separate and distinct from it. Aristotelian philosophy, on the other hand saw God (or the gods in Aristotle’s pagan thinking) and the universe of nature intertwined…Thus, only in the Christian perspective, which sees God and nature as distinctively separate entities, is science possible….[220-221]
Belief in the rationality of God not only led to the inductive method but also led to the conclusion that the universe is governed rationally by discoverable laws. 
In good Christian scientific form, we are engaged in science right here in Faith’s expansive gardens. If you will look at flower bed behind the pastor's study, you will notice that the flowers are taller at the ends of the bed and shorter in the middle—and if you look at it from the side you will notice even more clearly that the flowers in the front are significantly shorter. What is the reason for that? Coffee! Pastor has been putting the church’s coffee grounds in this flower bed. Because the section on the left can be easily accessed and identified in the winter even when covered with feet of snow, that section gets all the winter coffee grounds—and from the rest of the year if pastor is too lazy to dump it in a more inconvenient spot. In anticipation of the winter, pastor began dumping coffee grounds exclusively on the right hand side in the fall, lest the left side get them all. He also never dumps the grounds in the front of the bed, lest rain run-off stain the sidewalk. This probably explains the shorter ones in front. Every time you drink coffee at church you are helping to promote science and the exploration of the creation at Faith.
WEAK IN FAITH? STILL FIGHTING AGAINST THE SAME SINS?
Luther notes: No [Christian] should take offense at another or despair of himself when he sees or even still feels much sinful weakness, provocation, and desires for unbelief, impatience, etc., even if at times he makes a mistake and stumbles (like St. Peter, who denied Christ [Mark 14.66-72]), as if for that reason God would withdraw from him and cast him off as a useless tool. Rather, he should raise himself up again through repentance and faith in the Word and take comfort that he is in Christ’s kingdom of grace, which is much more powerful than sin [Romans 5.20]. The Holy Spirit is given in such a way that He is not only a present and a gift who gives courage and strength but also one who comforts in weakness and makes him into God’s dwelling where God’s love always remains, through which this weakness is covered up and not imputed. [Luther AE, LXXVII, 349]
THE RESULT OF LUTHERAN MISSION WORK: In his encyclical, "Militantis Ecclesiae," of 01 August 1897, Pope Leo XII [left] described Protestantism as the “Lutheran rebellion, whose evil virus goes wandering about in almost all nations.”
Simple Ways to Witness
To get started as a witness, all you need to know is the Apostles’ Creed and a few things to say about matters of faith. The creed provides a simple outline.
I believe in God the Father
Add to your conversations the following (or similar) simple statements:
• God has given us a beautiful day/ night
• I’ll pray for you [and mean it/ follow through—ed.]
• God bless your day.
These are great ways to start, continue or end a conversation. People do not take offense when you use such expressions. So share these thoughts with confidence. When you are comfortable doing so, follow up with a question:
• Can we talk about matters of faith?
For most people this is a non-threatening question because it simply invites them to share their thoughts about God and faith. You are not requiring them to know a lot, so they will not be quizzed. You are not promising to have all the answers, so you do not need to worry that you will say something wrong.
After you have asked this question, just listen. Be cordial and respectful, learning about what they have experienced and believed. Polite conversation allows that, if they share their thoughts about matters of faith and you have listened, you may share your thoughts about matters of faith with them. They will most likely listen. You can talk about your church, praying to God, or how much faith means to you. Most people are quite comfortable with such conversation.
I believe in Jesus Christ
You have not really borne witness as a Christian until you have spoken with someone about the Lord Jesus Christ. Any religious person might talk about God or a religious upbringing. But Christians believe in and talk about Jesus Christ. Begin this important conversation with a simple question:
• What do you believe about Jesus Christ?
As before, just listen to the answer. Try to understand where they are coming from and what they know about Jesus. If they seem uncomfortable, apologize for making them uncomfortable and suggest that perhaps you could talk another time. If they seem uncomfortable, wait for an opportunity to share what you know and believe about Jesus, such as “Jesus is my Savior.” Or “I pray to Jesus when I’m facing challenges in life.” Let the conversation develop naturally from there. Once again, you do not have to have all the answers. Just share what you know, what you understand. If they ask questions you cannot answer, say, “I don’t know about that. I’d like to talk with my pastor/ bible teacher about that. Okay?” Follow up later.
I believe in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Christian Church
The Holy Spirit makes people Christians and brings them into the fellowship of the Church through Holy Baptism and God’s Word. Many people today believe that they can be Christians without the Church. But Jesus clearly taught that His followers would be a part of the Church, and He taught His disciples how to care for one another in a community of faith.
Follow up your conversation by simply inviting them to church, Bible class, Vacation Bible School, or any event that brings them into contact with other Christians.
Surprisingly, most people say that they would attend a church service if someone invited them. Pray that the Holy Spirit would strengthen you as a witness and pray for the persons to whom you witness. If they come to church with you, introduce them to others who may share their interests or experiences so that they can bear witness to them as well. It is really that simple. [From: Lutheran Study Bible, CPH, pg. 1425]
Generosity Adds Value to Life
Many of the happiest people in life are those who are generous. Being generous is not a self-taught trait. It is a gift that was given to us by a Creator, who is even more generous than we can imagine.
People who give their time live outside of themselves. They give but they also receive. As they give away their time, it has a way of giving to them. They hear accolades and appreciation that encourages their hearts. They know they are doing good things for others and they find a sense of satisfaction in serving.
People who give their talents know that it is a privilege to step in, to help in ways that only they can. They see their abilities as gifts that have allowed them to make the world a better place; to create something of value to others. They feel fulfilled for their efforts.
Still others give their treasures, whether in small or large amounts. They are passing on what was given to them to manage and enjoy. They want to share and make a difference in the lives of others. They are especially gratified when others, especially family, join them in this experience. Givers often receive a greater benefit from giving than those who receive the gift. As Jesus said, it is truly more blessed to given than to receive.
For the Christian, being generous is a powerful way to live out their baptismal calling to live in Christ and be the hands, arms and care of a loving Savior. Generosity adds value to life. Generosity is as much ‘for you’ as it is ‘from you.’ How can we encourage generosity to grow in your life? Why not talk with someone you can trust, someone who cares about you and will help you add such value to your life. For more information contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.>
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