18 March 2012

Quatenus versus Quia

I don't think that any of us would ever depart from the fact that the divinely inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule and norm of doctrine and practice for Christians. But it is also the fact that Christians of many denominations who confess the same rule and norm come up with different doctrines on the basis of the ascendency of certain passages of the text. While all Christians love the Lord Christ and love His Holy Scriptures, each denominational family reads the Scriptures loyal to that tradition. So undoubtedly when the authors of our Lutheran Confessions argue against not only heathen but also other Christians of Rome and Reformed tendencies they start with Scripture. Then their arguments flow into the various exegesis of the text and into the Fathers of the church beginning with the most ancient and most accepted to the fathers of the current time.

But when one approaches the Formula of Concord which was a document to unify Lutherans who have subscribed to at least the Augustana, if not its Apology and Luther's Large and Small Catechisms, they begin not with scriptural exegesis but with the restatement of the doctrinal faith expressed in those preceding documents which have been quia subscribed. If needed they restate and expand scriptural exegesis and also make references to Luther and to other church fathers.

"But this is not to be understood as if hereby other good, useful, pure books, expositions of the Holy Scriptures, refutations of errors, explanations of doctrinal articles, are not rejected; for as far as [quatenus] they are consistent with the above-mentioned type of doctrine, …the summary of our Christian doctrine is intended to mean only this, that we should have a unanimously accepted, definite, common form of doctrine, which all our evangelical churches together and in common confess, from and according to which, because it has been derived from God’s Word, all other writings should be judged and adjusted as to how far they are to be approved and accepted." [bolding mine] Triglotta. p.855
"We intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm [ad hanc veram normam]and declaration of the pure doctrine." Triglotta. p. 23.

The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are not used to norm the Holy Scriptures as some have charged. They are rather used to norm me, the called and ordained Servant of the Word, the congregation which genuinely desire to call themselves Lutheran and the children of God who dwell under the ever watching eye of their own Under-shepherd. Recognizing the sinfulness of the preacher [Augustana II] and ever present desire of the Devil to corrupt the doctrine of Christ's Church we must realize that we need such a standard, rule and norm to always reform us and keep us in the tradition of exegesis and doctrine with which we have been taught. As St. Paul enjoins us, we should not forsake the traditions [παραδοσεις] which we have taught for they keep us not only as loyal Christians but as loyal Lutherans. Sola Deo Gloria!

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