Saturday, March 20, 2010

FW: Wyneken on Common Language and Unity - "Rummaging in the entrails of their very mother"

No one uses this kind of earthy language anymore…


Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Saturday, March 20, 2010 11:07 AM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Wyneken on Common Language and Unity - "Rummaging in the entrails of their very mother"



Here's an extraordinary selection from Friedrich Wyneken (President of the LCMS from 1850-1864), on common language, and how dissension arrises in the church. Wow. May the Lord grant patience, humility and kindness.


Pastor H.



The introduction and use of new, uncommon, or completely suspicious expressions and ways of speaking in the Church, instead of generally acknowledged and customary language in matters of doctrine, faith, and Confession, must necessarily establish confu- sion in the Church. Even if they may be quite harmless in and of themselves, still, the weak are offended by them. A weak Christian does not have the sharp sense of understanding needed to recognize the truth also under these expressions, as is the case with the common expression. And since these matters deal with the dearest and most important things upon which his soul's salvation depends, who can blame him when he is skeptical about such ex- pressions! It must appear suspicious to him that the old acknowledged truth is not set forth by terminology that is the usual expression used among Christians. Everyone knows what he is to understand when the common expressions are used. When uncommon language is used, a person may well conclude that there is something different behind the words. He will fear that with the acceptance of a new manner of speaking, a new doctrine is also on the way. At the same time, he fears that the old truth is being given up along with the old common expression that had been so acceptable to his understanding and was made so valuable to him and dear to his heart.


Some become angry when they see those for whom Christ died offended [by such new ways of speaking]. And why shouldn't they be angry? They cannot remain silent. They point out to the brother who offers the novel language that he is acting incorrectly. They reveal the insidiousness that his manner of speech may well harbor or that may be conjectured by others about it. The unclear language is defended by the selfish claim to righteousness that resides deep in our corrupt nature, and a war over words breaks out. Parties are formed. The arsenal of hell is opened. The envy, quarreling, slandering, evil suspicion, hate, and bitterness, and whatever other shameful passions of Satan are found in the heart, are drawn like weapons. Wielded with great zeal, they are used to serve up affliction, misery, and death. And where does it end? First in schism, then with heresy. Then, before you know it, the devil pushes the warring parties into lies. From the controversy over a word comes a controversy over doctrine. Before one will let go of the expression as false or problematic, he happily takes up the false doctrine and advocates it. Though the opponent originally viewed the expression as innocent enough, or at least not as an attempt to substitute some evil understanding in the Church, he soon uses every means to show how dangerous its use is. And then disciples are found. Then the great multitude will fall for any error or lie other than the truth. The enemy has the last laugh. He has accomplished what he desired. Brothers once so tightly bound in unity stand as enemies over against one another. The Church—the poor, torn, bleeding Church—cries aloud over the wounds inflicted by her own children to whom she had painfully given birth. They don't trouble themselves with the fact that they are rummaging in the entrails of their very mother.


This is the first thing we have to note, if we would remain unified. None of us whom the Lord has placed as shepherds and watchmen in His flock should, under any circum- stance, allow himself to be led from the churchly, established, common, general, acknowledged manner of speaking, as we find it in our Confessions and the writings of the acknowledged orthodox fathers. Moreover, let us be diligent and zealous in studying them ever more thoroughly, in order to lift up the rich treasure of their understanding. And let us ever more place before our congregations the sound and copious ambrosia in the pure, sober, and magnificent platters and goblets of their comprehensive and expressive lan- guage. In doing so, we will happily avoid a chief cause of division. And with god's help, we will also bring our congregations to a ripe, full, healthy, well-founded, and well-grounded understanding, using these fathers for the profit of those who are brow-beat by devil and the children of this age. Those prevented from the joyous grasping of the truth will then be able to fight the good fight and crush the devil.



At Home in the House of My Fathers, p. 382

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