Thursday, November 15, 2012
Challenging “The Great Scholars and Brains” CN’s 65 Year Battle for True Scholarship
Christian News, November 19, 2012
Last week CN reported that the latest issue of the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly said that when the liberals, often referred to as “moderates,” left Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and formed Seminex, taking more than a 100,000 with them, the LCMS suffered a great “brain drain.” The liberals such as Martin Marty and Jaroslav Pelikan were hailed as the brains the LCMS lost. CN challenged this notion in a long editorial “NO BRAIN DRAIN.”
CN’s battle with “The Great Scholars” began during the editor’s prep school days at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia, Bronxville Prep School and Jr. College (1947-1952) when he got into difficulty for disagreeing with a professor who was a strong defender of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The future CN editor was sent to the principal to get straightened out for suggesting that FDR, contrary to his public promise, wanted war and refused to inform Admiral Kimmel and General Short in Hawaii about the coming Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor he had been told was coming. One of the books the editor informed the professors he had read was The Crime of the Ages by Ludwig A. Fritsch, PhD., D.D. endorsed by Lutheran Hour Speaker Walter Maier. (Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen, pp. 199, 218). The editor soon found out that some of the “Great Scholars” were not always so well informed and at times simply refused to study the evidence when they were uninformed.
When he entered Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 1952 he was not impressed with the scholarship of some of the “Great Scholars” who refused to consider the evidence refuting the J-E-D-P source hypothesis and the translation of Almah in Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” rather than virgin.
He was not impressed with the ridicule by some professors of Senator Joe McCarthy and those concerned about the infiltration of communism exposed by the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities and U.S. Senate Security Committee. Later he was not impressed with the scholarship of those who refused to consider the evidence for the number of Jews exterminated by the Germans during WWII and the existence of gas chambers to exterminate millions.
Here is a section on “Sound Scholarship” in the editor’s Baal or God published in 1965: While the testimony of Scripture settles this issue for the Christian, there is absolutely no scholarly reason why we must reject the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible. Some of the latest and finest scholarship on this subject is found in The Composition of the Pentateuch, A Fresh Examination, by M. Segal, Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, pages 68-114 in Scripta Hierosolymitana, v. VIII, Studies in The Bible, ed. by Chaim Rabin.
Concerning the documentary J-E-D-P source hypothesis, this work says: The reader cannot but be forcibly impressed by the highly artificial character of this complicated process of authorship spread over the centuries. Hebrew literature, or any other literature all the world over, cannot show another example of the production of a literary work by such a succession of recurring amalgamations and such a succession of compilers and redactors centuries apart, all working by one and the same method, as attributed by the Theory to the formation of the Pentateuch. But beside this striking artificiality, the Theory also puts forward highly improbable assumptions without offering any evidence for their veracity. Two disparate authors removed from each other by centuries both agreed to avoid in a large portion of their work the divine name YHWH, which no doubt they constantly used in their daily life, because of some antiquarian theory concerning the time of its revelation. Such avoidance strikes us as pure pedantry quite foreign to the characteristic simplicity of ancient Hebrew writers (p.71).
The preceding pages have made it clear why we must reject the Documentary Theory as an explanation of the composition of the Pentateuch. The theory is complicated, artificial, and anomalous. It is based on unproved assumptions. It uses unreliable criteria for the separation of the text into component documents (p. 95).
[On Genesis] A careful reading of the contents of the book shows clearly that the book is the work of an author with a definite and preconceived purpose, and not a compilation of disconnected fragments put together by late redactors. The narratives in the book are all related - directly or indirectly to its main subject, viz. the story of the covenant with the Patriarchs and the selection of Israel” (p. 98).
[On Leviticus] Such an inspired teacher, who presented a legislation in successive addresses to the people, could only have been Moses in the wilderness. The hypothetical pseudonymous legislators of the critics, working in exilic and post-exilic times, who ascribed their legal composition to Moses, would have written their laws as written and complete compositions, and not as oral and incomplete addresses; (p. 108). It may be surmised that the bulk of the work was composed in the long leisurely years spent at Kadesh (Deut. i, 46), and that the last chapters of Numbers and the whole of Deuteronomy were added in the plains of Moab (Num. xxxvi, 13; Deut. 15; xxviii, 69). The finishing touches were added to the work after the death of the author by his disciples like Joshua and the priests Eleazer and Phineas” (p. 113). The entire J-E-D-P documentary theory, now being advanced in Protestant Sunday School curriculums, has also been discredited by M. Segal "El, Elohim, and YHWH in the Bible" in the Jewish Quarterly Review, 1956, pp. 85-115, and by U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis, 1961. Orthodox theologians have always accepted the Mosaic authorship of the first five books. Walter A. Maier, first International Lutheran Hour speaker and Old Testament professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, lists the following reasons for rejecting the documentary hypothesis, the view that Moses did not write the Pentateuch:
A. It contradicts the plain statements of the Old Testament and of the New Testament that Moses is the author of the Pentateuch. B. It contradicts the internal linguistic evidence of the Pentateuch. . . . .E. It is a theory that has been built up by arbitrary and high-handed procedures.... F. It is a theory that leads to absurdities. . . . G. It is a theory which is built up on a vicious and impossible principle, the evolution of religion, according to which the religion of the Israelites has been a gradual and natural growth from the lower to the higher, and which leaves no room or reason for the supernatural, the divine, the revealed. Such premises are repudiated by every conception of Bibliology and of God which the Scriptures contain.
Reprinted in this issue from the January 28, 1974 Christian News is “Who Are the Scholars?” and “An Open Letter to the Great Scholars at the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.” This letter quotes from Robert Dick Wilson’s “Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly?” It appears on pages 526-533 of A Christian Handbook on Vital Issues which CN sent to all delegates to the LCMS’s 1973 convention. This convention adopted resolution 3-09 condemning the false doctrine in “Faithful to Our Calling – Faithful to Our Lord” adopted by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Dr. Eugene Klug, chief author of 3-09, told CN how helpful his committee found A Christian Handbook on Vital Issues. It helped prepare the convention to take a strong stand vs. the St. Louis seminary. Of course, none of this is mentioned in the LCMS’s CPH published A Seminary in Crisis which credits LCMS President Jacob Preus for the LCMS’s great victory in its battle for the Bible. Unlike many of the organized conservatives, who preferred to work in secrecy behind the scenes, CN regularly tackled the actual theological issues involved and always championed real scholarship while it exposed the anti-scriptural and unscientific scholarship of the liberals. Footnote one to The Twenty-First Century Formula of Concord published last week in CN lists some of the many articles CN has published promoting true biblical scholarship and opposing the anti-scriptural and unscientific scholarship of the liberals. CN opposed the church politics of LCMS President Jacob Preus and the organized conservatives who supported him. When Preus wanted to get rid of Richard Neuhaus, CN urged him not to use any underhanded political means but to remove him for his false doctrine after an open and fair trial. CN then filed formal charges of false doctrine vs. Neuhaus. CN did the same when an LCMS churchman publicly supported abortion. In each case Preus and his supporters refused to deal with these charges in an open and fair matter. Newsweek was correct when it said Christian News called for heresy trials. CN wanted such a trial to expose the scholarship of the liberals as contrary to scripture and the best scholarly evidence.
CN’s battle for true scholarship and opposition to scholars who refuse to consider solid evidence continues after 65 years.