Thursday, January 31, 2013

Philip Melanchthon on 2 Corinthians 5:19

Cross-posted from

MelanchthonCorinthiansOne of the Bible passages often cited by modern Lutherans in an attempt to prove that all people have already been justified is 2 Corinthians 5:19. They point especially to the phrase "not imputing their sins to them" ("them" being "the world"). Since the Apostle Paul equates the non-imputation of sins with justification in Romans 4:5-8, they claim that this means that the whole world has already been justified.

But it couldn't be more clear that when Paul speaks of the non-imputation of sins in Rom. 4:5-8, he is referring only to those who have faith, for "his faith is accounted for righteousness."

There are two possibilities here. Either (1) Paul is using the exact same language to describe two different "events," one justification that took place at the cross of Christ without the ministry of the Word and not through faith (2 Cor. 5:19), and another justification that only takes place through faith (Rom. 4:8). Or (2) Paul is using the exact same language to describe the exact same thing, that God does not impute sins to believers in Christ. In other words, justification only through faith.

Luther, Chemnitz and Melanchthon did not see any world justification in 2 Cor. 5:19. On the contrary, they saw Paul highlighting the ministry of the Word and teaching justification only through faith in Christ.

Here follows an excerpt from Philip Melanchthon's 1523 commentary on this verse. Notice to whom God does not impute sin.

Philip Melanchthon's

Annotations on Paul's Epistles: One to the Romans and Two to the Corinthians


(with introductory letter by Dr. Martin Luther)

2 Corinthians 5:19

not imputing their sins to them.

This demonstrates what the effect is of the reconciliation made by the Son. For since God the Father transferred the sins of us all from us to the Son so that He might pay for us the penalty for sins and in this way reconcile again the offended Father, the eternal Father now does not impute sins to those who believe in His Son; He regards them as righteous on account of the obedience and intercession of His Son. For the righteousness of man which God regards as righteousness is that sins are remitted, are not imputed and are covered, as Paul defines righteousness in Romans 4, citing Psalm 32. Therefore, the effect of reconciliation is that sins are not imputed; instead, the faith that embraces Christ the Reconciler is imputed for righteousness.

And He placed among us, etc.

That is, He instituted the ministry of teaching about the reconciliation made through the death of the Son. For God wants it announced to the entire human race that reconciliation has been made by the Son, so that sins are not imputed to believers; instead, righteousness is imputed to them, and thus believers are saved. For this reason, among the ruins of the empires and so many sects and heresies, God has to this day wondrously preserved this ministry, and will continue to preserve it until the end of the world and the advent of His Son, as Paul says, “You shall announce the death of the Lord until He comes.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Polycarp Leyser on the enumeration of causes in justification

Cross-posted from

Like Chemnitz and Hunnius, Polycarp Leyser also wrote of various "causes" that are involved in the justification of sinners. Like the other orthodox Lutheran theologians, Leyser speaks of faith as the "instrumental cause" of justification. In other words, this is the means by which God justifies sinners. Faith is not the one who justifies sinners (that is, the efficient cause). Nor is it what motivates God to justify sinners (the interior motivating cause), nor is it that which earns the justification of the sinner (the meritorious cause). Instead, the Word of God and the faith to which the Word gives birth are the "how" of justification. All of these "causes" are involved, so to speak of justification as already having "taken place" or "happened" apart from any of these "causes," including the "how" of faith, is, Scripturally speaking, nonsense. As the Apology says in IV:67,

But God cannot be treated with, God cannot be apprehended, except through the Word. Accordingly, justification occurs through the Word, just as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise 10, 17: Faith cometh by hearing. And proof can be derived even from this that faith justifies, because, if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies.

Or as the Formula of Concord enumerates the causes in SD:III:25 (without using the word "cause"):

For not everything that belongs to conversion belongs likewise to the article of justification, in and to which belong and are necessary only the grace of God, the merit of Christ, and faith, which receives this in the promise of the Gospel, whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, whence we receive and have forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life.

Here is an excerpt from Leyser's larger work, the year after the Book of Concord was first published.

Theological Assertions Concerning the Justification of Man before God
Polycarp Leyser, 1581

The efficient cause of justification is the entire Holy Trinity. For the Father justifies us, in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6).

The interior motivating cause is not any preceding merit of ours, nor any subsequent satisfaction, but only the free and infallible mercy of God, who sees the miseries of the human race, procures their redemption, and freely justifies us without any condition of the law having been fulfilled by us.

The exterior motivating or meritorious cause is the obedience, suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God and of Man, by which He has perfectly made satisfaction to the Law for us, has made atonement for sins, has defeated death, has conquered Satan, and with the gates of Hades having been broken, has freed us for the freedom of the sons of God.

The formal cause is no inhering quality in us, nor is it the essential righteousness of God dwelling in us. But it is the remission of our sins and the righteousness of Christ alone which the heavenly Father imputes to us as our own, and by this He pronounces us to be righteous.

The instrumental cause with regard to God is the ministry of Word and Sacrament, in which God opens His heavenly treasures, hidden in the Son, and offers them to all men without discrimination or condition.

The instrumental cause with regard to us is faith, which acknowledges the fullness of the divine promise about Christ, offered in the Word and sealed in the Sacraments; embraces it with firm assent; and rests in it with great confidence that has no doubt concerning its salvation.

And since no works of the Law, neither preceding nor present nor subsequent, constitute any cause (either of merit or of application), therefore we rightly and piously declare that man is justified by faith alone in Christ.

The final cause of this free justification is not only that the dignity of God’s righteousness may be acknowledged, but also that our consciences, afflicted by sin in general, may have peace before God.

The effects are: adoption as sons of God, regeneration, the indwelling of God, vivification, eternal life, and innumerable other things.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A bit of Q & A with Hunnius on Justification

Cross-posted from my (other) blog.

Aegidius Hunnius didn't only write on the subject of Justification in the Theses Opposed to Huberianism (linked here). Among other things, he wrote a book (about 250 pages long) called The Article of the Gracious Justification of Sinful Man before God, Explained by Means of Questions and Answers. It'll take me a long time to finish translating that work, especially since I'm currently working on others, but here is a brief series of excerpts.

The Article of the Gracious Justification of Sinful Man before God: Questions and Answers

(Hunnius, p.17 ff)

What does the word “justify” mean in the present discussion?

In a human judgment, they are said “to be justified” who are pronounced free from the guilt of the crimes of which they were accused. (The Scripture speaks in this sense in Deut. 25: If a case arises and they go to judgment, the righteous man should be justified and the ungodly man condemned, as this word “justifying” is understood in both Proverbs 17 and Is. 5). In the same way, understanding the word in the same forensic usage, they are said to be justified before God who, fleeing to the Throne of Grace, are absolved from the guilt of sin and from damnation, and are reckoned as righteous by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which consists in His obedience.

In order that each part may be examined in order, give me such a definition of justification that embraces the sum of the whole treatment that will follow.

Justification is the act of God by which He deigns to consider the man who is frightened by the awareness of sins and who flees to the Throne of Grace with pure mercy, through and for the sake of the merit of Christ, apprehended by faith; and, having forgiven him his sins, He reckons him as righteous, free from damnation, and also an heir of eternal life, without any human merit and without any view of God toward the virtues or the works of man.

What kind of definition is this?

It is a causal definition, seeing that the true causes are being enumerated and the false causes removed.

How many causes of justification are there?

Three. First is grace, that is, the gracious favor of God. Second: The obedience of Christ. Third: Faith.

Why do you number the causes in this order?

I put the grace of God in first place because this was given to us, as the Apostle testifies, before times of eternity, and it is also the source and beginning of the remaining causes, since it occurred by the mercy and grace of God that the Son was sent into the world to satisfy God in our place. Faith, on the other hand, since it is considered relatively to the obedience of Christ as the instrument that apprehends the thing that is apprehended, necessarily presupposes that which is apprehended, namely, the merit of Christ. In the order of causes, the merit of Christ comes before our faith, although in the case of the fathers, who lived before the Messiah was born and suffered, their faith (temporally speaking) existed prior to the suffering of the Lord, as they were naturally looking forward toward that which was to come. Still, if you consider the order of causes, the suffering of the Son comes first before God, who justifies (who views the merit of His Son outside the realm of time). Similarly, if you weigh the order of causes and effects, the suffering of Christ, is naturally prior to the salvation of the patriarchs (for this depends on the suffering of Christ as the effect brought about by the cause), although if you view the priority of time, the fathers gained that salvation before the Lord suffered—indeed, before He was born into the world.

(Hunnius, p.66 ff)

Explain more clearly what this means.

Scripture locates our justification in a twofold imputation, one positive, the other negative. Positive, in that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, which otherwise would not dwell in us. Negative, in that that which does dwell in us, namely, sins, are not imputed. The Apostle writes about both in Romans 4, with these words: As David also explains the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Here you hear of the imputation of righteousness (which, for us, is Christ in His obedience); you hear likewise of the non imputation of sin. Indeed, our justification is located in both, even as one reads again of this latter non-imputation in 2 Cor. 5, God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing sins to them.

As I understand your thinking, you believe that a man who is righteous by nature is justified?

When God justifies a man, He does not justify one who is righteous by nature. For He finds none, in that all have sinned, all have become useless and unrighteous, and fall short of the glory of God. Indeed, Christ did not come for the sake of righteous people, but to save sinners, to seek and to save what was lost. Paul does not hesitate to affirm in this regard that God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4)—not the ungodly as he continues in his ungodliness, but as he acknowledges it and turns to the Throne of Grace, Jesus Christ.

But Proverbs 17 says that it is an abomination before God if someone justifies an ungodly man. Knowing this, how, then, shall we attribute this to God Himself?

There is a great difference between the two. To be sure, in a human judgment (where the imputation of a foreign righteousness has no place), it is called “justifying the ungodly” when he who is neither righteous by his own nor by a foreign righteousness is reckoned and pronounced righteous, without respect to or intervention of any righteousness—that is, by a false and unjust sentence. But in God’s judgment, where a foreign righteousness is valid, the ungodly is justified, not without any righteousness at all, but, since he lacks his own righteousness (and is for this very reason “ungodly” by nature), nonetheless, he is clothed by faith with a foreign righteousness which most certainly can be and is imputed to believers by God, as was just demonstrated.

What is the means of this imputation?

Faith. As it is written, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him as righteousness. And again, To him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is imputed as righteousness.

You said that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. Now it appears from the testimonies that have been produced that faith is imputed for righteousness?

These things are not at odds with one another. For each is imputed to us in its own way. The righteousness of the obedience of Christ is the very thing that is imputed, that is, because of which we are reckoned as righteous and by which we are called “righteous.” But faith is the means of that imputation as it lays hold of the righteousness imputed by God. In this sense, faith itself, insofar as it embraces the righteousness of the obedience of the Savior, is said to be imputed as righteousness.

So then, you are making faith a third cause of our justification?

Very much so. And this together with the Prophets and Apostles, who have set forth that justification of faith illustrated by the example of Abraham (Gen. 15, Rom. 4). Indeed, there are also other testimonies that confirm that man is justified by faith: John 3, God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should have eternal life. Acts 13, Let it be known to you that through this Man the remission of sins is announced to you, and through Him everyone who believes is justified from all the things from which you could not be justified through the law of Moses. And this phrase is often used by the Apostles from the Prophets: The righteous will live by faith. Paul makes this the proposition of his entire disputation in the introduction of the Epistle to the Romans, writing: The righteousness of God is revealed through it (the Gospel), from faith to faith, as it is written: But the righteous will live by his faith. And in Romans 3: But the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all those who believe. And again: We judge that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. And: The inheritance is given by faith, so that [it may be] according to grace, so that the promise may be firm. Many such sayings occur here and there (Acts 10, Gal. 2, Phil. 3, Heb. 11, and elsewhere).

But what do you here understand by “faith”?

Justifying faith is not only the knowledge in the intellect by which we hold the chief articles of the doctrine that has been divinely passed down, which includes that Christ has been crucified, dead, buried, resurrected, etc., but is above all the confidence of the heart with which a man trustingly rests in the satisfaction obtained through the death of Christ.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Change or Die IV

It wouldn't be another year without another Change or Die conference, hosted by Pastor Mark Jeske and Time of Grace.

The list of "Inspirational speakers" can be found here:

The agenda can be found here:

The irony just keeps growing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Witch Hunt Has (Officially) Begun

The following paragraph is from WELS District President Doug Engelbrecht’s summary of the recent meeting of the WELS Conference of Presidents, sent out to the pastors of his district:

PD.02  Intrepid Lutherans
·         Another item involved the Intrepid Lutheran website.  There is a concern that those who still wholeheartedly support this group by being “signers” are also supporting a pastor who has been removed from the ministerium of the WELS for doctrinal reasons, because he has been given a forum on their website.  The consensus was that each district president should approach pastors in their district who are listed as “signers” on the website and determine whether or not they are in support of the false doctrine that the suspended pastor espouses.   

As for me being "given a forum on their website,” the fact is, it’s our website.  I am still part of it (actually, still the chairman of Intrepid Lutherans, Inc.), much to the chagrin of the WELS leadership.  No one is "authorizing" my posts here.  Each of us posts independently, sometimes running our articles by one another for input, sometimes not.

Also, I don’t know how much clearer we can make this so that the COP will understand, but “being signers” on this blog has never meant anything more or less than what we have stated from the beginning on our Stand With Us page:

In what do we invite you to join “with intrepid heart, willing to appear before the judgment seat of Christ?” To what do we ask you, with great consent, to subscribe your name? To the Biblical and Confessional contents of What We Believe. We are not asking you to subscribe to the contents of every post and comment that will appear on this blog.

No error or false doctrine has ever been identified or pointed out to us on our What We Believe page, which has not changed since the first day Intrepid Lutherans rolled out.

The only change we have recently made to our Stand With Us page is to remove the reference to ourselves and our signers as “members of WELS.”  This was never entirely accurate in the first place, because, technically, even lay members of a WELS congregation are not “members of WELS,” since only pastors, male teachers and whole congregations can be “members” of the synod.  As it now stands, there is at least one fully and unmistakably non-WELS member who is an Intrepid signer:  Yours Truly.

Of course, it was not my choice to be a non-WELS member.  That decision was made for me by DP Buchholz back in October.  During one of his visits to my congregation in which he labeled me a heretic and tried to convince my flock to rescind my call (before my suspension), one of my members told him point blank, “This sure seems like a witch hunt.”

DP Buchholz was visibly agitated by that comment, and referred back to it several times over the following weeks.  He assumed that it originated with me, but it didn’t.  My members—most of them, anyway—could see with their own eyes what was going on.  He was indignant at being accused of orchestrating a witch hunt.  The truth hurts, as they say.

Now the witch hunt has become official.  I don’t know what else you call the above “consensus” that was reached by the WELS COP.   Apparently there is some new doctrine of “blog fellowship” lurking around out there in the shadows.  Apparently, since DP Buchholz has labeled me a heretic to be “marked and avoided” (Rom. 16:17), the entire COP has reached a consensus that every WELS pastor must “mark and avoid” me and my "false doctrine," even in the blogosphere, on threat of interrogation and other more sinister repercussions.

Let’s remember what, again, they would have me “marked and avoided” for.  What was that wicked heresy that I was teaching—that unscriptural, unlutheran, “novel” doctrine?

That sinners are justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, and only by faith in Jesus Christ.  Grace alone. Faith alone. Scripture alone.  Sola gratia. Sola fide.  Sola Scriptura. 

Luther has surely turned over several times in his grave.

But since the COP apparently wants to continue the discussion about justification with WELS pastors, I will assist them by attempting, over the coming months, to make my position crystal clear here on this blog, so that they can judge for themselves whether “the suspended pastor” espouses “false doctrine,” or whether the suspended pastor is the one proclaiming the true Gospel, the doctrine confessed in the Lutheran Confessions, the faith once delivered to the saints.  Then readers of this blog will have all the information necessary to make an informed judgment about whether I am someone to “mark and avoid” or someone with whom to stand in solidarity.

In either case, although being a signer of Intrepid Lutherans doesn’t mean you agree with everything I say or write, it has, nonetheless, just become a little more dangerous.  Dear WELS reader, you should be outraged at the witch hunt that has been enacted by the COP.  This is no time for fear.  It’s time to be intrepid!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Memorials to the 2013 WELS Synod Convention Regarding the NIV 2011

Dear Readers,

I hope you have all read the most recent post here on Intrepid Lutherans having to do with the 2011 edition of the New International Version, also known as "New" NIV/NNIV, or NIV '11/NIV 2011. If not, you need to do so and give it serious consideration. Also, in this connection, you might want to re-read the post from about a year ago announcing the findings of the Doctrine Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, our sister synod. In both cases, the confessional Lutheran theologians of these church bodies charged with evaluating matters of doctrine, have come to the conclusion that the aforementioned version of the Bible is not a fully accurate and reliable one. [I prefer not to use the term "translation," for the NNIV, as in my opinion the NNIV is more of a paraphrase than an actual translation, but that's just my opinion.]

As you no doubt may know, the group of WELS men forming the synod's Translation Evaluation Committee have come to a different conclusion, and made that conclusion quite clear at the 2011 WELS convention. Before going any further, let me say for the record that as much as I may disagree with these men, I do not believe them to be bad men with any nefarious intent, or false teachers purposely out to lead our synod astray. In my opinion they seem to have a different point of view and way of looking at this translation issue; namely, that "readability" is more important that "reliability" when it comes to choosing a version of the Bible to use in our synod's publications. In addition, I believe they are sincerely but unnecessarily concerned about issues such as accessibility and inclusiveness, and eliminating what some may perceive as gender or cultural bias in various versions of the Bible. Here, I must admit that I am not very concerned about these matters, as I believe the Holy Spirit can easily overcome any such issues. In short, I do not believe the men on the TEC have a wrong spirit, but are merely wrong-headed. That's my opinion, and I am only speaking for myself on this, not Intrepid Lutherans or anyone else.

That having been said, I believe it is time - indeed way past time - for the rank-in-file Pastors and congregations of the WELS, and also her other leaders, to all investigate this issue thoroughly for themselves and come to some kind of conclusion. The TEC has done its work and given us their opinion. That should not end the study - only begin it! We have now had three groups of very qualified confessional Lutheran theologians in three different confessional Lutheran church bodies look carefully at this matter and give us their findings, and they are quite different. Now it is time for the rest of us to do this work.

Over the next few days Intrepid Lutherans will post a number of Memorials (resolutions, for those not familiar with synod convention parlance), that have been or will be sent to the WELS 2013 convention. Please read them over carefully. If you agree with one or more of them, I urge you to make the same effort. Take these ideas and formulate your own Memorial in your own words and submit it to the office the synod President.

Important note: The synod's Conference of Presidents has decided that Memorials may, as before, be submitted by single individuals, congregations, Circuits, Conferences, and/or Districts, but that, from now on, there may be no more than three signers on Memorials from individuals. Thus, you may not simply add your name to a memorial, even if you agree with it completely. There will be no more Memorials with many dozens of signers. Those coming from congregations, Circuits, Pastoral Conferences, and Districts will be seen as coming from a single entity.

Unfortunately, tomorrow, January 15th, is the deadline for Memorials to appear in the Book of Reports and Memorials (known as the BoRaM). However, Memorials may still be submitted through the month of June. While they will not be printed in the BoRaM, they will be considered by the synod Presidium for inclusion in the convention workbook.

Below is a Memorial that has already been submitted by my Circuit here in Arizona. Others will appear in the following days on this blog. Some may be quite a bit longer and more intense and detailed than the one below. Others may be shorter and emphasize different points. Once again, if you feel strongly on this issue, I urge you to submit a Memorial of your own or with a couple of other people, or encourage your congregation, Circuit, Conference, or District to do so.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Deo Vindice!

Pastor Spencer

Memorial to the Convention of the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod

Subject: NIV 2011

Concerning the NIV 2011's use of gender neutral language


1.) Our sister synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, through its Doctrine Committee, has strongly recommended against the use of the NIV 2011 by its congregations and members, with one of the main reasons being this translation's way of using gender neutral language, and whereas

2.) The Committee on Theology and Church Relations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has also strongly discouraged the use of the NIV 2011 in that church body for the same reason, and whereas

3.) There has been very little independent discussion and analysis of this usage conducted at the grassroots level within local circuits and congregations of the WELS,

 Be it resolved that,

A.) We respect the serious concerns other confessional Lutherans have expressed over the NIV's use of gender neutral language, and be it further resolved, that

 B.) We thoroughly explore, discuss, and evaluate those concerns before we decide whether or not to recommend the NIV 2011 to our church body and mandate its use in our synodical publications, and be it further resolved, that

C.) The Synod Presidium prepare and disseminate a study document presenting their understanding of the NIV 2011's use of gender neutral language, also including in this study the faithfully reproduced objections of fellow confessional Lutherans regarding this use, so that pastors and congregations can objectively discuss and evaluate both positions on this subject of neutral gender language; and be it finally resolved, that

D.) The Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod at its 2013 biennial convention not recommend the NIV 2011 for use in its official synodical publications for the time being, and postpone the decision about which translation of the Bible to use for this purpose until such discussion and evaluation takes place.

Respectfully submitted,

The Chiricahua Circuit of the AZ-CA District

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) recommends against NIV 2011

In December of 2011, a similar headline appeared on Intrepid Lutherans: ELS doctrine committee recommends against NIV 2011. In that post, we reported that the Doctrine Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), “based on preliminary study of the NIV 2011” upon which they found “significant changes to the text of the NIV (1984)... diminish[ing] the accuracy of the NIV,” proceeded to publicly “recommend against the use of the NIV (2011).”

In August of 2012 – coincidentally, shortly following the last of the WELS 2012 District Conventions – the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) issued a similar, though more lengthy, statement expressing their opinion on the strength of the NIV 2011 as a suitable translation for use in the congregation, specifically with reference to its rendering of the Biblical texts in gender inclusive language. The statement was issued at the request of LCMS Synod President Rev. Matt Harrison. The name of this document is CTCR Staff Opinion on Inclusive Language in the New International Version (2011). They conclude on page four:
    ...[W]e find the NIV's Committee on Bible Translation [CBT] decision to substitute plural nouns and pronouns for masculine singular nouns and pronouns to be a serious theological weakness and a misguided attempt to make the truth of God's Word more easily understood. The use of inclusive language in NIV 2011 creates the potential for minimizing the particularity of biblical revelation and, more seriously, at times undermines the saving revelation of Christ as the promised Savior of humankind. Pastors and congregations of the LCMS should be aware of this serious weakness. In our judgment this makes it inappropriate for NIV 2011 to be used as a lectionary Bible or as a Bible to be generally recommended to the laity of our church. This is not a judgment on the entirety of NIV 2011 as a translation – a task that would require a much more extensive study of NIV 2011 – but an opinion as to a specific editorial decision which has serious theological implications.

    (NOTE: in all quotes from this Statement, emphasis is mine)
Leading up to this conclusion, the August 2012 CTCR Statement makes plain that the issue of Gender Neutrality is not one that hasn't already been thoroughly investigated by the LCMS. Unlike WELS, they are not just beginning to discuss it as a Synod, but took the issue of gender neutral Bible translation seriously when it first emerged in the 1990's. Responding to gender neutral editorializing of the Bible, such as that taken up by the translators of the New Revised Standard Version, the CTCR examined the issue closely and at length, issuing in 1998 a document entitled, Biblical Revelation and Inclusive Language (BRIL). The August 2012 CTCR Statement on the issue of inclusive language in the NIV 2011 quotes at length from this 1998 document. It states that, while BRIL “recognizes that 'language evolves' and so takes no position with regard to the propriety of inclusive language in everyday life,”
    [t]he concern that led to [BRIL] had to do with the removal of gender specific language from translations of the Holy Scriptures... and the substitution of gender inclusive language that is not present in the original languages and texts of Scripture. In this regard [BRIL] takes a clear position grounded in the understanding of revelation itself that is held by us as Lutheran Christians:

      This raises a different set of difficulties, for the Scriptures are not merely the rendering of a culturally based understanding of God. They are to be regarded as revelation whose author is finally God himself. Moreover, not only the concepts of Scripture but the very words of Scripture have been given to the biblical authors to write (1 Cor. 2:9-13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Jer. 30:2). While the church will certainly wish to accommodate modern sensibilities and translate anew where the language of the Scriptures allows, the church is not free to alter the language of revelation.
Quoting from BRIL, the August 2012 Statement of the CTCR goes on to say,
    It is in the Word made flesh (John 1:14) that God has fulfilled “his purpose for humankind's eternal destiny.” This purpose, in one particular Person born of Mary at a particular time and place, is revealed in the particularity of Holy Scripture and most specifically “in the written testimony of the evangelical and apostolic writings of the New Testament.” The specificity and particularity of the Word made flesh and the sacred Scriptures compel the church to “resist demands to change the words of Scripture or to replace them with words derived from common human experience, cultural predilections, or the ideas of philosophers and lawgivers.

    Biblical Revelation and Inclusive Language considers two aspects of the debate about masculine language in the Scriptures: the language that is used to refer to God and the language that is used to refer to humanity (both Christians and humanity in general). With regard to biblical language about God, the CTCR concludes: “If one wishes to translate accurately the words of the Scriptures, the language of both the Old Testament and the New Testament is clear enough concerning the terminology about God. God and his Spirit are consistently referred to in masculine terminology.” With regard to language about people, BRIL asserts that whenever the Scriptures speak about people, the texts should be translated in a way that is consistent with “the language which the biblical authors in fact use.”
While merely interpreting concepts and rendering them “with words derived from common human experience, cultural predilections, or the ideas of philosophers and lawgivers” (the way that NIV 2011 does), instead of translating the actual words and grammar “which the biblical authors in fact use,” doesn't adversely affect the meaning of a translation in every case, the August 2012 CTCR Statement stresses that this ideology of translation itself violates our understanding of Biblical revelation in principle, and that this is sufficient grounds for rejecting it, and thus also the NIV 2011. Nevertheless, this brief statement goes on to give two “very significant” examples where the meaning of Scripture is, in fact, adversely affected by the gender inclusive principles espoused by the translators of the NIV 2011. Rather than reproduce the entire Statement here, I leave it to the reader to download and digest its contents. Again, those documents are as follows:It should not escape the readers notice that, based on the CTCR's appeal to the Lutheran understanding of the very nature of Biblical revelation, for WELS to continue embracing the NIV 2011 as a viable translation that is not only suitable but recommended for use in our pulpits and in the homes of our laymen for private study, and which will serve as the Standard translation in all WELS publications – from devotions to hymnals, catechisms and commentaries, and even theological works published by Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) – is to invite a rift with nearly all other confessional Lutherans in America over the nature of Biblical revelation itself, including the doctrines of inspiration, inerrancy and perspicuity.

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