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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

On Being a Theologian of Repristination

Because of the array of quotations from Lutheran dogmaticians in his book The Voice of Our Church on the Question Concerning the Church and the Ministry, Walther was branded a “citation theologian.” He refutes this charge as follows:

“When we Lutherans in America again unfolded the good old banner of our Church and closed ranks around it, while roundabout us Zwinglianism, ‘enthusiasm,’ and rationalism were sailing under the Lutheran colors, the cry immediately went up: Another new sect! Some cried: You are on the way to Rome! Others: You are unionistic! Still others: You are independents! Others again: You are Pietists, Enthusiasts, Donatists, Calvinists!—And who can name all the sects that were said to have arisen and been reborn in us? In short, we were said to be anything except what we expressly declared ourselves to be: Confessors of the doctrine of the Reformation, Lutherans. What could we do under these circumstances if we did not want to bear the name of a sect? As long as men denied that we were true Lutherans, we were obliged to appeal constantly to our precious Confessions and the old faithful teachers of our Church as our witnesses. And we are of the opinion that we have done it in a manner that whoever was open to conviction was also compelled to see that we did not follow those faithful fathers of our Church blindly but from personal conviction, that we do not mechanically repeat and imitate, but that we are their sons, so that at all times we could say: ‘I believed, therefore have I spoken.’ ”

— Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, I:165.