Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heilige Scheisse

From the Wisconsin Synod’s website Q&A:

Q:On Sunday I had my first introduction to the Athanasian Creed. The Blue Luther's Catechism has nothing on it. My parents visited my church with me this weekend and said that the two WELS churchs (sic) we went to never used it. I also attended Lutheran Grade School at Emanuel New London 1-8th grade and confirmed there and never read it their (sic) either. That brings me to that I have never been introduced to it. The second sentance (sic) struck me and I had to stop reading it aloud with others. "Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever." I have always been taught that we only need to believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. I thought our faith could be as simple as that and not have to be kept "pure in all points (we) will certainly perish forever." I have been reading alot about the Athanasian creed but have found nothing about the topic I am addressing. This definitely seems to be questionable doctrine to me.


A:The Athanasian Creed was written to defend the correct Trinitarian teaching of Athanasius against the error of Arius, who denied the true diety of Christ. A person cannot be saved without faith in the Triune God. If this is the intent of "Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever," the statement can be understood correctly. If it means that a person cannot be saved without a complete understanding of all biblical doctrine, it goes too far. If we were writing the Creed, we would not word it that way, because it is subject to misunderstanding.

  1. The Blue Luther's Catechism has nothing on it.”

True, because that’s the Small Catechism. However, the WELS hymnal, Christian Worship, does have something “on it”.

  1. My parents visited my church with me this weekend and said that the two WELS churchs (sic) we went to never used it. I also attended Lutheran Grade School at Emanuel New London 1-8th grade and confirmed there and never read it their (sic) either.”

Sad, but entirely plausible.

  1. The second sentance (sic) struck me and I had to stop reading it aloud with others. ‘Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever.’”

It struck us too. That is what CW says.

  1. “The Athanasian Creed was written to defend the correct Trinitarian teaching of Athanasius

Might it be better to say “the correct Trinitarian teaching of” the Church?

  1. “A person cannot be saved without faith in the Triune God. If this is the intent of ‘Whoever does not keep this faith pure in all points will certainly perish forever,’ the statement can be understood correctly. If it means that a person cannot be saved without a complete understanding of all biblical doctrine, it goes too far. If we were writing the Creed, we would not word it that way, because it is subject to misunderstanding.”

Ah, okay.… Ignore the arrogance in the last sentence for the moment. It seems (according to our cursory research and our vague memories from our schooling) this exact sentence is ONLY in the WELS version of the Athanasian Creed (if someone out there knows of a source other than CW for this translation, let us know; remember, CW was published in 1993 and translations are not generally able to be sent back in time).

Various translations of the Book of Concord, other Lutheran hymnals (TLH, LSB, LW), and other denominations (LCMS, ELCA, Roman Catholic, Christian Reformed, etc.) all have the following as the second sentence: “Whoever does not keep it whole and undefiled (some: inviolable) will without doubt perish eternally.” The Latin is: “Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in aeternam peribit.” That doesn’t mean quite the same as CW’s “pure in all points”, but is much, much better translated “whole and inviolate (or undefiled)”.

In the Acknowledgements of CW the source of the Nicene Creed translation is listed as “the English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), 1988, altered.” No source is listed for the text of the Athanasian Creed and the ELLC does not have a text of the Athanasian Creed on its website, which has an extensive collection of its translations.

  1. “If we were writing the Creed, we would not word it that way, because it is subject to misunderstanding.”

Huh? It seems THEY DID word the Creed “that way”.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be a sad, sad thing if the wels-synod would take its Q&A off the web. It's so much fun! You can't make this stuff up!

Weezer

rlschultz said...

Weezer,

This is a very good point. We all need some comic relief from the various synods' hi-jinks and the WELS Q&A serves this purpose quite well. Also, for the benefit of those who will not their own research, they can depend upon the WELS Q&A for ex-cathedra type of decisions.

kerner said...

People are always trying to nibble away at orthodoxy, but the Holy Trinity is non-negotiable. Without a true concept of who you are worshipping, you are worshipping a figment of your own imagination.

elephantschild said...

Perhaps someone thought "undefiled" was "too big" a word.

I was told once that the words "mandate" and "precepts" couldn't be used in a song to be taught at VBS because the children wouldn't understand them.

Simply taking 40 seconds to explain the words to the children seemed not to be an option.

Another Kerner said...

Pertinent to the wording of the creeds, in this case, the Nicene Creed in the WELS hymnal:

"....was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became fully human..."

Why, oh why do some tinker with the words?
Or doesn't it make a difference?