Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Here We Stand: Charles Porterfield Krauth on the Progress of Error in the Church

I'd like to credit Chris Atwood for his post in January 2005 on Charles Porterfield Krauth and his passage on the progess of error in the church. Here We Stand: Charles Porterfield Krauth on the Progress of Error in the Church

"But the practical result of this principle [of the church tolerating within her bosom those who claim she is teaching error] is one on which there is no need of speculating; it works in one unvarying way. When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three.

It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others. The church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we ask only for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions.

Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them.

From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating, it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church’s faith, but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate that faith, and poistion is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skilful in combating it.

From The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1872, pp. 195-96.


Surprisingly, I found this passage used in an article criticizing the ELS and their doctrine of ministry proposed clarifications. Reader Challenge: Would someone who is familiar with the doctrine of ministry explain why something like this is written? (maybe it is outdated now?) Our pastors will answer any question I have and we've had classes on the proposals at our church, so I think that I am very clear and comfortable with the proposal. However, I read comments like that from someone in the LCMS and I want to understand why someone would say those things. Can someone summarize the LCMS and/or WELS objection in a nutshell for this simple laywoman?

1 comment:

CPA said...

I could tell you what I think about this (and I strongly support the LCMS side on this issue), but I don't know how the ELS/WELS side would respond, what scriptures they would use, etc.