Confessional Language: C.F.W. Walther’s Essays for the Church

This is found in volume 1, p. 82. The fruits of what is described in the extended quotation are plain to see in the ELCA today, and elsewhere. This remains an important warning for confessional Lutherans today. — ed.

It is extremely important to recognize how necessary it is to place the church’s teachers under obligation not merely not to depart from the Symbols [Creeds and Confessions] in doctrine but also in terminology. Perhaps no other time than our own so proves how necessary it is that those who teach publicly in the church use the right terminology. Recent theologians use language that is incomprehensible not only to the laypeople but also to most pastors. Not only can such horrible, monstrous language not promote explanation of the truth, but it must also inevitably produce error. Our old theologians, even when they are discussing ever so important and difficult points of doctrine, use language that everyone can understand.>The great and learned theologians of today, on the other hand, consider it a disgrace if they do not speak of theological matters in such jargon as only their so-called peers, their guild of scholars, can understand. Thereby they reveal not only a horrible professional pride and clannishness, but with it they have the jesuitical idea so to conceal their own aberrant ideas that only their highly educated like-minded colleagues can understand what they really mean. And by accustoming young students to speak as they do, they hope to introduce their new doctrine into the church, into the pulpits, and finally into all professorships.

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