Forum Package

Author Topic: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica
  (Read 1774 times)

Johannes Andreas Quenstedt

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 657
    • View Profile
Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« on: November 25, 2013, 12:12:38 AM »
Over at Steadfast Lutheran site they done it again with an new controversial emphasis on how cultivating a “relationship” with Jesus is actually detrimental to saving faith. This doctrine, that Lutheranism is incompatible with having a “relationship” with Christ, appears to not be unique to the Steadfast crowd, as it actually was promoted for a time by Norman Nagel at the St. Louis Seminary. Some important excerpts from the Steadfast Lutheran site run as follows:

...One of the favorite new words of the pseudo-Lutherans is “relationship,” and I am here to hold my placard saying “Hey, relationship is not in the Bible,..

...The phrase “relationship with Jesus” is harmful...there is no such thing as a relationship. I owe this insight to my theological mentor Dr. Norman Nagel. It is a creation of the late twentieth century romantic emphasis on psychology and feeling. There is no third thing between you and me called a relationship. There is only you and me and how we treat each other.

...Dr, Nagel was fond of promoting Luther’s notion of standing naked before God. It renders the invented notion of a relationship useless and meaningless. In spiritual matters there is no buffering third thing standing between you and God called a relationship that needs working on. There is just you, standing naked before God in all your sin and He in all His holiness. That kind of puts things into immediate, intuitive perspective. There is no imaginary thing called a relationship. There is just you and God and it is not a pretty picture. - http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=33708


This raises an interesting question: Did Norman Nagel ever wrestle with deeper theological motifs related to sanctification such as the Logos relationship to the new nature of believers, koinonia, theosis and the unio mystica? If so, how did he perceive the theological construct of having a spiritual “relationship” in terms of those doctrines? It reminds me of the question that Professor Kirke once asked in the Narnia series: What do they teach in schools these days?

At any rate, it looks to me like this new emphasis of the Steadfast Lutheran crowd seems to come dangerously close to the teaching of Nicholas von Amsdorf in the 16th century. Amsdorf rejected George Major’s teaching, which was similar to modern Lordship salvation theology (that I believe the Steadfast crowd is trying to address), but inadvertently introduced a new error on the opposite side.

I understand the concern about Lordship Salvation, it is Reformed heresy that is even finding its way into some Lutheran circles. But if we “cooperate” with the Holy Spirit in sanctification with “great weakness” (as the Formula of Concord teaches) than how could there not be a positive “relationship” that exists between a regenerated Christian and his or her God?


« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 01:11:11 AM by Johannes Andreas Quenstedt »

Pr. Don Kirchner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4161
    • View Profile
Re: Nagalian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 12:21:03 AM »
The first thing you need to do is correct your title/heading. It's Nagel and,therefore, Nagelian.
Pr. Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

LutherMan

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5609
    • View Profile
Re: Nagalian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 12:23:36 AM »
Why are you dragging BJS threads over here?  Those of us who choose to post on both sites do so...
LCMS Layman

Johannes Andreas Quenstedt

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 657
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 12:54:22 AM »
Quote
The first thing you need to do is correct your title/heading. It's Nagel and,therefore, Nagelian. - Don Kirchner

Thanks!

Johannes Andreas Quenstedt

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 657
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2013, 11:10:53 AM »
Quote
Why are you dragging BJS threads over here?  Those of us who choose to post on both sites do so... - LutherMan

Well, I've noticed on the internet that there is a lot of cross posting of articles at various sites. And even "BJS" does some cross posting as well. One of the main reasons I've posted a critique of the recent BJS article is to show to the wider Lutheran community that there is some extremely aberrant theology going on in the LCMS. And this bad theology makes certain sexual "libertine" issues in the ELCA look mighty trivial in comparison.

For example, below is a typical response to the above "BJS" article, from a lay person, that was not corrected, clarified or challenged by the editor of "BJS." Taken by itself, without commentary, it is a clear example of how "worm theology" has led to a denial of a grace based approach to the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification:

Thank you Pastor Rossow. This article was excellent. I do not have a relationship with Jesus. I have a relationship to Jesus. I am the sinner/saved, he is the Savior. My “relationship” with God is non-existent. My “relationship” to God is that I am a sinner, deserving of eternal punishment and death–Except for the grace of His son.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 11:14:39 AM »
There are lots of "cross" postings over on that site. But the "cross" I mean has nothing to do with the Christian symbol.

John Mundinger

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4047
  • John 8:31-32
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 11:21:47 AM »
Thank you Pastor Rossow. This article was excellent. I do not have a relationship with Jesus. I have a relationship to Jesus. I am the sinner/saved, he is the Savior. My “relationship” with God is non-existent. My “relationship” to God is that I am a sinner, deserving of eternal punishment and death–Except for the grace of His son.

That reads like an intentional obfuscation for the sake of argument.

If we, as Lutherans, confess that, in Baptism, we share in Christ's crucifixion and resurrection; that Christ names us an claims us as His own, etc. what is that except being a relationship with Christ and with all those who are members of Christ's Body?  It seems to me that the only real point of contention relates to the potential to forget that we are in a relationship with Christ entirely as a consequence of the work of the Holy Spirit and, thus, be tempted to take too much credit for our contribution to the relationship.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Mbecker

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 663
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 11:59:33 AM »
Over at Steadfast Lutheran site they done it again with an new controversial emphasis on how cultivating a “relationship” with Jesus is actually detrimental to saving faith. This doctrine, that Lutheranism is incompatible with having a “relationship” with Christ, appears to not be unique to the Steadfast crowd, as it actually was promoted for a time by Norman Nagel at the St. Louis Seminary. Some important excerpts from the Steadfast Lutheran site run as follows:

...One of the favorite new words of the pseudo-Lutherans is “relationship,” and I am here to hold my placard saying “Hey, relationship is not in the Bible,..

...The phrase “relationship with Jesus” is harmful...there is no such thing as a relationship. I owe this insight to my theological mentor Dr. Norman Nagel. It is a creation of the late twentieth century romantic emphasis on psychology and feeling. There is no third thing between you and me called a relationship. There is only you and me and how we treat each other.

...Dr, Nagel was fond of promoting Luther’s notion of standing naked before God. It renders the invented notion of a relationship useless and meaningless. In spiritual matters there is no buffering third thing standing between you and God called a relationship that needs working on. There is just you, standing naked before God in all your sin and He in all His holiness. That kind of puts things into immediate, intuitive perspective. There is no imaginary thing called a relationship. There is just you and God and it is not a pretty picture. - http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=33708


This raises an interesting question: Did Norman Nagel ever wrestle with deeper theological motifs related to sanctification such as the Logos relationship to the new nature of believers, koinonia, theosis and the unio mystica? If so, how did he perceive the theological construct of having a spiritual “relationship” in terms of those doctrines? It reminds me of the question that Professor Kirke once asked in the Narnia series: What do they teach in schools these days?

At any rate, it looks to me like this new emphasis of the Steadfast Lutheran crowd seems to come dangerously close to the teaching of Nicholas von Amsdorf in the 16th century. Amsdorf rejected George Major’s teaching, which was similar to modern Lordship salvation theology (that I believe the Steadfast crowd is trying to address), but inadvertently introduced a new error on the opposite side.

I understand the concern about Lordship Salvation, it is Reformed heresy that is even finding its way into some Lutheran circles. But if we “cooperate” with the Holy Spirit in sanctification with “great weakness” (as the Formula of Concord teaches) than how could there not be a positive “relationship” that exists between a regenerated Christian and his or her God?

I took every course that Dr. Nagel offered at the SL seminary when I was a student there ('84-88) and I never heard him teach what the BJS folks are attributing to him. He may have taught later on something along the lines of what they are reporting, but I never heard such ideas in my day. I'd have to see the larger context of the quotes they attribute to him.

I cannot imagine Dr. Nagel teaching contrary to what the Apostle Paul teaches regarding "Koinonia" with God's Son (1 Cor. 1:9) or "Koinonia" with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:13). According to Danker, this "Koinonia" is a "close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, CLOSE RELATIONSHIP (hence a favorite expression for the marital relationship as the most intimate between human beings)" (DBAD 552). See all the references to Koinonia in the NT.

And of course in the Eucharist there is a "third thing" between you and God, namely, the body and blood of Christ "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. Through the Eucharist we "participate" or "share" (cognates of Koinonia) in the body and blood of Christ.

If there were only two, God and individuals, then the NT would only speak of God and Koinonoi (companions, partners, sharers). But the NT speaks of the abstract noun, Koinonia, and thus makes reference to the relationship, the fellowship, the communion that God creates between God and forgiven sinners, inclusive of all who participate in the body and blood of Christ.

Matt Becker

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 27617
  • ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν ὃτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2013, 12:19:59 PM »
Thank you Pastor Rossow. This article was excellent. I do not have a relationship with Jesus. I have a relationship to Jesus. I am the sinner/saved, he is the Savior. My “relationship” with God is non-existent. My “relationship” to God is that I am a sinner, deserving of eternal punishment and death–Except for the grace of His son.

That reads like an intentional obfuscation for the sake of argument.


I thought that was my job! :)
Brian Stoffregen
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” ― Albert Einstein

pearson

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1249
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 12:36:27 PM »

For example, below is a typical response to the above "BJS" article, from a lay person, that was not corrected, clarified or challenged by the editor of "BJS." Taken by itself, without commentary, it is a clear example of how "worm theology" has led to a denial of a grace based approach to the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification:

Thank you Pastor Rossow. This article was excellent. I do not have a relationship with Jesus. I have a relationship to Jesus. I am the sinner/saved, he is the Savior. My “relationship” with God is non-existent. My “relationship” to God is that I am a sinner, deserving of eternal punishment and death–Except for the grace of His son.


It might be helpful to define the term "relationship" in this context -- what do people think this term refers to?  It sounds initially to me like this is an exercise in nominalism, in which the only realities are individual particulars -- like me (the sinner) and God -- while abstractions like "relationship" are little more than names that designate nothing in particular.  Luther -- the early Luther, anyway -- is alleged to have been influenced by late medieval nominalism, so maybe that's where some of this comes from.

In any event, I would be interested to know why you think all of this leads to "a denial of a grace based approach to the Lutheran doctrine of sanctification."

Tom Pearson   

LCMS87

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1223
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 12:42:28 PM »
That reads like an intentional obfuscation for the sake of argument.


I thought that was my job! :)

I've always heard that the first step is admitting you have a problem.  :P

A belated happy birthday to you, Pr. Stoffregen.

Team Hesse

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4327
  • Rev. Louis M. Hesse & Debra J. Hesse
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 12:44:48 PM »
That reads like an intentional obfuscation for the sake of argument.


I thought that was my job! :)

I've always heard that the first step is admitting you have a problem.  :P

A belated happy birthday to you, Pr. Stoffregen.


"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."


Lou
The author of this post is either Lou Hesse -- farmer in Central Washington State and bivocational pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church, Moses Lake -- or (less often) his wife, Debbie -- proud supporters of the INSTITUTE OF LUTHERAN THEOLOGY (www.ilt.org)

Johannes Andreas Quenstedt

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 657
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 08:19:46 PM »
Quote
I took every course that Dr. Nagel offered at the SL seminary when I was a student there ('84-88) and I never heard him teach what the BJS folks are attributing to him. He may have taught later on something along the lines of what they are reporting, but I never heard such ideas in my day. I'd have to see the larger context of the quotes they attribute to him.

I cannot imagine Dr. Nagel teaching contrary to what the Apostle Paul teaches regarding "Koinonia" with God's Son (1 Cor. 1:9) or "Koinonia" with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:13). According to Danker, this "Koinonia" is a "close association involving mutual interests and sharing, association, communion, fellowship, CLOSE RELATIONSHIP (hence a favorite expression for the marital relationship as the most intimate between human beings)" (DBAD 552). See all the references to Koinonia in the NT.

And of course in the Eucharist there is a "third thing" between you and God, namely, the body and blood of Christ "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. Through the Eucharist we "participate" or "share" (cognates of Koinonia) in the body and blood of Christ.

If there were only two, God and individuals, then the NT would only speak of God and Koinonoi (companions, partners, sharers). But the NT speaks of the abstract noun, Koinonia, and thus makes reference to the relationship, the fellowship, the communion that God creates between God and forgiven sinners, inclusive of all who participate in the body and blood of Christ. - Matt Becker

Thank you Matt Becker! Though I disagree with you in a few areas, I am truly grateful that you remain a theologian in the LCMS. I believe you are providing a much needed healthy corrective to a Synod that seems to be increasingly drifting, with a shame based theology, towards radical fundamentalism.

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 9606
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2013, 08:41:45 PM »
I don't find anything particularly disturbing about what is quoted here, which amounts to little more than distinguishing between "relationship with" and "relationship to." Do the sun and the earth "have a relationship?" They have a relationship with one another in that the sun shines on the earth and the its gravitational pull determines the movement of the earth. But they don't have a relationship in the sense of interacting at an emotional/psychological level. The reaction at the BJS site seems to me to be little more than resisting the idea of Christians having a relationship with Jesus in the way that someone on Facebook is "in a relationship" with someone else. One's relationship to Jesus is not something one can "work on" the way husbands and wives might decide to work on their marriage. Perhaps I'm reading them wrong, but it seems like little more than deliberately being provocative about rejecting some of the terminology of Evangelicalism.

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 27617
  • ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν ὃτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς
    • View Profile
Re: Nagelian Theology & the Unio Mystica

« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2013, 09:18:37 PM »
Isn't a large part of the importance of the term "Father" for God is that it denotes a relationship that other terms, like Creator, do not?
Brian Stoffregen
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” ― Albert Einstein

 

anything