Friday, November 24, 2023

"Brief Paragraphs on the Question: When does the New Testament Economy Begin?" by William F. Beck

William F. Beck is best known for An American Translation, or, as it is often called, the "Beck Bible" and other projects involving presenting the Bible to young and old. If you want to know a little more about Beck, his son Reu wrote an article on him in 2003. Beck also wrote several articles and shorter studies for the synodical seminaries' journals. Brief Paragraphs on the Question: When does the New Testament Economy Begin? in the March 1938 Concordia Theological Monthly was his earliest academic article as far as I can determine. It was written when Beck was a parish pastor in Clayton, IL. The article takes up a question that is natural, and frequently comes up in the mind of anyone who has read the Bible--how and when did the church shift from being under, or following, the particularities of the Old Testament's rites and rituals (economy) to the New Testament rites and rituals (economy)?

He begins by stating what Christians believe and is readily understood concerning the matter: 

Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 3:5,6; 8:6-13; 12:24), set aside the Old Covenant by means of His work of redemption during the thirty-three years of His humiliation (Gal. 4:4,5). In this period He fulfilled the Moral Law by keeping it (Rom. 5:19; 10:4), and by His suffering He freed us from its curse (Gal. 3:13). In this time He also substituted the reality of His atonement for the shadow of the Ceremonial Law and thus made the observance of its ordinances unnecessary (Col. 2:16, 17).

While the basic point is simple to understand, how this transition, or working out, unfolded is a little more complicated, as Beck points out:

The displacement of the old economy by the new nevertheless was not an instantaneous happening. The divine revelations of the abrogation of the whole Covenant and of the individual elements which make up the complex aggregate of the Covenant came at various times. Furthermore, the Covenant was to be eternal. It was difficult, therefore, for a people in whom this Covenant had been inbred to understand that part of it could be set aside, that an act which once was a sin of disobedience punishable by death might by divine direction become a good work. It was also difficult to find the clear line of demarcation between the ceremonial and the moral laws and then to maintain liberty, in the face of great opposition, in regard to the Ceremonial Law. Doubt in regard to the will of God and fear of sinning (e. g., Acts 10:14) lingered in the hearts of God's people and rendered the adoption of the change in practise a gradual one.

He first structures his discussion around the major events in the earthly ministry of Christ: His birth, relation to John the Baptist, baptism, public ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection. He then subjects particular practices of the Old Testament to two questions: "When did God expressly set it aside? At what time did His people become emancipated from it?" He covers the following topics:

Friday, January 20, 2023

"Freemasonry" by Rev. William Dallmann (Tract)

In the tract "Freemasonry," William Dallmann discusses the false teaching and anti-Christian nature of freemasonry. He doesn't get bogged down in broader theories about the masons but rather focuses on hanging their own words around them. This resulted in a brief, helpful summary of the problems and false doctrine of freemasonry.

The full tract is below.

Note: For another tract by Dallmann and a brief introduction to this new series, "Tracts of the old Missouri Synod," click here

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

"Why I Am a 'Missourian'" by Rev. William Dallmann and an Introduction to Tracts of Old Missouri

Tracts have always been a powerful form of popularly "getting the word out." During the Reformation, pamphleteers shaped the public's perception of innumerable topics. While perhaps memes have surpassed the paper tract or pamphlet today, they are still used and are of great use. 

I have seen hundreds of Lutheran tracts and am fascinated by them. They help us see what our forefathers thought was essential to say about particular subjects to a popular audience. Summarization betrays much about how a person, or a Synod, thinks and thus I'd like to share some of the tracts of "Old Missouri." 

Note: When posting tracts, I plan on keeping my commentary brief and posting the complete tract/s.

The first tract is "Why I Am a 'Missourian'" by William Dallmann