Sasse Quote – Quia Subscription

An actual and serious doctrinal pledge can never consist in the pastor pledging himself to a confession in so far as [Quatenus] this confession agrees with the Word of God.  For it is self-evident that a confession in any church which stands upon the sola scriptura [“Scripture alone”] has authority only so far as it agrees with the Bible as the norma normans [the norming norm] and correctly explicates the same.  Here the Lutheran and Reformed are in complete agreement.  Only crass ignorance or malevolent slander has, since the days of the Formula of Concord, been able to condemn our church for placing the confessions over the Bible.  I am of course prepared to surrender any assertion of the confessions or the confessions in their entirety if it be shown to us that the doctrine contained therein is contrary to Scripture.  If the quatenus [in so far as] is meant to say nothing more than this, then we find no difficulty with it.  But the distinction must be made between the question of what we would have to do if our confession did not teach scriptural truth and the entirely different and for us essential question, namely, whether they in fact do teach truth or falsity.  We reject the quatenus because it is used to avoid or minimize the seriousness of this question.  I can only preach with conviction when I, with Luther, am convinced that what I preach is the pure doctrine of the Word.

What in our church’s doctrine is false?  Where does it contradict the Word of God?  Where does it fail to rightly understand the Gospel?  There are concrete answers to these concrete questions.  Thus far Holy Scripture has not been shown to refute our confessions.  The most significant attacks upon our dogma, Calvin’s doctrines of the Lord’s Supper and predestination, are, at most, based upon philosophical considerations and are not grounded in Holy Scripture.  What our congregations ought and must expect from their pastors is a clear yes or no to the question with which we are dealing here.  If we do not know what we teach as church and why we do so, if we leave the question open as to what of our doctrine is correct or perhaps false, then it is actually more correct to replace the pledge to Scripture and confession with the pledge to teach the Holy Scripture according to our best understanding and conscience.  I can only ordain on the basis of the Augustana [the Augsburg Confession] because [quia], after the most serious study of the Scriptures, I am convinced that it is the correct explication of the Gospel.  Only the quia establishes a real pledge to the confessions.  The quatenus is in reality only a polite and mild form of the disintegration of doctrinal confession.

-Hermann Sasse, “Quatenus or Quia” (1938), The Lonely Way, Volume 1, (p. 459)

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