Search This Blog


Monday, September 15, 2014

God's chg of heart-6f: WELS opposes? Not all did...

     This continues from Part 6e (Table of Contents in Part 1, Curia essay in Part 6b) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this Part 6f, I assess the situation with the WELS in general, not just this doctrine of God's Change of Heart.

- - - - - - - - - -
We have seen all 3 WELS theologians, Hoenecke, Becker, and Meyer, attempt to refute the teaching of God's Change of Heart by appealing to passages speaking of God's love.  But Franz Pieper decisively answered this in his essay The Reconciliation Of Man With God, page 76:
The third objection is that God has revealed His love toward men by sending His Son and, in particular, by giving His Son into death. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,” John 3:16. “God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Rom. 5:8. For this reason, so men claim, we cannot speak of the appeasing of God’s wrath through the  death of His Son. Our rejoinder is: According to Scripture the sending of Christ into the world and His death on the cross reveal both factsGod’s love as well as His wrath. When Scripture declares that, when we were still enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him by the death of His Son, Rom. 5:10, it means that through Christ’s death the wrath of God toward guilty mankind has been appeased. But this same fact also manifested God’s love; for it was His great love that moved Him to satisfy His righteousness through the death of His Son, which was impossible for us to accomplish. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. [my emphasis]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
What am I to think of the WELS now?  The WELS was a treasured member of the old Synodical Conference.  Here are some evidences of why the WELS was a valued member:
John Schaller

1) Rick Curia admits that another great teacher of the old Wisconsin Synod, John Schaller († 1920), seemed to teach similarly to Franz Pieper in one respect, although Curia gives no concrete examples.  But I have just now extracted the following from Schaller's Biblical Christology on "Reconciliation":
"...the 'change' ... is a change into another state of mind, the change from a God deeply offended by our sin to a God at peace with the world. The propitiatory work of Christ effects the permanent reconciliation of God. Announcing this fact, the gospel is the word of reconciliation. To preach this gospel is the ministry of reconciliation enjoined upon the church. The message proclaims “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” (Php 4:7; Ro 5:1), not the feeling of restful peace in the hearts of men, but the peace prevailing in the heart of God."  – page 163
Hmmm... this passage does not sound quite like the teaching of Hoenecke, Becker, or Meyer regarding a change in God.  The words "status" and "relationship" are missing here.  Schaller speaks of "a change into another state of mind", "a God at peace with the world", "the peace prevailing in the heart of God".  This comes much closer to the actual meaning of the Word of God.  Schaller may have not used the exact words that Franz Pieper used, but he comes close.  Could it be that Prof. John Schaller sensed that he needed to be more forceful in proclaiming the "Reconciliation" as a true "Minister of Christ", and so he wrote the words in this paragraph as well as he did.

2) In the later years of the Synodical Conference, before its breakup, the WELS worked mightily to convince its larger sibling, the LC-MS, that it was going on the wrong path in many ways.  One can read of this in my Timeline blog posts, Part 1 & 2. One can also read of this in Mark Braun's A Tale of Two Synods.  I read in Curia's essay of the many ways in which the WELS taught and defended the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ).  Especially E.H. Wendland is noted for his wonderful defense of UOJ (here and here) in 1951 and 1954 when the discussion on the Doctrine of Justification was at its peak.

3)  One of the more stirring examples of the strength of the WELS was this:
"...leading scholars of the Bible take some of the chief passages on objective justification and flatly deny that there is such a thing" – WELS Tract. No. 3: Every Sinner Declared Righteous, 1954, page 5 (Significant History..., Endnote 224)
This is a wonderfully clear judgment by the old WELS over the travesty of the old Ohio Synod's "greatest exegete" R.C.H. Lenski, who ridiculed UOJ.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

But Rick Curia presents his own case, and apparently that of the newer WELS, that (paraphrasing):
Leading scholars of the Bible from the WELS take some of the chief passages on God's Change of Heart and flatly deny that there is such a thing.
I must thank Rick Curia in at least one respect – he pointed out this issue and brought to light the wonderful essay of Prof. J.T. Mueller (that I published in this blog series),  even if he rejects God's Change of Heart.  But this whole blog series is dedicated to the blessed memory of Prof. J.T. Mueller.
= = = = = = = = = = =

==>> To today's WELS:

You seem to find yourself in uncomfortable company, if (former) Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia is correct in his judgment.  In January 1983, Rick Curia said (here):
Whether one describes this changed relationship anthropopathically, as a change that took place in God's heart (Walther, Stöckhardt, Pieper, Schaller and the Missouri Synod in general), which has biblical support because the Bible often speaks of God in much the same way; or, certainly more "logically" on the basis of God's immutability, as a change in the status of sinful mankind now as a result of Christ's work of redemption (Hönecke, Lenski--even though he refuses to equate universal reconciliation with universal justification--Meyer, and most Wisconsin Synod pastors today), really doesn't make a great deal of difference. Both are helpful in explaining the change that took place in a way our human minds can begin to grasp it. God, who hated the sinful world has now reconciled the sinful world to himself....
Who is correct --Hoenecke or Pieper? I say, take your pick; and this seems to have been the consistent attitude of the members of the Synodical Conference (although I am also certain that there were strong preferences on either side!) Hoenecke may appeal more to us for logical reasons, but Pieper's position is also defensible on both Scriptural and logical grounds.
Curia has identified this same teaching to be the teaching at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS).  Will you, WLS, now deny this?  Yes WELS, you seem to be using the same arguments as the erring German theologians, such as Ihmels, arguments from reason.  Ihmels spoke of only a change in the "relationship" between God and man, you speak of only a change of the "status" or "relationship" of man before God, while both Ihmels and now WELS reject the teaching of the change in God's heart, at least to some degree or another.  Only the teaching of the great John Schaller, in his book Biblical Christology, keeps my faith from faltering as he does not follow Hoenecke's weakness (like J.P. Meyer) on this critical teaching.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

There is a term used by today's WELS in their Statement of Beliefs, Justification #2 which says of "unbelievers" that they "forfeit the forgiveness won for me by Christ" (John 8:24).  The term "forfeit" can be properly understood, but in a certain sense it could be misunderstood.  If it is understood as though I have rejected the forgiveness, then it is properly understood.  If it is understood as though God had withdrawn His forgiveness, then it not correct. When I turned away from God, the God of my youth, the God of my Lutheran training and upbringing, it was I who rejected the gift of forgiveness in unbelief...  God did not withdraw His forgiveness (and so cause me to forfeit it) because of my unbelief.  No, it is God who is faithful.  It was I who had rejected Him!  In this light, the WELS should reconsider the wording of their Statement of Beliefs so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding.

Again, let me make a clear confession of this now before all the world:
When I left the God of my youth, the God who was presented to me in the Lutheran training of my youth, from Luther's Catechism and from Bible teaching, it was NOT God who caused me to leave Him.  No, the message that brought me back to Him was that He had never left me, He was always there, as I envisioned, in my back pocket where I had stuffed Him, ... He never, ever stopped wanting that I cling to Him in faith.  And it was purely by His Word, The Word Of His Grace, that I was brought back to Him... by the Lutheran Church from above.

What Is Christianity?
And Other Essays

by Francis (Franz) Pieper
As an antidote to this aberration of the WELS that confuses the clear meaning of 2 Cor. 5:19, the reader should now read (as I have now re-read) Franz Pieper's 1916 essay "The Reconciliation of Man with God" (Southern Illinois District of the Missouri Synod).  This essay was the third of six essays translated by the dear J.T. Mueller and published in the book of essays entitled What Is Christianity? And Other Essays.  It is available from CPH and Amazon.  On page 62, Pieper wrote:
But wherein does reconciliation consist? In other words, what does reconciliation involve? God’s reconciliation of the world does not mean that men have changed their attitude toward God, as these words (2 Cor. 5:19) have erroneously been explained; for men, ignorant of God's reconciliation, could never change their attitude toward Him.
No, the reconciliation of the world consists in this, that God “in Christ,” or for Christ’s sake, changed His own sentiment toward man. St. Paul writes: “Not imputing their trespasses unto them."
I believe in the forgiveness of sins!  (Article III, Apostles Creed) Amen! Amen!
= = = = = = = = = = =

In the next Part 6g, I conclude this whole series by going back to Rick Curia, formerly a pastor of the WELS.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

God's chg of heart-6e: WELS opposes? J.P. Meyer? ... a matter of spiritual life or death

     This continues from Part 6d (Table of Contents in Part 1, Curia essay in Part 6b) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this Part 6e, a 3rd respected teacher in the WELS, John P. Meyer, is presented by essayist Rick Curia as showing a "difference" or "disagreement" with this teaching.  References are made to his book Ministers of Christ and, to avoid confusion with a recent 2011 NPH republication of the original 1963 edition, my references are all to the 1963 edition.
     Before I proceed, I want to present a maxim in Lutheran teaching:
The Law must be preached as if there were no Gospel.  The Gospel must be preached as if there were no Law.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3) John P. Meyer († 1964)
Prof. John P. Meyer

     Rick Curia quotes J.P. Meyer, another well regarded teacher of the WELS:
. . . (God) took us out of our former state of being guilty and condemned sinners and placed us into a position before Himself where He regards us as having been purified from our sins, as spotless, unrebukable saints. All of this διὰ Χριστοῦ [by Christ].  If God finds us outside of Christ, He sees us as people who are not only covered over and over with sin, but who are permeated through and through with this poison. But as soon as Christ intervenes, and God looks at us through Christ, then all our sins are screened and blocked out. His all-searching eye finds none, and He pronounces us righteous. [154] – Ministers of Christ, 1963 edition,  pg 108
Curia then adds: "Outside of Christ, doesn't God hate us--because he hates all sinners? Of course!"

But Curia could have also brought the following quote from Meyer's Ministers:
It is important to note that Paul traces the entire matter of justification, peace, etc., to God’s love as its source. God's love is present and productive at the very beginning. It is the motivating cause of our καταλλαγη.  There are some who assume that καταλλασσεΐν points to a change in God, that during the process He changed from an irate into a placated God, that some sort of appeasement took place.—But no, not the least change took place in the heart of God. It was His love which was active during the entire process of καταλλασσεΐν. The change was effected in our status before our Judge. (page 112)
We see in this passage from Meyer the echos of Adolf Hoenecke.  If there was any doubt that the WELS now was using Hoenecke's weakness to directly refute Franz Pieper's teaching regarding God's Change of Heart, that doubt is wiped out by Meyer's statement above.  Indeed, Meyer's teaching appears to be very similar to that of the German theologian Ludwig Ihmels (see Part 4).  The only difference that I can discern between Meyer and Ihmels is that Meyer makes it clear that it was not man who changed his attitude.  Meyer speaks like F. Pieper when he says [page 106]: "We thus see that καταλλαγή does not denote a change in the nature of the sinner, in the attitude of his heart."  But in this very statement, Meyer admits that "reconciliation" implies "a change in nature".  But this is a weak agreement indeed when Meyer then flatly states: "not the least change took place in the heart of God" (page 112).

This departure of J.P. Meyer from the meaning of the words ("reconciling the world unto himself"), no matter how "exegetical" he is thought to be, is a very distasteful thing for me, for this teaching would try to wrench out the good taste I have in my mouth that God WAS in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, that God DID have a Change of Heart!  It was more than our "status" that changed, it was more than our "relationship" that changed... it was GOD HIMSELF who changed.  To say in the same "breath" that "God's love is present and productive at the very beginning" and then try to explain that God is reconciled... reconciled from what?... from His love?!  This teaching would try to keep a good taste in my mouth ostensibly by appealing to the notion that "His love which was active during the entire process of reconciliation".  But I ask again: Reconciled from what?... His love?  I thought His reconciliation was from His wrath.  And if He wasn't reconciled from His wrath, then maybe His wrath isn't fully appeased, maybe He isn't fully reconciled.

No, I cannot let the WELS try to take this away from me!  J.T. Mueller said that this is about "an article with which the Christian faith stands or falls."  Oh, then I cannot try to "smooth over" this "disagreement", we cannot just wink at this disparity, this disagreement, but it becomes...
... a matter of spiritual Life or Death.
I have again rifled through Meyer's book Ministers of Christ to see again how he taught the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification.  His teaching on UOJ is ridiculed by those who mock the teaching of UOJ.  He writes much to defend this, as also Adolf Hoenecke did.  Meyer is still highly regarded today for his way of teaching (exegesis) and his book was republished in 2011 by Northwestern Publishing House (NPH).  There is another statement by Meyer that causes concern for some in the WELS, but that is beyond the scope of this blog post. (Siebert Becker discusses "status of saint" in an essay of his.)

In the next Part 6f is a summation of the WELS teaching on this and other points.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God's chg of heart-6d: WELS opposes? Sieg. Becker? (Curia essay)

     This continues from Part 6c (Table of Contents in Part 1, Curia essay in Part 6b) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this Part 6d, a 2nd respected teacher in the WELS is presented by essayist Rick Curia as potentially showing a "difference" or "disagreement" with this teaching.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2) Siegbert Becker († 1984)
Siegbert Becker

      Rick Curia points out that Siegbert Becker, a highly regarded teacher in the WELS formerly from the LC-MS, also seemed to disagree with Pieper's teaching.  In a previous blog post, I had given the following quote with comments and will repeat it here (see here in Curia's essay):
When Franz Pieper says that when God reconciled the world to himself a change took place in God he uses language that can be justified by biblical usage. ... But we recognize that this is an anthropopathism, that speaks of God in human terms. ... But the change that takes place does not consist in this that his [God's] anger changes to love.
How it pains me to read this from the Prof. Becker, the Siegbert Becker who so faithfully defended the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification.  For Becker himself said Pieper's teaching "can be justified by biblical usage".  Isn't that saying that Pieper's teaching was God's doctrine?  Becker goes into a discussion of the Greek word for "reconcile" and seems to forget Luther's description of God's wrath as a "foreign nature" of God.  Becker even makes a strong statement against this doctrine saying:
This sort of language can only result from a failure to understand the distinction between Law and Gospel.
Well, I must use the same language against Becker and those who teach against God's Change of Heart!  It is absolutely the distinction between Gospel and Law that dictates that the Gospel be the "Evangel", i.e. the glad tidings of great joy!  And when one realizes by the Law that he is doomed before God, then the Evangel MUST be the Good News!... that God HAS CHANGED HIS DISPOSITION, that He Is Reconciled!... that He HAS changed his mind! ... that His Heart HAS Changed!... all for Christ's sake!  The Bible says so!
2 Cor. 5:19 – God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them...
Unless one can believe that God's Heart HAS really changed, that He IS really reconciled, how can one "Taste and see that the Lord is good"? – Psalm 34:8

Because of this weakness of Siegbert Becker, I have had to put him in my "side room" as I keep Luther, Walther and Pieper in my room, my reading room.  Although Becker left the LC-MS, I suspect that vestiges of his training at the University of Chicago and/or Northern Baptist Theological Seminary were hard for him to forget.

Later in his essay, Curia stated:
Dr. Siegbert W. Becker is certainly one of the great spokesmen and defenders of the doctrine of objective justification, sharing the company and stature of men like Walther, Pieper, Stöckhardt and J. P. Meyer. In August of 1971 he wrote ... emphasizing the fact that the Law must be proclaimed in all its fullness ("We shall observe the proper distinction between Law and Gospel only if we remember that our primary purpose in preaching the Law is to make men afraid and sad.")
I would have to agree with (then Pastor) Curia's statement that Becker is one of the better defenders of Objective Justification in the latter portion of the 20th century.  I can personally attest to this, that when a WELS pastor gave me a copy of Becker's essays on "Objective Justification" and "Universal Justification", my faith came alive.  Becker wrote in 1971, after he had left the LC-MS and joined the WELS:
If I were still a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, I would feel inclined to belabor this point at great length, because I always felt that the doctrine of universal or objective justification was gradually fading away in that church.
Just now I had to go back again and learn the history of this Lutheran teacher.  But I could not find any history of Siegert Becker at Concordia Historical Institute's website, surely another sign that CHI is not the spiritual storehouse that some think of it.  No, I had to go to the WELS own website, and there I found a biography written of his life ==>> here <<.  How uplifting to read of Becker's defense of Christian doctrine against his former LC-MS which was falling headlong into heterodoxy!

But after first reading Becker's generally good essays on Justification, I also began to learn that the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification was taught and defended even better by the old (German) Missouri Synod... as I "found more treasures than I knew existed in the training of my youth".  And I must consider Becker's reticence on "God's Change of Heart" (as even he admits that it is "biblical usage") to be an inconsistency, his weakness.  But he did not allow this weakness to overcome his wonderful defense of ... Universal, Objective Justification.

In the next Part 6e, I will cover Rick Curia's 3rd WELS teacher in this matter: John P. Meyer.

God's chg of heart-6c: WELS opposes? Adolf Hoenecke? (Curia essay)

     This continues from Part 6b (Table of Contents in Part 1) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this Part 6c, the first of several teachers in the WELS is presented by essayist Rick Curia as potentially showing a "difference" or "disagreement" with this teaching.
= = = = = = = = = = =
     In 1997, 14 years after his 1983 essay was written,  I had correspondence with the author Pastor Rick Curia (WELS) and discovered that he was no longer in the ministry, no longer a Pastor.  I was dismayed by this but still wanted to correspond with him about the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ).  But I also wanted to find out if he really did not believe that God had a Change of Heart, because this was no small matter to the Christian faith, and to deny that God did have a Change of Heart militates against Objective Justification.  What did Curia write that indicated his denial?  I will begin with the first of his 3 witnesses.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1) Adolf Hoenecke († 1908)
Adolf Hoenecke
     Rick Curia's essay quotes Adolf Hoenecke, who is considered the spiritual father of the WELS (here):
Now the question is whether the reconciliation, in which God reconciles the world to himself, consists of a change in God's disposition over against the world. The answer is: No! For there is no indication for this in the subordinate clauses included in the passages of Scripture cited above (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18,19), which say nothing about a change of mind regarding God's disposition, but only of certain arrangements, judicial facts and activities, such as, "not imputing sins," and, "to make Christ to be sin." – Ev.-Luth. Dogmatik, III, page 191 (Curia translation)
Hoenecke's "No! (Nein!)" presented quite a jolt to me.  And Curia makes this claim:
Hoenecke challenged the common Missourian conception of reconciliation as a "change of heart" or attitude on God's part.
Curia and others believe there is a great disparity in the teaching of Hoenecke and Walther/Pieper on this point.  But Prof. Theo. Engelder also quoted (translating into English) from the same paragraph of Hoenecke and wrote the following in 1933 in an essay entitled "Objective Justification", CTM vol. 4, pgs 566-567:
Dr. A. Hoenecke cannot see anything else in 2 Cor. 5:19. “The καταλλάσσείν on the part of God means that God no longer imputes sin and guilt to the world, as appears from the explanatory in v. 19 and from v. 21, which states that the imputation, which because of the justice of God absolutely cannot be put aside, has taken place, the sins having been imputed to Christ. [*] The καταλλάσσειν as the act of the reconciliation of God is in reality the objective, general absolution, or justification, of the whole world from sin and guilt in Christ, which must and does become a subjective, special one through faith.” (Ev.-Luth. Dogmatik, III, 191-192)
Note the [*] where Engelder omitted a portion.  Because this passage is so important, I am reproducing Hoenecke's original German (with original emphases retained with underlining) where he said this (pgs 191-192):
Das καταλλάσσαν ist von seiten Gottes das in Christo geschehende Aufheben der Sünde- und Schuldzurechnung an die Welt, wie in V. 19 der Zusatz μη λογιζόμενος sagt und V. 21, der die Zurechnung, die absolut nach der Gerechtigkeit Gottes doch einmal nicht unterbleiben konnte, als an Christo geschehen aussagt; vgl. Röm. 3:25: ὃν προέθετο ἱλαστήριον, Gott verwandelt das Verhältnis zwischen sich und der Welt,, indem er, wie Budäus sagt, ein anderer wird in bezug auf die Sünder. Das καταλλάσσαν als Tat der Versöhnung Gottes ist sachlich in Wahrheit die objektive, allgemeine Lossprechung oder Rechtfertigung der ganzen Welt in Christo von Sünde und Schuld, welche eine subjektive, spezielle durch den Glauben werden muß und wird.
Now I want to present this same passage as translated into English in recent years and offered by Northwestern Publishing House as Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, III, 181:
On the part of God, the καταλλάσσείν is the lifting of the attribution of sin and guilt to the world, which occurs in Christ, as the addition μή λογιζόμενος (2 Co 5:19) says; the attribution which could absolutely never be omitted according to the righteousness of God is said to occur in Christ (2 Co 5:21; cf. Ro 3:25 ὃν προέθετο ἱλαστήριον). God changes the relationship between himself and the world in that, as Budaus says, he becomes another in reference to the sinner. The καταλλάσσειν as the act of God’s reconciliation is essentially and truly the objective, universal acquittal or justification of the entire world from sin and guilt in Christ, which must and will become a subjective, special justification through faith.
It is striking to read how Hoenecke can say in the same paragraph: (1) "No!" to a change in God's disposition and then (2) approvingly repeat the statement above that "he (God) becomes another in reference to the sinner".  It is a mystery... where did Prof. Hoenecke come up with the "question... of a change in God's disposition over against the world" that he attempts to answer with his "No!".   Where is the logic when one says God "becomes another" but this does not mean a change in God?  The limitation that Hoenecke places on this passage in a certain way is not consistent.  And therefore I will take the Adolf Hoenecke (as Engelder does) who says:
... he (God) becomes another in reference to the sinner... The καταλλάσσειν as the act of God’s reconciliation is essentially and truly the objective, universal acquittal or justification of the entire world from sin and guilt in Christ.
Rick Curia presents Hoenecke's writing as a defense against "Missourian" teaching and specifically Franz Pieper's teaching.   But I would find it difficult to believe that Hoenecke wrote to refute Missouri's theologians, especially Walther or Franz Pieper.  After all, Pieper had been a student under Hoenecke at some point in his life.  And Pieper stated in his Christian Dogmatics (vol 1, pg 173) that the theology of Hoenecke and Walther was the same, that both were Scripture theologians.  I have spent some time with Hoenecke's teachings and find that he seemed to contradict his own "No!" answer when he admits that God is fully reconciled to the world.  I will call this part of Hoenecke's teaching inconsistenta weak part, a weakness.  Perhaps some WELS theologian who is intimately familiar with Hoenecke's writings could answer for Hoenecke on this point for me.  Whoever this theologian may be, they must answer differently than Rick Curia does.

In the next Part 6d, I will examine Curia's second witness where he thinks he has found a refutation of Pieper's teaching of God's Change of Heart... Prof. Siegbert Becker.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

God's chg of heart-6b: WELS opposes? (Curia essay)

     This continues from Part 6a (Table of Contents in Part 1) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is he defending against?  Read on...
     I have told the reader from the beginning to "Read on", to find out who either opposed or had some disagreement with the way Franz Pieper taught "God's Change of Heart".  Prof. Mueller only mentioned theologians from Germany as the opposition, but the American Lutheran theologians outside the Synodical Conference who opposed Walther's teaching of Universal, Objective Justification also opposed Pieper's teaching on "God's Change of Heart". ...
     But now comes a surprising and distressing source of opposition from a former member of the Synodical Conference – the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod – the WELS.  Before I proceed further, I am publishing an essay that was presented to a pastor's conference of the WELS in January 1983.  It was authored by Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia and is perhaps the most extensive record of events connected with the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification available today.  But it will become apparent later that Curia also presents a serious challenge to Franz Pieper's teaching of God's Change of Heart.
     In a previous blog post, where I compiled a list of theologians and essayists who taught or seemed to support the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ), I mentioned an essayist, a pastor from the WELS – Rick Nicholas Curia.  There I said:
Rick Curia- Significant History of the Doctrine of Objective or Universal Justification- BT764.2 C82 1983.  A student of Siegbert Becker in WELS, he wrote the most exhaustive paper available today.  Only his contention that (old) Missouri and Wisconsin differed in respect to the change/no change in God’s disposition misses the mark.  There was no difference (cf Franz Pieper – Christian Dogmatics) .
Curia has some essays published by the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary on their WLS essays website.  However his major essay ("Significant History...") is strangely missing there.  But it is available on here.  Although I stated before that "There was no difference" between the old Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod, there were some things written that would call this into question.  And Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia has brought this "difference" into the light.  Although there is a major issue against Pastor Curia, I am hereby publishing this entire essay with full text and have added hundreds of hypertext links.  Why am I doing this?  Because this essay has extensive Church History recorded in it, far more than I could publish on my blog.  But even this essay is not fully complete as I had to correct some of Curia's errors and supplement it with even more resource material.  Anyway, here is the entire essay – over a hundred pages, hundreds of Endnotes, hundreds of bibliographic resources.  The essay is so large that it is quite difficult to navigate between the body text and related references and so I have spent some days adding hundreds of hyperlinks to drastically reduce the effort to make use of this document.  I will be referring to this essay in the future.
Underlining is in the original. Highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.

What is most striking about this essay?  After all, Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia
  • offers high praise for the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification, and speaks of it
  • even "On my death bed", 
  • even when on his death bed he asks those visiting to "bring me the Gospel, pure and simple" to
  • "Bring me the good news of the world's justification in Christ!", to 
  • "Tell me that in Christ God has forgiven all sins to all people!", then
  • "Then I'll be able to close my eyes and breathe my last in the peace that transcends all understanding, and with the joy that overcomes the sorrows of life."
... but I must tell the reader that Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia is no longer a pastor... but why?  In the next Part 6b, it will become apparent why Rick Nicholas Curia is no longer in the ministry...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walther: All Reformed sects... were first Lutheran

I spoke in an earlier blog of the confusion of CPH editors on what a "sect" actually is.  It is especially troubling when they attribute their confusion to C.F.W. Walther, since he left no doubt of what constitutes a "sect".  Here is one of his more forceful statements on this subject:
Addresses and Prayers
by C.F.W. Walther
Tr. by Joel R. Baseley
"All of the sects, which have separated from the papacy, were originally Lutheran Churches. The Swiss, the French, the Dutch, the English and the Scottish, so-called Reformed sects were all originally Lutheran, and they have Luther’s Reformation to thank for whatever good things they still retain. Their first martyrs were Lutheran martyrs and were slain, decapitated, burned, entombed alive, hanged, drowned, and assassinated by poison, and the like, by the papists as Lutherans. Indeed, these sects all claim to be more purified of papistic error than the Lutheran Church, but their alleged greater purity consists of their having rejected those doctrines which they cannot, in any way, force to harmonize with their reason." – From Addresses and Prayers, by C.F.W. Walther, page 13, translation by Pastor Joel Baseley from the German Ansprachen und Gebete, page 11.
Today the sects rarely, if ever, thank Luther's Reformation... maybe even criticize and condemn Luther?   Well then we see how much they have departed even from their own roots.

Oh, but what about those who would call themselves by the name "Lutheran", yes, even today's LC-MS?  Didn't they condemn Luther and don't they now even speak of the Bible as a "plastic text"?  Oh, now who's calling who a "sect"?

Monday, August 25, 2014

God's chg of heart-6a: But enough, just biblical truth; Lutheran hymns tell story

     This continues and concludes from Part 5 (Table of Contents in Part 1) presenting my (BTL) translation of J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is he defending against?  Read on...  (this Part 6a concludes the essay, but not my comments)
     In this final installment of the essay, Prof. Mueller concludes his section of quotes from Luther and (as if with a sigh) says "But enough", as if to say "Why is this defense even necessary since this doctrine is so plainly taught in Scripture".  He then appeals to Christianity of all times, quoting hymns from the ages that confirm the Christian's hope in Christ.
Underlining follows author's emphasis, highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   Part 6a: Pages 905-906   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
God's Change of Heart 
in Christ's Work of Reconciliation. 
[by Prof. John Theodore Mueller] 
Again: "That was God's will that He would be a slaughter offering, a reconciliation, a ransom, a redemption, a payment for the sins.  For the wrath of God can not be otherwise reconciled and abolished as by such and so great a sacrifice. as the Son of God, who could not sin.  There was no other sacrifice through which God could be reconciled, as this sacrifice when Christ gave his life for the ascham [guilt offering - Hebrew אָשָׁם]." (St L ed., vol. 6, col. 709, paragr. 175; Am. Ed. vol. 17 uses different version than St. L. ed.)  Also in his exposition of John 18 [19]:28-30 Luther writes of the whole reconciling work of Christ in summary: "The true High Priest has finished His sacrifice, God’s Son has given and sacrificed his body and life as a ransom for sin; and sin is cancelled, God’s wrath reconciled, death overcome, the kingdom of heaven acquired and Heaven opened." (St L ed., vol. 8, col. 962, paragr. 107; not in Am. Ed.)
But enough.  Whoever teaches the satisfactio vicaria according to the Scriptures, cannot sing otherwise, in view of the reconciling death of Christ, than as the hymn-writer: [translation by Peter Krey]
We are the apple of God’s eye
in unceasing peace we now abide
All strife will now be ending.
Indeed, he sings with Paul Gerhardt, who said of the Heavenly Father:
"Go forth, My Son," the Father saith,
"And free men from the fear of death,
From guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Thy Passion men shall share
The fruit of Thy salvation."
[TLH 142, verse 2b and Walther’s Hymnal, #73, verse 2b, pg 50; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #73, verse 2b; ]
And for him, that is the essence of reconciliation; God has let go His anger for the sake of His dear Son; the penalty is carried; the debt is repaid; the wrath is extinguished.  But that is understood by every believer in Christ under Christ's reconciliation.  He confesses:
Now the wrath of God is stilled,
Jesus bore thy condemnation .
He the Law's demands fulfilled,
Cleansed thy sin, and brought salvation.
Death and hell from pow'r are driven,
Thou art now an heir of heaven!
[translation from Walther’s Hymnal, pg 59; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #81, verse 4; melody TLH 16]
How God at our transgression
To anger gives expression,
How loud His thunder rolls,
How fearfully He smiteth,
How sorely He requiteth,–
All this Thy sufferings teach my soul.
[translation from TLH 171 verse 10, and  Walther’s Hymnal, pg 67; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #89, verse 12]
[page 906]  Or:
My manifold transgression
Henceforth can harm me none
Since Jesus' bloody Passion
For me God's grace hath won.
His precious blood my debts hath paid;
Of hell and all its torments
I am no more afraid.
[translation from TLH 152 verse 3, and  Walther’s Hymnal, pg 71; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #94, verse 3]
So confesses the whole Lutheran Christian people in their church hymns, on the one hand, the great wrath of God against sin, on the other hand, the beautiful fruit of the passion of Jesus: the change of disposition in God or God's Change of Heart in Christ's Work of Reconciliation: "I am with God in grace."  And thereby the Christian faith will remain.
But even if one regards the reconciliation much as the settlement of a peace relationship between God and man, one must have to start from the change of heart in God by Christ’s reconciling work. For where a relationship of peace has been created, anger must have been previously present, and so the settlement of a peace relation between God and man in itself includes the change of God in the work of our redeeming Savior.  Again, one understands the reconciliation in such a way as if it consisted in the fact substantially that God has changed his judgment against man in Christ or for Christ sake, the changed judgment assumes also very much the changed disposition of God.  The condemnation came in wrath; the judgment of justification flows from the grace and love acquired by Christ's blood and death. God is reconciled, precisely because of its demanding and punitive justice has been satisfied, so that in fact his grace and love now freely rule and reign and he forgives all sins for the sake of Christ's vicarious satisfaction, indeed already long ago has forgiven.
He, born free of sin and its stain,
Took God's wrath, bore our pain,
Became our Savior,
And brings to us God's favor.
[Walther’s Hymnal, #110, pg 83; not in TLH; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #110, verse 2; or alternate translation:
This Man born without a stain
Took God’s wrath, bore our pain,
Won restoration,
God’s peace, a free salvation.
This magnificent confession of Luther is but truly the confession of all believers in Christ. Therefore, it should also be said frankly and freely in all theological expositions.  God’s change of heart in the reconciling work of Christ is just biblical truth.
J. T. Mueller.
- - - - - - - - - - - End of Essay  - - - - - - - - - - -

     Mueller may have even added to Pieper's wonderful defense of Christian doctrine by showing us that the teaching which wants to exclude a change in God's heart by only speaking of a so-called "peace relationship" between God and man, contradicts itself because it implies that there once was a relationship of wrath.  And so modern theology's half-hearted attempt at the Gospel is just that, half-hearted.  But God's heart is different... that is not how God's Word presents His reconciliation to us.  It took a Martin Luther to uncover again for us exactly what the Word is saying to us... and a Franz Pieper to keep it alive in the 20th Century. —
Walther's Hymnal
     Mueller's final section "6." appeals to the great Lutheran hymns and I had to research Lutheran hymnody, German and English.  What a glorious task!  A somewhat recent book published by Concordia Publishing House was a translation of the old (German) Missouri Synod's hymnbook –Walther's Hymnal, edited and translated by Matthew Carver from the old hymnal Kirchen-Gesangbuch.  Although I was raised with English The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) and still value it, yet this English translation of "Walther's Hymnal" is a wonderful resource for going back to the old (German) Missouri Synod, while reading it in English.  But I wonder if even Matthew Carver realizes the importance of what he has produced. — And another musical resource I discovered was the CD (and MP3s) of Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth, first offered about 10 years ago.  I notice that it was produced here in Indiana, with some portion at Advent Lutheran Church in Zionsville.  For those who would fault Dr. Pieper on his teaching, they will have to swallow their words as they sing the great Lutheran hymns of Luther, Paul Gerhardt, and others. —
     Yes, Prof. J.T. Mueller should be honored in our memory for this magnificent essay.  But were he alive today, I would have to ask Prof. Mueller: Did you learn this doctrine of "God's Change Of Heart" from the Presbyterian-Calvinist Xenia Theological Seminary... or rather from your Lutheran fathers in the faith, Walther and Franz Pieper?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I  spoke earlier of those who opposed Pieper's teaching: German theologians, other American Lutheran teachers and ... a former member of the Synodical Conference.  In the next Part 6b, I will address a surprising source of disagreement... from the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod, the WELS (?)