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Friday, June 22, 2018

2-Briggs Heresy Trial; pathetic; 8th Wonder; a 'crank'; Pieper's sarcasm

      This continues from Part 1 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series presenting Dr. Franz Pieper's review and comments on the Great American Heresy Trial, the Briggs Heresy Trial. — In this portion, Pieper finishes his synopsis and begins his own judgment… as a Lutheran.  He is known as a particularly irenic polemicist, but those who promote this side of him would do well to see just how 'un-irenic' he is in this essay… how I love Pieper's sarcasm!
      Lutherans who are reading this series should begin to get the picture that this "Heresy Trial" foreshadows the situation in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 80 years after this trial... and even now.  And so it will be of great interest for that reason. But I get ahead of myself... we want to hear Pieper's own judgment of this matter. He begins in this post, part way down the narrative below:
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Translation by BackToLuther. Original publication in Lehre und Wehre, vol. 39 (June 1893), p. 161-166underlining follows original emphasis, comments in [ ] brackets, and all hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.

The Presbyterians and the Doctrine of the Inspiration
of the Holy Scriptures.
[by Dr. Franz Pieper, Part 2 cont'd from Part 1]

Dr. Briggs was present and had plenty of opportunity to talk. He spoke eleven hours in all, while the Prosecuting Committee had to settle for six hours. An eyewitness described Dr. Briggs’ appearance as “pale and nervous, weak of voice and delicate build, apparently suffering from the strain which he was subjected to. He had the sympathy of all. All would have loved it if he had been able to prove his orthodoxy, if that had been possible. He spoke with earnestness and strength to the end. He gave streams of rhetoric, arguments, explanations, sarcasms, citations, and interpretations of himself. His speech was in some respects a masterpiece.”
He upheld his position in all respects, and he declared that he wanted to maintain it, come what may. Even in private negotiations with him as an individual, to get him to at least make concessions, he declared himself unable to give in. The conclusion of his defense speech was very pathetic. He said: “I tried to explain my views. They are my sincere and heartfelt conviction (I hold them sincerely and with all my heart). I hope (?!) that they are taught in Scripture. I urge you before God to judge me fairly and conscientiously. I urge you before God to judge me according to the documents. I urge you before Christ Jesus to grant me justice in your judgment.”

What is one to think of Dr. Briggs? When somebody so decidedly denies Scripture's inspiration as Dr. Briggs, you have every reason to ask if he still believes in Christianity. Under Christian doctrine we naturally do not understand it to be the Law — for all the pagan religions also have parts of the Law — but the Gospel, that is, the doctrine that a man by grace for the sake of Christ is saved by faith, and not by his own works.

If someone really believes the Gospel, believes that God has saved men from eternal damnation by the vicarious suffering and death through His Son, then he has little inclination to doubt that God has in addition also given to man the Holy Scripture as His infallible Word. Those who believe the doctrine of justification may be temporarily challenged with doubts on the divinity of Scripture, but that he can persistently deny it while retaining the Christian doctrine of the remission of sins by believing in Christ's merit is difficult to accept.
This is certainly not the case with Dr. Briggs. He has — [page 164] according to his clear explanation — completely thrown the Christian faith overboard. He no longer believes the Christian, but rather the completely heathen way of salvation. He expresses this clearly in the more detailed exposition of “progressive sanctification” which he has adopted. He justifies his teaching that the “sanctification” of the soul must evolve still after death, so that he says, one can nevertheless not possibly assume that “father and child, mother and baby, the teacher and the disciple, the sacrificial missionary and the new convert, the zealous evangelist and the thief and murderer who returns to Christ from the gallows in his final hour, — that all should be treated equally”. This argument is based on the denial of Christianity, namely the denial of the doctrine: “For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely [ohne Verdienst = without merit] by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” [Rom. 3:22-24]
Dr. Briggs does not want the thief on the cross to go into paradise at the same time and immediately with the “zealous evangelist”, but only let’s him go first through the “progressive sanctification” because he does not believe that the forgiveness of sins comes about solely for the sake of Christ's merit and therefore for the believer, when he believes and as soon as he believes, all misdeeds are wiped out like a cloud and his sins like a fog. Briggs has thus fallen away from the center of the Christian faith. The fact that the Scriptures, which testify that Holy Scripture is the Word of God, no longer impress him is no wonder to us.
He would have fallen from the Christian faith in his teaching of the way of salvation, when he yet also externally abandoned the Scriptures as God's infallible Word. In addition, Dr. Briggs is the type who is a modern “scientific theologian”, in particular a theologian who has chosen “higher criticism” as his field of activity. This is a peculiar kind of people. The homo criticus communis [common critic] is mainly distinguished by two things.

First of all, he is a gentleman. But only as long as one submits to his eminent erudition and admires him as the eighth wonder of the world.
If one contradicts him, and one casts doubt on the “irrefutable results” of science, then he becomes impertinent and speaks of “traditionalists” who are unable to move on the heights of science. Also Dr. Briggs has not only in his polemic pamphlets treated the defenders of the inerrancy of Scripture as a lower class of people, but also in his defense speech before the Assembly treated himself as misjudged greatly by a misunderstanding public.
Briggs gives the impression that he is acting and speaking bona fide [in good faith]; but he has through “science” and in particular through the “higher criticism” — if you excuse the expression — become a “crank”. He suffers — like the majority of his fellow guild members — [page 165] from “scientifically” fixed ideas. On the other hand, the modern “scientific theologian” is characterized by a high-sounding, foggy diction in which nothing can be thought of with the best of intentions, and which can almost drive anyone desirous of clear thoughts to despair.
= = = = = = = =  Continued in Part 3  = = = = = = = = =

      How I gasped and laughed as I translated Pieper's sharp polemics against Dr. Briggs! I know that I will be coming back to this blog post many times in the future, because Pieper nails “liberal theology” right between the eyes.  He catches them in their own words and by their own words refutes them with the Word, God's Word. But he is only doing what all Christian theologians should be doing – teaching and defending God's Word:
He that is not with me is against me.” -- Matt. 12:30
In the next Part 3, we find that Pieper not only praises the Presbyterians for their action, but also issues a warning...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pieper on Great American Heresy Trial-Briggs Trial (Presbyterians, Part 1)


May 30, 1893
     As introduced by the last post, this begins a short sub-series to publish Prof. Franz Pieper's review article of perhaps the most famous church trial in American history, the Briggs Heresy Trial by the Presbyterians in 1893. It seemed to me that Fuerbringer could have said at least a few words about this essay of Pieper other than just announcing the title, for this Trial made national news.  As one evidence of its notoriety, the Sacramento Record-Union newspaper headlined it in their May 30, 1893 issue: =====>>>>

Philip Schaff, a fellow liberal professor of Dr. Briggs at Union Theological Seminary and well-known “church historian” wrote an article in 1892 as a prelude to this heresy trial.  He called it the trial “which surpasses even the [Lymon] Beecher and the [Albert] Barnes trials in importance and general interest.” — There is a large amount of reading that one can find about this trial and the history of the Presbyterians in America leading up to and subsequent to it.
But as Christians, we want to understand this matter as it relates to the Christian faith.  And so one need not spend any more time reading other accounts but to first read what Dr. Pieper's assessment was.  After all, Pieper was the Lutheran teacher who was asked in 1890 by the great Presbyterian Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield to write the essay for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review on “Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration that was published in April 1893, one month before the “Trial”.  I doubt that any other account of this “Trial” speaks as directly to the heart of the matter than the following essay, and I suspect that Warfield read this judgment of Franz Pieper…  and took it to heart… in 1893.  Ah, but Warfield was not alone among the “Old School Presbyterians”, for there was a certain Dr. Lampe who also defended orthodoxy.  But I get ahead of myself... we will hear more about him later.  Now the greatest spokesman for Christianity in the 20th Century on... the great American Presbyterian “Briggs Heresy Trial” of May, 1893:

Translation by BackToLuther. Original publication in Lehre und Wehre, vol. 39 (June 1893), p. 161-166; underlining follows original emphasis, comments in [ ] brackets, and all hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.
page 161
The Presbyterians and the Doctrine of the Inspiration
of the Holy Scriptures.
[by Dr. Franz Pieper, Part 1]

The Presbyterian General Assembly, which was assembled in Washington in the second half of May, dealt with the well-known “Briggs Case” and brought it to a certain conclusion. The proceedings have caused a sensation in many circles. All the political daily papers produced more or less detailed reports on them, and there would be few newspaper readers in the United States who did not at least temporarily take notice of the Briggs Case. We also consider the events in Washington important enough to discuss them in more detail here.
Professor [Charles Augustus] Briggs was known to have been accused of heresy before the presbytery of New York, especially on the basis of an inaugural address he held when taking a professorship at Union Theological Seminary and in which he frankly and freely had introduced Inspiration as a “higher critic” and denier. The “trial” in front of the presbytery of New York ended, however, with a release of Briggs, when the acquittal was made only with a small majority, and adding the express declaration that they themselves did not thereby confess the position of Dr. Briggs. But the Prosecuting Committee was not satisfied with the judgment and actions of the New York Presbytery.

It submitted an appeal to the General Assembly, which reversed the verdict of the New York Presbytery, finding Prof. Briggs guilty (receiving 383 votes against 116) who in violation of his oath of ordination argued and disseminated his doctrines “which contradict the essential doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and the Confessions of the Church.” The assembly therefore has suspended Prof. Briggs from the preaching office [page 162] “until he has given sufficient proof of his repentance”.1) In a more detailed explanation three points are made in which the General Assembly found Briggs guilty of heresy.
Dr. Briggs claimed that the source of the Christian realization of truth was threefold: the Bible, the Church, and reason. This the assembly rejected and declared that the Church and reason do not have divine authority in matters of faith. Furthermore, Dr. Briggs taught that mistakes are found in Scripture. On this doctrine the Assembly judged that it contradicts the doctrine of Scripture and the Confessions of the Church. Then Briggs had presented a “progressive sanctification”, that is, the doctrine that there is a “middle state” between death and resurrection, in which for some unbelievers there is still an opportunity for conversion and for believers a time to perfect their sanctification.
This doctrine the assembly explained as a dangerous hypothesis. Finally, at the request of Pastor Dr. Young, the assembly yet adopted the statement: “That the Bible as we now have it, in its various translations and versions, when freed from all errors and mistakes of translators, copyists and printers, is the very Word of God, and, consequently, without error.” 2)
Dr. Briggs, of course, remains a professor at Union Seminary, as the assembly has no control over this institution. The contract concluded in 1870, which brought the institution into some connection with the Assembly, was overturned by the directors of the seminary last year. Prof. Francis Brown, a member of the Faculty of Union, said publicly in the Assembly that Union Seminary did not seek recognition from the General Assembly. So then the Assembly stated [page 163]
for its part, that it rejects all responsibility for the teaching of the New York institution and will not receive any reports from it until further notice. Also, students who study at institutions that lack the recognition of the Assembly will no longer be supported by church funds.
1) The official decision reads: “This judiciary said that final judgment of the Presbytery of New York is erroneous and should be and is hereby reversed by the General Assembly sitting as a judicatory in said cause, coming now to enter judgment on said amended charges, finds the appellee, Charles A. Briggs, taught and propagated views, doctrines and teachings, as set forth in said charges, contrary to the essential doctrine of Holy Scripture and the standards of said Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and in violation of the ordination vow of said appellee, which said erroneous views and doctrines strike at the vitals of religion and have been industriously spread; wherefore this General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, sitting as a judicatory in this cause on appeal do and hereby suspend Charles A. Briggs, the said appellee, from the office of a minister in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America until such time as he shall give satisfactory evidence of repentance to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America of the violation by him of the said ordination vow, as herein and heretofore found.”
2) Resolved, That the Bible as we now have it, in its various translations and versions, when freed from all errors and mistakes of translators, copyists and printers, is the very Word of God, and, consequently, without error.
= = = = = = = =  Continued in Part 2  = = = = = = = = = 

      In other reports of the “Trial”, Dr. Briggs denied at least some of the charges on “progressive sanctification”, yet I believe Pieper represents his position fairly.  And oh! Briggs does not escape without a condemnation that is clearer than even the Presbyterian General Assembly handed down against him... in the next Part 2.

= = = = = = =   Table of Contents: Pieper on the Briggs Heresy Trial   = = = = = = = = = 
Part 1: this Intro; Trial particulars
Part 2: pathetic; 8th Wonder; a 'crank'; Pieper's sarcasm
Part 3: contradictory thoughts; cry of 'Science!'; not majority, but God's Word
Part 4: 80 years after: 1973-4 Concordia Seminary "Walkout"; and today, Here and Now?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Pieper as Theologian-4: simple faith; infallibility; Warfield; Synergism?; Briggs heresy trial

[2018-06-20: corrected link to "Baptist" essay.]
      This continues from Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series presenting the full essay “Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian” by President Ludwig Fuerbringer. — In this portion, we hear one of the greatest tributes given to Dr. Pieper apart from that of Prof. Wallace McLaughlin.  Listen now to the works of the greatest Christian theologian of the 20th Century... on sola Scriptura:
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Translation by BackToLuther. Original publication in CTM, vol. 2, October, 1931 (Part 1, p. 721-729); underlining follows original emphasis, comments in [ ] brackets, and all hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.

Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian.
by Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer
(Part 4, cont'd from Part 3)

“We allow ourselves to add the pertinent statements from the report here. The report says: ‘If it was concerning dark human opinions or in hard-to-grasp philosophical problems, agreement would be impossible. But this is the agreement in the articles of the doctrine revealed by God Himself in Scripture.
And how is this doctrine revealed? Not in a way dark and incomprehensible. There is no need for great arts of men to recognize the revealed truth. (Page 726)
Here only simple faith in God’s Word is necessary. He who believes the Word of Scripture has the truth. It is not the case that in God’s Word only dark hints approach the truths of faith, and that people with their wisdom and art must construct the actual doctrines themselves. It is not that God the Lord in his revelation says only A, leaving the wisdom of men to say B and C, and thus to find the alphabet of Christian doctrine themselves. No, all articles of the Christian doctrine are revealed in Scripture in clear words. God has said in Scripture the whole ABCs of Christian doctrine. All that is required is acceptance of the revealed, of the repeating of what is said, of the simple faith ....
We are also accused of a tendency toward the papal infallibility if we assert that we have the truth in all the articles of the Christian doctrine, and thus in complete unity of faith. [ref. this blog post here] But this accusation can only be based on great ignorance or malice. [ref. Scaer’s similar charge against Pieper] The Pope claims that he, for his person, is infallible without, beside, even against God’s Word. We admit that we can be wrong in our person, and that if it comes down to us, we can only be wrong in spiritual matters.
But in doctrine we are not mistaken, but are infallible, inasmuch as we stand by God’s Word, as it is. We speak as God’s Word speaks. In all doctrines we only need to agree to what God’s Word so clearly recites [vorsagt]; that is our whole art. The Lutheran Church only claims to be in possession of the certain whole truth
Pieper then took an active part in the debate which was brought about by the modern decline of the Scripture principle. Because newer theology always asserted Luther’s supposedly “free” position on Scripture and the individual books of the Bible and made use of it, Pieper wrote “On Luther’s Doctrine of Inspiration” (31, 329; text file) and “On Luther’s Position on Scripture”  (42, 360) and showed clearly how superficial and unfounded the assertions found in modern dogmatics, treatises, and journals are.  
He was therefore also asked by the well-known conservative Presbyterian dogmatist at the Princeton Theological Seminary B. B. Warfield to present this matter in English, and thus was published in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review (4, 249) “Luther’s Doctrine of Inspiration. The German theologian Dr. Adolf Zahn gave an account of this article in a shortened version in his work, “Serious Attention to the Madness of Modern Criticism of the Old Testament” (New Series, p. 127). [ref. this blog post] Because one always cited the free form of the quotations in Scripture against verbal inspiration, so Pieper once examined this question and pointed out in “The Form of the Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament” (32, 77) that this free form does not overturn, but rather vastly confirms the biblical Lutheran doctrine of Inspiration. This is explained really satisfactorily only by the fact that the Holy Spirit, the author of the whole Holy Scripture, speaks through the writers of the New Testament and moves freely in the quotations and presides over His own Word. Pieper reported on “The Doctrine of Inspiration Among the Baptists” (32, 145;  text here);  
he treated “The Presbyterians and the Doctrine of the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures” (39, 161; text here); he wrote about “The Latest Attack on the Doctrine of Inspiration in the Hanoverian State Church” (37, 225); he dismissed “Synergism in the Doctrine of Inspiration” (38, 193; text here); he showed how the “Defense of False Doctrine Entails the Falsification of the Scripture Principle” (51, 9; text here); and, on the other hand, he was happy to announce “A Commitment to the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures” and to report that at the gathering of “Augustkonfernz”, widely known at that time, Pastor G. Schulze gave a lecture on the “Glory of Scripture as the Revelation of God”. in which he was unreservedly acquainted with the Christian doctrine of inspiration, but was of course also informed of opposition from the respected theology professor O. Zöckler in Greifswald (37, 353; ).
Because in the dispute over the doctrines of the election of grace and conversion and their foundation in Scripture it was also argued with the so-called analogia fidei, he spoke out in detail about “Use and Misuse of the Analogy of Faith” (49, 321). And the theses he set out on “Scripture and Analogy of the Faith” deserve to be reprinted and published again because they express the correct principles of Scripture interpretation so clearly and definitely. We therefore let them follow here.
= = = = = = = =  continued in Part 5  = = = = = = = =

Synergism and Inspiration?

Fuerbringer gives a wonderful listing of Franz Pieper's great essays in Lehre und Wehre on Inspiration. And for some of these I had to investigate further.  Although “synergism” is normally associated with the Doctrine of Conversion (§ 12, Brief Statement), yet it was also applied by Pieper against errorists on Inspiration.  Prof. Theodore Engelder also recognized this and quoted Pieper's 1892 essay “Synergism in the Doctrine of Inspiration” in his book Scripture Cannot Be Broken, p. 327:
“Where Scripture speaks of the causa efficiens of Scripture only one factor is recognized, the divine factor. Scripture does not say: ‘All Scripture is given partly by inspiration of God, and partly it is produced by men,’ but only: ‘πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος.’ [2 Tim. 3:16] The holy men that took part in this matter are characterized as instruments through whom God spoke. What resulted was not a writing which is half man’s word and half God’s, but Scripture, which is nothing but God’s word (cf. Matt. 1:22; 2:15, etc.; Heb. 10:15) and cannot be broken (John 10:35).” (Lehre und Wehre, 1892, p. 197.)
The Presbyterians & Inspiration: Briggs Heresy Trial
      When Fuerbringer tipped me off to Pieper's essay on the Presbyterians, I had to take the time to fully translate his comments on the famous “Briggs Heresy Trial”. I wondered that the strength that the Presbyterians showed in defrocking and excommunicating (expelling) Dr. Briggs was partly a result of  Franz Pieper's assistance to B. B. Warfield in 1890. —  O yes, the old German Missouri Synod had plenty to say about one of the most famous civil trials in history, the so-called ‘Monkey Trial’ and William Jennings Bryan.  But Franz Pieper also had a part in perhaps the most famous church trial in American history, the famous Briggs Heresy Trial of 1893.  And at the conclusion of this trial, the greatest Lutheran teacher in the world, Professor Franz Pieper, had the final word on its results.  But more than this, Pieper's comments have great application for today's Church.  And so this series on Fuerbringer's testimony will continue only after I publish this great article of Pieper: “The Presbyterians and the Doctrine of the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures” — Then I will return to this series in the next Part 5 where we will hear Pieper's clear teaching on the “rule of faith” or the “Analogy of Faith”.