Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pilate & Piepkorn: Truth? Inerrancy?: Crime against God's majesty (Part 1)

     Earlier in Part 3 of my series on "Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian", Ludwig Fuerbringer reported that Dr. Franz Pieper
“would not be tired of reproaching modern theology, ... with their apostasy from this supreme principle of theology, from the divinely inspired and therefore inerrant Scripture”.
Then in the last installment, Part 5, we heard Pieper's ultimate charge against those who deny the full divinity of the Holy Scripture, a charge of a
crime against the divine majesty.  
Of the approximate 40 theologians who publicly, (Faithful, p. 41), repeatedly (1972 CTM “Editorial: A Declaration of Protest and Confession”) protested their right for a “freedom” to use the “historical critical method” to interpret (and overturn) Holy Scriptures, there are many who deserve “honorable mention”.  But there is particularly one who is still greatly honored in today's LC-MS, among its prominent teachers.  That “award” clearly goes to…
Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

You can read about it in their books. Prof. Charles Arand, in his 1995 book Testing the Boundaries pp. 208-232, repeatedly reports on Piepkorn's teachings yet never once defends against them.  He then (p. 265) strongly implies that, along with ELCA theologians, the LC-MS should “promote an evangelical-catholicism, traceable back to Piepkorn, as our best hope for the future.”  That J. A. O. Preus II encouraged this book (p. 11) is quite saddening.

You can hear about it in their 2010 video lectures (Prof. Erik Herrmann, 14:00 - 24:04: “05b. ‘A Very Different Understanding of What Lutheran Is’: 1969 Part 2).  Herrmann essentially exonerates Piepkorn from the errors of the other faculty members.

I have come across no teacher in the LC-MS since 1974 who has publicly reprimanded the teaching of... Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

So I, BackToLuther, as a son of the LC-MS who lost his Christian faith in large part because of the theology behind the “historical critical method”, behind Piepkorn's so-called “confessionalism” (but by God's grace was brought back to the faith), will do so now:
“What Is Truth?”
Pontius Pilate
Arthur Carl Piepkorn, LC–MS theologian
John 18:38

Prof. Arthur Carl Piepkorn’s article title is a question and it was meant in exactly the same way that Pontius Pilate meant his question.  Neither of them was asking the question – they meant it as a rhetorical question, or as Wikipedia explains it:
“A figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.”
There are no scholarly arguments that could convince me otherwise. Piepkorn's real intent, as boldly communicated in just the title of his CTM essay above, is to question the truth of the Holy Scriptures.  This is confirmed in Piepkorn's “I Believe” “confession” in the 1972 Concordia Seminary faculty “majority” publication Faithful to Our Calling, Faithful to Our Lord, Part II, pp. 112-113, where he essentially affirms what the old Iowa Synod taught as “Open Questions”. And I, a son of the LC-MS, fell from my Christian faith over this... apostasy.

This blog grew to be too long for one post, and so it will be continued in the next Part 2.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pieper as Theologian-5: The Church authority on Bible's Authority

      This continues from Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series presenting the full essay “Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian” by President Ludwig Fuerbringer. — In this portion, Pieper elaborates on “rule of faith” or the “Analogy of Faith”, the clarity of Scripture, and the reality for those who deny the authority of Holy Scripture. Pieper's message never wavered whether it was in front of Walther while he lived or in 1892, or in 1899 or in 1906 or in 1922 or... in 1932 in what became the Brief Statement.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
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 5, cont'd from Part 4)

“Holy Scripture, like every other writing, is to be interpreted or not interpreted only by itself.
“When we say that Scripture is interpreted according to faith (according to the analogy of faith), so we thereby mean it to be, as with the proper teachers, nothing other than that Scripture is limited only by itself, namely, dark passages of Scripture are only to be explained by the clear passages of the same Scripture. Interpretation of Scripture in accordance with a norm that is not Scripture itself (tradition, consensus of the Church, “spirit,” “enlightened reason,” “whole of Scripture,” etc.) is not interpretation, but criticism of Scripture. [Page 728]
“The objection, that it is not possible to decide with certainty which Scriptural passages are clear, is to be answered: Clarity is always its own proof, or: Scripture passages themselves work the conviction that they are clear, by their clarity.  Clearly, with regard to the individual doctrines, the passages in which these teachings are revealed (sedes doctrinae) are not the places in which they are not revealed. Those who want to explain clear Scripture passages through other passages of Scripture, mock the Scriptures and throw the whole Scripture into an “uncertain pile”. (Luther.)
“Church history teaches that the false teachers of all times interpreted clear passages of Scripture as obscure, pointing to their heads, and in order to deceive others and themselves, invoked the “analogy of faith.”
“The fact that Scripture is interpreted only by Scripture and does not correspond to one’s own thoughts is a grace that continually is sought of God, and is given to the broken hearts which renounce all their own wisdom in divine things and submit their sense of Scripture in humble faith”. (52, 481 f.)
And finally, Pieper always came back to the last, all-important question, the reason of certainty, the certainty of truth. Then he published his excellent inaugural speech of 1899: “How Does a Teacher of the Church Obtain the True Assurance of Christian Doctrine?” (46, 161); German tite) and at other times raises the question: “Why Do We Believe the Scriptures?” or: “How does the Holy Scripture Become a Divine Authority?” (68, 161; German title). And his answer to this all-surpassing certainty question is this:
“By the divine authority of the Holy Scripture we understand the quality or nature of Scripture, according to which it bids faith and obedience to everything it says, as to God himself.
Whoever attacks the authority of Scripture commits a crime against the Divine majesty, a crimen laesae majestatis divinae, because he actually repudiates and stands above God. As Scripture proof of this belongs all Scripture passages in which the Word of Scripture and the Word of God are identified ....
And this divine authority of Scripture is an absolute. It is an absolute in the sense that it belongs to Scripture for its own sake, because it is God’s Word through inspiration. Not because the authority is based on the testimony given by individuals or even the whole Church to Scripture, which the ancient Lutheran theologians express briefly rightly so: The Scripture is  αύτόπιστος [autopistos, credible in itself], that is, it is entitled to faith and obedience for its own sake, because it is θεόπνευστος, given by God. [2 Tim. 3:16 = “God-breathed” or “God-inspired”] [Page 729]
The divine authority of Scripture is denied by Rome by asserting that Scripture has divine authority only through the witness of the Church. The fact that the Scripture accords for its own sake with faith and obedience, is denied  moreover by the Enthusiasts of all times, which concede the Scripture as divine authority only insofar as the Scripture is voiced with the alleged immediate spiritual revelation.  The same critical position on Scripture is finally adopted by all the later theologians, who deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, who want to decide about truth and error in Scripture according to their “faith-consciousness,” “experience,”  etc. They therefore speak also with the Enthusiasts of “bondage to letters,” a “paper pope” etc. if they are expected to recognize the Holy Scriptures as inviolable [unverbrüchliche; unbreakable, John 10:35] divine authority. [orancient believing text-worshipers”; ref. McLaughlin's essay]
Now, however, the question arises as to how the divinity of Scripture is recognized by us human beings or, what is the same, how Scripture becomes divine authority for us humans. In answering this question, we have to choose between Christian certainty (certainty of faith, fides divina) and human conviction (natural certainty, scientific certainty, fides humana).  That this distinction is both scripturally necessary, and practically very important, will result from the following account.” (68, 161 ff.)
So we could continue and portray Dr. Pieper’s doctrine of Holy Scripture in all its parts and with its own words prove it correct.     L. Fuerbringer.

= = = = = = = =  continued in Part 6  = = = = = = = =

This is the end of Fuerbringer's first portion dealing with “sola Scriptura”.  As I finished translating this, I wrote down the following question that I would have posed to Ludwig:
“Did you not teach sola Scriptura to your son, Alfred O. Fuerbringer, who also became President of Concordia Seminary?”
      But before I continue with the next portion in this series, I want to apply Pieper's major point about the “crime against the Divine majesty”. There is legal term today similar to the Latin term used by Pieper: “Lèse-majesté” – a crime “against the dignity of a reigning sovereign”, sometimes referred to as “Treason”.  Pieper uses this strong term for those who deny the full divinity to Holy Scripture.    As I was translating Pieper's sentence and pondering the loss of my Christian faith 45+ years ago, one LC-MS theologian's name in particular came to my mind. Pieper's criminal charge can be applied properly to one of the most recognized names in Lutheran theology of the last 75 years and one of the most destructive teachers in Christendom of the 20th Century.  Who would that be? Find out in the next post. —  Then in the following Part 6, Fuerbringer begins his next portion dealing with great teaching that Pieper is to be known for – sola gratia.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

4-Briggs Heresy, then Concordia's Heresy

[2018-07-02: additional reference noted in red below]
      This concludes from Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series concerning Dr. Franz Pieper's review and comments on the Great American Heresy Trial, the Briggs Heresy Trial of 1893
      As I translated Pieper's comments on the 1893 Presbyterian Trial, I could not help but wonder about the similarities, and differences, with the events that 80 years later led to the so-called “Exodus from Concordia” or the 1974 “Walkout” of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis.  Synod President J.A.O. Preus ordered a Fact Finding Committee to investigate doctrinal aberrations.  According to reports, (p. 60) the October 1, 1970, issue of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat characterized the inquiry as a heresy trial.  One can get a fair overview of this event by reading the 1977 account of it by the Concordia Seminary Board of Control =====>> HERE <<.  The following collage of images taken from this book mimics the same kind of mental disorder that our defrocked Presbyterian Dr. Briggs suffered from (more images here):

These images would just be like so many other images of the 1960s and 1970s except these occurred at the same Concordia Seminary that was founded by C.F.W. Walther, where Prof. Franz Pieper taught for nearly 53 years, where Luther's Reformation was renewed again... in America.  Every history that I have read of the theological situation surrounding the above event in some way or another did not fully address the multiplicity and magnitude of heresies involved because almost all historians were to a certain degree fooled by the deceptiveness of the perpetrators, whether it be Herman Otten, or E. Clifford Nelson, or Kurt Marquart, or David P. Scaer, or even... Robert Preus (1992 Logia vol. 1, # 1, p. 67-71 [TW]) and  J. A. O. Preus. [2018-07-02: see also Tom Baker's Watershed at the Rivergate].
And even the “final word” of Paul A. Zimmerman, president of the Fact Finding Committee, is weak at times as he said (A Seminary in Crisis, p. 48):
“…while a significant number of faculty members gave no evidence of any departure from the Synod’s doctrinal position, these same professors did not object to others using the new hermeneutic and using the historical-critical method. They believed that some degree of latitude should be allowed in such matters.”
One must ask how Zimmerman could make the former assertion while admitting the latter statement.
I wonder that Walther Cronkite gave the best synopsis on the CBS Evening News (Exodusp. 128) since he was “more interested in the fact that Lutheran seminarians would be studying at a Jesuit [Roman Catholic] seminary”.  As Mr. Cronkite would say:

      No, no, we have not yet heard Dr. Franz Pieper's final word of Christian judgment on those who either deny or, what amounts to the same, question the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.  Especially this applies to theologians who do not wholeheartedly defend all aspects of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture. We will come to Pieper's “Final Word” as we return again to Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer's series “Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian”, Part 5.  Later I will single out one theologian among the 40+ theologians removed from Concordia Seminary who is most deserving of Pieper's sarcastic epitaph of “8th Wonder of the World”.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

3-Briggs Trial: contradictory thoughts; 'Science!'; not majority, but God's Word; ...then the Lutherans

      This continues from Part 2 (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 dispels any notion that he can only be “irenic” when discussing theological matters.  Unbelief in any form has no place in Christian theology. It is never “courageous”, never “loyal” to deny the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.  This denial never deserves our empathy, our “understanding”, our “kindness”, our “fairness”... as Christians.  All “Church History” by those who deny the Inspiration of Holy Scripture is suspect at best, deceptive at worst.  This is certainly not the case with Dr. Franz Pieper:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

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 3 conclusion from Part 2]

This is also the case with Briggs. He for example literally said in front of the assembly: “The doctrine of progressive sanctification after death harmonizes the Christian faith with the Christian ethic and both with the ethics of humanity and the ethics of God. It empowers us to comprehend, the whole human race, the whole history of our race from its first creation for the last day, and all acts of God in creation and preservation, under a grand concept — the divine sanctification of man.”
Further, Dr. Briggs maintains in one breath, that the Holy Scriptures are fallible, as well as that they are the infallible guide of faith and life. In his head the most contradictory thoughts seem to have space next to each other, if only the label “science” can be affixed to them. [= schizophrenia]
“Dr. Briggs” — says a writer in the Presbyterian“is no Luther or a reformer. What he stands for does not have enough pulling power to secure for him a large following. He represents the negation, not the position.” The position is indeed the weak side of modern scientific theology. Their representatives agree only in one point, namely that the theology of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries should cease to apply. But as soon as they are supposed to explain what is to replace the theology so dismissed, they diverge in all directions of the wind. The fact that they still expect other people to follow them as leaders reveals their great “modesty.”
How does it stand now in the fellowship of Presbyterians? There is no reason to doubt that the vote in the General Assembly indicates the state of the fellowship. One can therefore assume that more than three-quarters of the congregations still profess the Holy Scripture as the Word of God. It is significantly better in this respect among the Presbyterians than among the other American sects. We knew that Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians had gone sharply backwards in recent decades, with a dense moral teaching taking the place of Christian doctrine in more and more circles.
But we were appalled by the perception that in all the statements made from the journals of the sects mentioned, the General Assembly of the Presbyterians was censured, and the condemnation of Dr. Briggs was referred to as an assassination of the “personal freedom”, on the “freedom of science” etc..
So much have these people, who used to despise all theological scholarship in some incomprehensible ways, by the [page 166] cry of “science” been blinded. It is better in this regard, as I said, with the Presbyterians, as the vote in the Assembly has shown and as is evident from many discussions of pastors and church members. The Presbyterians have a number of learned theologians who have retained the inspiration of the Scriptures and, in particular, have seen through the deception of “higher criticism”.
Pastor Dr. Lampe's “Argument” against Dr. Briggs is a masterpiece of polemics against the deniers of inspiration and the scientific stubbornness of the “higher critics.” 1) Even lay delegates in the Assembly excelled on the authority of Scripture. One delegate said for example: “Mr. President! The testimony of the evangelists, indeed, the testimony of Christ Himself in relation to this subject, is simply overwhelming. A word from the Savior brings the matter to an end for me forever.” —
But of course the 116 votes against the condemnation of the Dr. Briggs are a bad thing, even if most of them were delivered by people who personally do not share Briggs's point of view. There is a minority that wants to allow a false teacher of the grossest kind.
But even worse is that even those who are in favor of the condemnation of Dr. Briggs voted now to prevent an outer break with the minority for quite the wrong reasons. A writer in the Presbyterian says for example: “Presbyterian pastors have vowed to be subject to their brethren in the Lord. They are Americans and have learned to submit to the will of the majority.” These are matters of doctrine, and it is not the majority that decides, but one has to demand submission to God's Word. F. P.
1) Presbytery of New York. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America against the Rev. Charles A. Briggs, D. D.  Argument of the Rev. Joseph J. Lampe, D. D., a member of the Prosecuting Committee. (or here) [WorldCat 1, 2, 3]; other refs. here and here.] 
= = = = = = = =   End of Essay   = = = = = = = = =
First the Presbyterians, 
      Of course the story of the struggle among the American Presbyterians was not over with this judgment of heresy against Briggs.  The liberal “minority” that wanted to allow the continuation of this false teacher eventually gained the upper hand.  Pieper was correct in warning that body against the minority.  The well-known story of the later Prof. J. Gresham Machen and now the “Orthodox Presbyterian Church” (OPC) was the outcome.  But to all of the “Old Presbyterians” of today who profess “inspiration” or to the conservative Reformed who follow Arthur W. Pink for their profession of “Inspiration”, I tell you it was the old (German) Missouri Synod Lutherans who were the original and purest defenders of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      I would repeat again Pieper's statement above about Dr. Briggs:
“In his head the most contradictory thoughts seem to have space next to each other, if only the label ‘science’ can be affixed to them.” 
As I translated this, I kept thinking of a mental health condition known today:
Schizophrenia (from Wikipedia):
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by… failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, … often have additional mental health problems such as anxiety, depressive, or substance-use disorders. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and last a long time.
Doctor Pieper has properly diagnosed the condition of our patient Charles Briggs as what we might call today “schizophrenia”... kind of like I had as I fell away from my Christian faith 45 years ago. One could add to this discussion the topic of “Science Fiction”, but this is a blog, not a book.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
then the Lutherans.
      The deceptive tactics that Dr. Briggs used to attempt to defend himself as “conservative” and “orthodox” foreshadowed the much greater deceptiveness of those who transformed Concordia Seminary–St. Louis from the bastion for truth into one of the greatest enemies of Lutheranism… and Christianity… ever.  And unfortunately, as with the Presbyterians, the “minority” or so-called “moderates” are actually winning out in today's LC-MS, even after the 1973-1974 debacle.  With Franz Pieper's clear assessment against liberal theology in the “Briggs Heresy Trial”, we “can see clearly now”… by the light of Holy Scripture… in the next part 4.