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Sunday, June 24, 2018

4-Briggs Heresy, then Concordia's Heresy

      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.
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.

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:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

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)

Sacramento
Register-Union

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; ...then the Lutherans.
Part 4: 80 years after: 1973-4 Concordia Seminary "Walkout": Concordia's Heresy Trial