Search This Blog

Loading...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Practical Importance– Right Division of Law-Gospel –by Franz Pieper (from Australia)


      About 1-1/2 years ago, I promised in a response to a commenter on the subject of "minimizing the Law", to publish another of Franz Pieper's great essays.  This essay was first presented to the Kansas District of the old (German) Missouri Synod in 1892 and has been carefully translated and published in installments by the ELCR of Australia to its members to strengthen their faith.  It carries on the Christian teaching that C.F.W. Walther brought to light again for the Church of Christ in his book The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. (or Law & Gospel as republished by CPH - on sale now for $30) 

  • Original German essay in Google Books can be found here.  
  • Full German text DOCX file here.

      Liberal theology often states that they are better at teaching practical matters or the "social dimension", and that Christian doctrine is too "transcendent" (e.g. by Reinhold Niebuhr).  But these are false charges, for true Christian teaching is entirely practical and "down to earth".  Pieper demonstrates this beautifully in this essay.

I dedicate this blog post to the original commenter who said:
Re Natural Law: if one minimizes the Law, also by denying natural law, one minimizes the Gospel.
But Franz Pieper shows the perfect use of the Law in all its uses, but especially as it is "rightly divided" (or properly distinguished) from the Gospel.  And my commenter may be a bit surprised (as even I was) that Pieper demonstrates the full use of the Law.  Here one learns how our Saviour could say:
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matt. 11:30
I have determined to not allow anyone to teach me about the Law unless they properly distinguish it from the Gospel.  May the people of America, as well as the dear people of Australia, learn from this master theologian, Franz Pieper.  May the lay people and pastors alike now sit at the feet of the President (for over 40 years) of Concordia Seminary–St. Louis — Franz Pieper — and learn pure Christian teaching.  For your "mental health" during the Advent season leading up to Christmas, I now present the practical benefits of Luther's and Walther's teaching.

      This file is largely untouched from that provided to me by the Australian pastor.  He has diligently researched the sources – many of the references to Luther's writings are from the St. Louis Edition... sorry "Weimar Ausgabe" (WA) experts, you will have to use a cross-reference (like my Vogel XRef here) to find these in your Weimar edition. — And the dear pastor has added many instructive footnotes which Google Docs, in the process of importing, conveniently hyperlinked and moved to the end of the document.   If the reader prefers, he may download the original "DOC" file here.  All inline comments by "Ed." or "BLW" are by the Australian pastor.
Highlighting is mine; additional hyperlinks added to some source references.


(Further comments may be added at a later time)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Walther's Textbook, v.3b (Baier-Walther Compendium)

      This continues the series (see Part 1 for Table of Contents) publishing the digital text of "Walther's textbook", the Baier-Walther Compendium Theologiae Positivae.  As always, the printed versions of "Walther's Textbook" are available from Emmanuel Press.
      Part IIIb (pages 337-787) is too large to place on a single blog post and so I am only publishing the chapters on "Law and Gospel",  and the sacraments, omitting those on "Church", "Ministry", civil government, domestic society and marriage.  See "Table of Contents" on previous blog post for further reference.

   Download complete searchable PDF of Volume IIIb ==>> here <<== (14 MB)
   Download complete DOCX file of Volume IIIb ======>> here <<=== (1 MB)

"Walther's Textbook", Volume IIIb 
(only pgs 337-613; 614-787 omitted here)


There is a lot of theology in "Walther's Textbooks".  Because there are so many languages used in it, I am glad that Franz Pieper wrote his Christliche Dogmatik mostly in German, and that these could then be conveniently translated into my language of English, into his Christian Dogmatics.  But now that Walther's Textbook is much more convenient to access, I plan to make use of it in areas of interest, such as the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, to see how Walther used the quotes of not only Martin Luther, but also from "Lutheran Orthodoxy" and the Lutheran Confessions.  Now that we have the powerful Google Translate (and others), this work from "Old Missouri" is now usable.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Walther's Textbook, v.3a (Baier-Walther Compendium)

      This continues the series (see Part 1 for Table of Contents) publishing the digital text of "Walther's textbook", the Baier-Walther Compendium Theologiae Positivae.  As always, the printed versions of "Walther's Textbook" are available from Emmanuel Press.  (My works are not taken from their republished books but rather from original books.)
      Part IIIa (pages 1-336) is too large to place on a single blog post – Google Docs could not load this large of a text file.  So I am placing only Chapter V because it contains the all important chapter "De Justificatione" and Walther included quite a selection of quotes from Luther and other "orthodox Lutheran theologians".  It includes the response by Wittenberg and Württemberg theologians to Samuel Huber's error on pages 286-287; Walther explains their weakness here.  I would invite the reader to do a text search in a browser now for the text "justificatione" and "Rechtfertigung" (German for justification) and see how often these terms are used.  Then copy and paste the passages into Google Translate to get the English meaning.
      To aid the reader in navigating the large 2-part Volume III, here is the "Table of Contents" that only appears on the last page of Part IIIb:
           - - - - - - - - Table of Contents, Vol. III - - - - - - - -
                                                       pag.
         nostrae primo principio                          3
         ac fundamento                                   18
    Sectio I. De persona Christi                         20
    Sectio III. De officio Christi                      100
Cap. III. De fide in Christum                            134
Cap. IV. De regeneratione et conversione                 177
Cap. V. De justificatione                                240
Cap. VI. De renovatione et bonis operibus                299
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Volume IIIb
Cap. VII. De verbo legis et evangelii                    337
Cap. VIII. De sacramentis in genere                      400
Cap. IX. De sacramentis veteris testamenti               421
Cap. X. De baptismo                                      434
Cap. XI. De sacra coena                                  489
Cap. XII. De praedestinatione et reprobatione            531
Cap. XIII. De ecclesia                                   614
Cap. XIV. De ministerio ecclesiastico                    683
Cap. XV. De magistratu politico                          724
conjugali, paterna atque herili               745
           - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
   Download complete searchable PDF of Volume IIIa ==>> here <<== (11 MB)
   Download complete DOCX file of Volume IIIa ======>> here <<=== (1 MB)

"Walther's Textbook", Volume IIIa (only pgs 240-336)


The last Volume IIIb, pages 337-788 will be published later.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walther's Textbook, v.2 (Baier-Walther Compendium)

(updated Nov. 24 to add Vol. II  Table of Contents)
      This continues the series (see Part 1 for Table of Contents) publishing the digital text of "Walther's textbook", the Baier-Walther Compendium Theologiae Positivae.  As always, the printed versions of "Walther's Textbook" are available from Emmanuel Press.  (My works are not taken from their republished books but rather from original books.)
     Below is a Table of Contents ("Conspectus") that is also placed just after the title page for quick reference to the major sections.  This can also be found at the last page.
           - - - - - - - -  Table of Contents, Vol. II  - - - - - - - -
             CONSPECTUS VOLUMINIS SECUNDI.
                     PARS PRIMA.
                                                          pag.
Cap. I. De Deo..............................................3
                      de mysterio SS. Trinitatis...........45
Cap. II. De creatione......................................76
Cap. III. De angelis......................................103
Cap. V. De providentia Dei................................160
Cap. VI. De beatitudine aeterna...........................181
Cap. VII. De damnatione aeterna...........................203
Cap. VIII. De morte temporali.............................223
Cap. IX. De resurrectione mortuorum.......................241
                       PARS SECUNDA.
Cap. I. De peccato in genere..............................267
Cap. II. De peccato originis..............................280
Cap. III. De peccatis actualibus..........................308
           ubi etiam de tentatione agitur.................317

      Download searchable PDF of Volume II ==>> here <<== (11 MB)
      Download DOCX file of Volume II ======>> here <<=== (1 MB)

"Walther's Textbook", Volume II (330 pages)

      Please note that I will be correcting Volume I (see here) because of anomalies I discovered recently in publishing text files in a blog post.  I will provide a notice when the update is finished.
      The last Volume III is much larger and so will be published in 2 separate blog posts: IIIa and IIIb.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Walther's Textbook, Index v.4 (Baier-Walther Compendium)

      This continues the series (see Part 1 for Table of Contents) publishing the digital text of "Walther's textbook", the Baier-Walther Compendium Theologiae Positivae.  As always, the printed versions of "Walther's Textbook" are available from Emmanuel Press.  (My works are not taken from their republished book but rather from an original copy.)
      I am breaking the sequence to publish the Index volume, sometimes referred to as Volume IV.  This volume is not available on Google Books and is somewhat obscure in WorldCat's database. This Index was published 20 years after the first 3 volumes, and 12 years after Walther's passing, by Theodore Buenger.  It shows that "Walther's Textbook" was still revered in its capacity for teaching at Concordia Seminary.  Franz Pieper's subsequent Christian Dogmatics textbooks were still about 20 years away.
Download the complete scanned Index "Volume IV" ==>> here <<== (searchable PDF, 4MB)

What follows is the OCR'd text, except the Scripture references index – pages 106-112.  Use the download above for the entire book to view these pages.


This Index volume IV is a useful resource for extended research in theological subjects.  It is good for additional information beyond (and correction to) the online Christian Cyclopedia.  Here is a sampling of subjects I picked out to peak the reader's interest to make this Index a continuing resource:

Certitudo justificationis ... ,,monstrum incertitudinis superat omnia monstra“ in papatu 291.
Copernicus
Epicurus
Exorcismus
Huber, Sam. (see Dr. Jack Kilcrease blog on Huber's error here)
Hunnius, Aegidius (some claim he was against Universal Justification)
Intuitu, intuitu fidei III 554 de intuitu fidei in doctrina electionis vid. praedestinatio (fides)
Justificatio,
Justificatio objective considerata
Keplerus, Joh. († 1630), II, 86.
Koranus
Lutherus, Martinus... de justificatione objective considerata III 134. 271.
Militia spiritualis III, 614.
Muhammed
Muhammedani
Pontifex Romanus (Roman Popes)
Praedestinatio (Predestination, Election)
Sacerdotes
Savonarola
Schleiermacher
Sponsores baptismales III, 487 s.

Another point of interest is in the appendix – Walther's theological "Axioms" starting at page 113.  Axiom # 28 says (translated from the Latin):
28. Articles of faith in themselves are not contrary to reason, but only above reason.
Above reason.  Oh, if only the inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, or the cosmologist Carl Sagan († 1996), or the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, or the "Mythbuster" Adam Savage would only see that their reason cannot comprehend the things of God... and so would get smart, and not be dumb or stupid, and open their eyes to God's Word!

All this begs the question: when will I complete the digital text of the remaining Volume II and Volume III?  Soon...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Paul Schulz - unsung hero during LC-MS fall

Who was Pastor Paul Schulz?  He was a pastor in Springfield, Illinois at Trinity Church.  He was for a time chairman of the Board of Control of Concordia Theological Seminary before it moved to Fort Wayne, IN (ref. Prairie School of the Prophets, Heintzen, pg 167).  But most importantly he stands out today as a watchman on the walls of Zion, as he pleaded with the LC-MS in June 1938 to not give up its Lutheran teaching, its faithfulness to God's Word.  I ran across the publishing of his essay in the first issue of 1939 in the Concordia Theological Monthly, (vol. 10) pages 25-37.  Because his essay is so striking in its forthright manner, in its calling on the work of Walther (and Pieper), I want to reprint the digital text for all to benefit from this truly Christian man as he stood on the walls so that his dear "Missouri Synod" would not fall away...  but alas, today's (English) LC-MS would not.  But lest we become disheartened, we can still benefit from the words of Pastor Schulz.

Pastor Schulz refers to Walther's book about "The Evangelical Lutheran Church, the True Visible Church of God on Earth".  This subject matter of Walther has been reviewed in recent years by Pastor Clint Poppe for the "Nebraska Lutherans for Confessional Study", a worthy study!  So too is this essay during that critical time when the old (German) Missouri Synod was slowly dissolving into today's new (English) LC-MS.  How was it dissolving?  Let Pastor Paul Schulz's warnings show the way.
Hyperlinks added for reference; highlighting is mine.


It was the unionism that was running rampant within the ranks of the teachers in the LC-MS, and Pastor Schulz saw this clearly and warned sharply against it.  He also showed the way to stay on (or to return to) God's way, by His Word.  —  Pastor Schulz also highlights the importance of a pure Doctrine of Justification in this essay (see pages 33-34).
A sad quote for me is this:
What, then, should be our attitude towards heterodox churches? We cannot fellowship with them. That would be fellowshiping with error and would destroy us as the true visible Church. But we can and should testify to the truth to them as long as they will hear us.   This we have consistently done, and the gratifying fact that some of the other Lutheran churches today occupy a more satisfactory confessional position than formerly is due, as they admit, largely to our testimony.
This statement explains the sad position of almost all of external Lutheranism, indeed also all Christianity today, because the pure testimony of the old (German) Missouri Synod has gone silent.  May the words of Pastor Paul Schulz, one of the faithful "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1), be remembered today in the Lutheran Church, here and now.  Are you listening Concordia Theological Seminary-Fort Wayne?

Moving Frontiers (away from Gospel); Luth. Trivia


In this series of blog posts relating to "Church History", I again pulled out the book I read many years ago when I was searching for the heart of the "Missouri Synod".  It was edited by Carl S. Meyer, and this book is still sold by Concordia Publishing House (see current book cover right), sealing it as a book still purporting to tell today's world about the history of the "Missouri Synod".  But it is a book in which I long ago discovered that most of the writers, including editor Carl S. Meyer, distorted and falsified the real (spiritual) Church history.  To be sure, the book includes some source documents, but then proceeds in many ways to judge the old (German) Missouri Synod.  One example is William J. Danker's statement (on page 294) that Missouri's "mission to the heathen" was "retarded", as if today's LC-MS and its confused Gospel is a better "mission to the heathen".  To go into all the details of where the authors failed and falsified would take too long.  I had to laugh when one of the reviewers on Amazon (V. Johnson) said: "People who enjoy Lutheran Trivia would be interested in reading this book".  "Lutheran Trivia" indeed!... but not so much spiritual history.  But when I pulled this book off the shelf today, my hand-written notes from more than 15 years ago struck me... and so I offer to the reader the (original) cover of my copy of this book:
Moving Frontiers
edited by Carl S. Meyer


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seckendorf As Church Historian, Spitz thesis (Pt 2)

(modified on 11/10/2014)
In my recent post regarding Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf, I lamented that his major work of the History of Lutheranism has not yet been translated into English.  However further research has yielded some benefit from the work of the LC-MS historian Dr. Lewis W. Spitz.  He wrote some articles for the journal Concordia Theological Monthly, but prior to these he wrote as part of his dissertation at the University of Chicago a treatise on Seckendorf as Church Historian.  Because of its value and also its obscurity for public viewing, I want to publish the OCR'd text of this work:
     L.W. Spitz, "A Critical Evaluation of Veit Ludvig von Seckendorf as a Church Historian" ==>> PDF copy
What follows is the text of an extract from this dissertation:


The lay reader without knowledge of Latin or German will find reading this article difficult.  But it is worth the effort to just go to page 154 and read the highlighted section on "justification", especially where Seckendorf says:
Luther, however, excluded charity from the act of justification.
That statement is the Reformer and Reformation in a nutshell!  I would also invite the reader to do a search on the word "Luther " (with a space after) and read information relating directly to Martin Luther.  This may perhaps stimulate further reading.  I admit that part of my motive for posting this essay on Seckendorf is to perhaps promote interest with some Lutheran scholar in the world who will see Seckendorf's work as having value for Christians today... and translate it into English!  After all, Franz Pieper said this of Luther's polemical writings:
It's all entertaining!
What Christian does not need true entertainment?  —  Spitz wrote other articles on Seckendorf:
1) for the Journal of Religion, 1945 (see here for download copy)
2) for Concordia Theological Monthly in 1945 and 1949 (see here for downloads, alternate here)

Why is Seckendorf so important as a Church Historian?  Because Pastor Hermann Fick noted (here, page 164) how Seckendorf praised Martin Luther's response to the Diet of Regensburg especially for holding firm on
The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Correspondence of Walther – Roy Suelflow "disturbed"

Roy Suelflow
Continuing the theme of "Church History" from the last post, the letters of C.F.W. Walther speak with a pure judgment of the history and defenses of Lutheran theology.  I am hereby re-publishing a book of translated letters of Walther which was not published by Concordia Publishing.  It was self-published by Roy Suelflow in 1980 († 1981).  I want to reproduce the first paragraph of his preface:
“Recently I worked through the letters of C.F.W. Walther (1811-87) as a participant in a major production of Walther essays and papers to be published by Concordia Publishing House.  It disturbed me that many valuable and interesting letters had to be excluded from the projected volume of letters because of space limitations.  It is hoped that this small volume here offered to the public will rescue a few of these letters from continuing obscurity.”
I must agree with the dear Roy Suelflow!... it disturbs me as well.  The "major production" he spoke of produced the 1981 CPH book Selected Letters in the series Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther (see original dust jacket to the left).  CPH  is now offering this book in the "Print On Demand" format.  And I suspect Concordia Historical Institute has published more translated letters.  But I want to make Roy Suelflow's self-published book available to everyone... as I believe he would want it that way.  What follows is the OCR'd text of his book.  There have been other books that published English translations of Walther's letters here and here.  But for now, the reader will find in the following letters (and Suelflow's helpful Notes) a Christian heart as Walther pours it out, just like the letters of Martin Luther. (Highlighting is mine.)



What are some of the subjects of interest?  One area of theology Walther deals with is Pietism and pietistic tendencies (see letter of January 19, 1846 beginning on page 20).  It is surprising to read Walther's caution against those who would attempt to defend against it without a true knowledge of theology.  I learned much (still learning!) on the subject of Pietism and the persons involved.  Very good Church History here...

Another point of interest is Walther's letter of May 23, 1878 to Th. Ruhland in Germany (see page 79).  It is revealed that Walther's preference for his successor was George Stoeckhardt.  Walther's choice was blocked, and he says
"...the election was conducted and a younger man elected who had studied at our Concordia, and although he came from the Wisconsin Synod, had become a darling of the Missourians. His name is Franz Pieper."
Walther complained... but God had other plans for his dear "Missourians" for He sent them the "Second Walther" against Walther's wishes... God sent the 20th Century Luther to the Missouri Synod.

Seckendorf & Spitz– 2 church historians; Why no English translation? (Part 1)

Many, many books have been written on "Church History", but not many are very good at telling the true story of Church History.  I have quoted Franz Pieper previously on how one is to judge those who should write of Church History (or Historical Theology, and it bears repeating:
It is the function of historical theology not only to give a historically true picture of the events, but also to evaluate these established facts in the light of Scripture.  Historical theology is the divinely taught art of ascertaining from Scripture God's verdict on the historical events and conditions.  That is what makes church history a theological discipline.  When the church historian judges events according to his subjective view or any other extra-Biblical norm, church history is no longer a theological discipline. ...Where things are as they should be, the Church will, therefore, elect only such men as professors of church history as are thoroughly conversant with the Scripture doctrine in all its parts, well informed in dogmatics, in order that the instruction in church history will not confuse but aid Christian understanding.
Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf
from de.wikipedia.org
So when I come across sources of true Church History, the ones that build my Christian faith, I take note of it.  In the last blog post, Pieper mentioned a quote that Lutheran historian Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf († 1692) recorded in his monumental Commentarius historicus et apologeticus de Lutheranismo published in Latin.  But how could I get more true Lutheran history from this Seckendorf since he is apparently unavailable in English?  Maybe someone has translated his highly regarded work of Lutheran Church History into English?  So I researched this with the powerful tool of the Internet – WorldCat, Google Books, HathiTrust, Bayerishe Staats Bibliothek, etc., and current scholarship on Seckendorf such as by Solveig Strauch.  What I found was that there is no English translation of Seckendorf's work, but there are many who have probably borrowed from it. Lewis Spitz, in 1949 (CTM vol. 20, pgs 446-450), pleaded for the public to be aware of Seckendorf's work because it was becoming rare, probably from 2 World Wars, and it had never been translated into English.  I have wondered that since Lewis Spitz 
  • seemed to regard Seckendorf highly and
  • is so highly regarded as a Reformation scholar, 
...then why didn't he translate Seckendorf into English?  Sigh... another wonderful Christian writer who remains untranslated... like Antonius Margaritha.  I suppose us English speaking Lutherans will have to just content ourselves with the quotes used by others of Seckendorf, for example:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
So along the way of researching Seckendorf, I ran into a fellow researcher, a scholar, albeit from decades ago.  And he was associated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  He was Dr. Lewis William Spitz (1922–1999).

L. W. Spitz
Dr. Lewis William Spitz
LC-MS historian
So I decided to also (once again) read some of the writings of Dr.  Spitz, a highly regarded scholar and historian – of church history and other history.  I have read much from him in the past, and I take note of the following:
  • Lewis Spitz almost never gives credit to either Walther or Pieper for any of his proper judgments of Luther or Church History.  In this respect, Spitz reflects the influence of modern theology in that he can give copious quotes from Kant or Machiavelli or Goethe or Coleridge, etc.  And yet,
  • Lewis Spitz is refreshing in that he did not totally disregard the basics of Lutheran theology: sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia... he does not totally falsify Martin Luther – witness his article "Luther's Sola Scriptura" from CTM vol. 31 (1960) pgs 740-744.
In comparing the Church History taught by today's Prof. Cameron MacKenzie of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, and that of Dr. Lewis W. Spitz, there is a great difference.  And so I say that after one first becomes grounded in the true Christian doctrine from Pieper, Walther, and Luther, then some of the works of Prof. Dr. Lewis William Spitz can have some benefit.

For myself, I prefer to concentrate on the pure Church History as presented by Luther, Walther and Pieper (and Friedrich Bente).  I have set aside Lewis William Spitz because I want the pure historical theology of Luther and it is somewhat watered down by Dr. Spitz.  But it is not watered down by Walther or Pieper.

And would to God there were some true Christian scholar today who would distinguish himself and translate the entire work into English the works of Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf. so that we may read more of the history of Lutheranism and of individuals like John Frederick, the Magnanimous.

To further true Church History, I want to re-publish an obscure book of Walther's letters in my next blog post.

Friday, October 31, 2014

On Church Unity: John Frederick, the Magnanimous (and F. Pieper)

From Lehre und Wehre, vol. 75 (1929), pg 205:

On the proper basis for [church] union Elector John Frederick of Saxony expressed himself in a writing from May 28, 1541 concerning the Colloquium of  Regensburg (1541) [or Diet of Regensburg] in the following way:
John Frederick the Magnanimous
"As we live, so shall by bestowal of the Almighty the words not occur to compare the religions by us, our people, but that they want to put forth this, and thereby remain: whoever wants to compare, then compare himself with God and his Word and accept the same and its doctrine, as we and others of this party have done.  Whoever wants to evade this with patchwork can go their way." (Seckendorf, Comm. De Lutheranismo III, 361.)
The pious and truly Lutheran elector has in these words described for the Church of all times the proper basis for church union.  Church unity comes into being always only this way, that those who have deviated from the Word of God return to it and so "compare themselves with God and His Word".   — Franz Pieper
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

Franz Pieper carried the weight of the pure Gospel in meetings with other American Lutherans several times in the 20th century.  And sadly, these other American Lutherans would not come back to God's Word in the matters of Justification, Conversion, Inspiration and Inerrancy.  And I believe that Franz Pieper could see the weakness even within his own dear Missouri Synod on these matters and so he had to constantly delineate the proper basis for Church unity, as he did in the document that bears the stamp of his authorship:


If Pieper was blind to this weakness among his brethren, then why else would he have admonished them to study his theses in his "Last Words" to his Missouri Synod?  Just as John Frederick was resolute for the Gospel and God's Word at the Diet of Regensburg, so Franz Pieper was resolute.  And the Brief Statement of 1932 stands, in spite of today's LC-MS doubts and disputations.
-------------
Pieper references a source for his information on Elector John Frederick – Seckendorf's Commentary... .  I want to expand on this highly regarded work for the history of Lutheranism in my next blog post.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Character building"... for Christian youth? (4-H, state schools)

From the Missouri Synod journal Lehre und Wehre vol. 75 (1929), pages 150-151:

"Character building" can certainly be referred to as the goal of pedagogy.  But we must not lose sight here of the fact that there are two types of characters, natural and Christian characters.  The natural character building takes place on the basis of natural law knowledge, which can be found even after the Fall in every human heart.  The Apostle describes this in the words of Rom. 2:14: "When the Gentiles, which have not the law [i.e. the written Law the same as the Jews], do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves."  This character building, where it succeeds, has value in the field of civil life.  The Apology of the Augsburg Confession praises it with these words (Article IV (II): Of Justification., paragr. 24, Triglotta pg 127): "In this life and in a worldly nature, nothing is ever better than uprightness and virtue, and Aristotle says aright: Neither the evening star [page 151] nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness, and God also honors it with bodily rewards."  But Christian character building takes place only on the basis of faith in the Gospel of the crucified Christ.  The apostle Paul was before and after his conversion a "character".  He was a natural character when he collided with the Gospel, as a persecutor of the Gospel and the Christian church.  When he had become by conversion a Christian character, he describes himself thus: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", Gal. 2:20.  Therefore, we do not leave the character building of our children and our youth to the state schools and state educational institutions.Franz Pieper.

Although Pieper here refers specifically to "state schools", yet he could have also referred to other "character building" institutions outside the church.  These have flooded our modern world with youth organizations like
  • Boy Scouts
  • 4-H
  • sports (e.g. Soccer, etc. for "team building" skills)
  • youth social societies, organizations, activities, etc.
4-H
I was enrolled in the 4-H program as a youth.  In certain ways, I thought it was beneficial – learning about various tree species, raising rabbits, etc.  But even today, 4-H describes itself thus:
As the youth development program of the Cooperative Extension System of land-grant universities, 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, empowering six million young people throughout the United States...
Empowering for what?
THE 4-H PLEDGE (creed)
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

I recall being confused in my youth, in my Christian faith, by the creed and aims of 4-H.  And viewed now in my faith, I recognize why it was confusing – it preaches a civil righteousness, a "character building" outside the Christian faith.  One may admit that it is less secret than the secret societies such as the Masonic Freemasons, yet its means are largely the same (it has a "creed") and just as dangerous for the Christian faith because it is aimed at the youth.  Whether state based education (pedagogy) or "character building" youth organizations, the effect is the same – a detriment to a young Christian faith, a detriment to Christian character.  As the Apology to the Augsburg Confession goes on after giving the righteousness of reason some praise, "yet it ought not to be praised with reproach to Christ".  I confess that my experience with 4-H was a "reproach to Christ" for me.  So also my "state school education" where it attempted to build my character.