Search This Blog

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pieper's "nervous breakdown"

It was noted in Theodore Graebner's biography of Dr. Pieper that he had a "nervous breakdown" at two different times during his career that interrupted his teaching.  I recall during my intense study of Pieper in the 1990s that this was reported in the Missouri Synod press elsewhere with this term.

Today Wikipedia describes a "Nervous Breakdown" as "...a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety."  Who knows what that term meant back in Pieper's lifetime.  But I have difficulty believing that Pieper was depressed about anything.  If anything, he was surely distressed with the doctrinal errors of the "Lutheran" opponents of the Missouri Synod and those Lutheran bodies flirting with unionist tendencies towards erring bodies, especially those of the Norwegian Synod.  I recall how he looked for signs of life in the Norwegian Synod... to their return to the pure doctrines of Conversion and Election.  This concern along with a heavy work load of teaching and administration probably caused exhaustion... not a "nervous breakdown", an ambiguous term probably in vogue then.  Luther too was distressed in his lifetime... with some tendencies of his associate Philip Melancthon and others struggling with their Christian faith.  Being distressed or exhausted is a different thing than being "depressed" or nervous about anything.

Let the modern world cook up it's own terms for the human condition.  I'll stick with the human condition that the Bible describes.  Jesus was sorely distressed in the Garden of Gethsemane... was he having a "nervous breakdown"?  Peter denied his Lord three times under questioning... was he having a "nervous breakdown"? When the apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians with "much affliction", "anguish of heart" and "many tears" (2 Cor. 2:4), was he perhaps having a "nervous breakdown"?  But perhaps Herod had a "nervous breakdown" when the angel of the Lord smote him after his oration to his people (Acts 12:23).

No, Pieper believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness (see Genesis 15:6).  During his 2 times of exhaustion (not "nervous breakdown), he took some time off to get mental and physical rest from his extensive labors and came back refreshed and ready to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.