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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Church Practice &... Dance? (Pieper, "men of St. Louis")

In my last post, Franz Pieper spoke at length on the matter of Church Fellowship.  But he added a footnote.  Footnotes can have less importance than what is said in the body of the text.  But not for Franz Pieper.  For he spoke on the issue of Church Practice and Discipline within the old (German) Missouri Synod.  This footnote was added to his point that false doctrine was rectified in an orthodox fellowship.  Here is his footnote:
1) The same has its application with church practice.  So a notice has made the rounds recently in the journals hostily reflected towards us that a new congregation of the Missouri-Synod in Portland, Oregon had arranged an execursion with dance.  The journals note in part that Missouri doesn't permit such a thing.  But this incident with malicious remarks on the [Missouri] Synod is set to account.  A journal notices:  "Here your scourge swings, you men of St. Louis!"  The remark comes too late.  The investigation of this case has been ordered for a long time.  Thus our opponents are those which charge, against all divine and human laws, the sins of individuals to the fellowship.
So not only was false doctrine put down, but also church practice was disciplined in cases of un-Christian situations in the old (German) Missouri Synod.

What prudes and nerds these "men of St. Louis" were.  Who ever heard of disciplining for a church excursion with dancing?  Who ever heard of a church body that doesn't permit such a thing?!  Maybe the Amish or other "old order" church bodies?  It was the old (German) Missouri Synod... but certainly not today's LC-MS.  And it was C.F.W. Walther (and Luther) who warned against modern Dance.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pieper on Church Fellowship & Discipline

The doctrine and topic of Church Fellowship looms large in the area of Church History.  And the founders and teachers of the old (German) Missouri Synod were vehemently accused of isolationism and of not exhibiting an ecumenical spirit because they would not join with certain church bodies.  But these charges by various factions (there were many) are false, for it was Walther and Pieper who had the true spirit of ecumenism because they constantly looked for agreement based on God's Word, the doctrines of the Bible.  And they were disappointed when that agreement did not happen.  My original web page on Franz Pieper over 10 years ago exposed some of those false charges.
In 1890 (Lehre und Wehre, volume 36, pgs 261-263), Franz Pieper (F.P.) reported news on relations between the Missouri Synod and the General Council, a forerunner of the ELCA today.  In the report, Pieper made the following point:
We confess again that we Missourians judge a fellowship not by the doctrine which their official confession should be, but the doctrine which resounds in fact and without objection within a fellowship.  We think otherwise one would have to finally recognize each sect as orthodox (page 262) if they "officially" profess the confession of the orthodox church on the basis of expediency.  If the reporter does not want to hold the [General] Council responsible for the errors of it's individual members, although it allows it's leading men to teach “in an irresponsible manner and say what they want without rapping them on the fingers", then there is the sin about which the Scripture warns with these words: “...neither be partaker of other men's sins" (1 Timothy 5:22), not at all.  The "Missourian" standpoint is this: So unreasonable and unfair it would be if a fellowship which practices doctrinal discipline and eliminates emerging false doctrines of individual members towards God's Word, these errors wanted to put to account, so fair and right and demanded by God's Word it is, if a fellowship lets individual members, and now even their leading men, "say what they want".  We Missourians hold only a church fellowship as orthodox when the true doctrine is heard from all pulpits and lecterns and in all it's public writings, but every false doctrine rejecting the ways of God is put down as soon as it appears.  By that standard we judge others, and we also want others to judge us according to this scale.  We Missourians want to to be judged according to the public doctrine from each of our pastors, whether in San Francisco or New York, St. Paul or New Orleans, or in our magazines, whether they official or unofficial.  If one proved to us that just one pastor preached false doctrine or just one magazine stands in the service of false doctrine, and we did not put down this false doctrine, we would have stopped being an orthodox synod and we would have become a unionistic fellowship.  In short, the characteristic of an orthodox fellowship is that it is the same through out, that only true doctrine has applicability not only officially, but actually is in vogue. This is the basis of our whole church practice.
It was with this clear view of Scriptural fellowship that Franz Pieper, before he died, warned his "dear Missouri Synod" of the mixed teaching of the "opponents", the old Ohio and Iowa synods, forerunners of the ALC and today's ELCA:
I fear that some of our adversaries and former opponents themselves confess these Theses (Brief Statement 1932) and yet with the heterodox they promote a mixed belief.
There is a tradition at one of Indiana's universities that at home football games a short patriotic reading is made ending with the stirring words of the following phrase:
I Am An American!
I will amend this stirring phrase to have a spiritual basis:
I Am A "Missourian"!
... that is the Missouri Synod from above, not today's (English) LC-MS but the old (German) Missouri Synod.  I am in inward fellowship with all true Christians and rejoice when I read or hear of a confession of Christian faith.  I grieve whenever I read or hear of Christians suffering for their faith such as in Jewish "Israel" or in Egypt or other the Muslim lands of the Mid-East or Africa, or in the Far East such as China where Christianity is virtually outlawed.  And sadly, I cannot partake of the errors of virtually all of the external church bodies of today, including all who would call themselves "Lutheran".
There was a footnote in Pieper's report... it had to do with "Dance".  See my next post.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walther to Germany: Let them build statues of Luther...

In correspondence with others, I made the following comment in 1996:
To go to Luther and ignore Walther when you are in the Missouri Synod thereby shows that one is not of the teaching of Walther which was none other than Martin Luther’s.  Until today’s LC-MS sees the teaching of Walther (i.e. Christian doctrine, especially objective justification), I am not in fellowship with them.   As Walther said somewhere about Germany: “Let them build statues of Luther, we will be content with holding to his doctrine”.  So I say this about today’s LC-MS: let them build statues or whatever, if they ignore the heart of Walther, they will lose it all!  I want Walther to speak, whether his own words, or those of Franz Pieper or George Stoeckhardt.
And so I stand with the old (German) Missouri Synod and hold to Luther's Doctrine, the teaching of the Scriptures, for my spiritual life.

Now the LC-MS makes a video of Walther.  So I say "Let them make movies of Walther, I will be content with holding to his doctrine."

The downfall of LC-MS on Justification (Abiding Word, 1947)

I see that CPH still offers the book series published in 1946, 1947, and 1960 called The Abiding Word, a 3-volume set.  It was published to celebrate the centennial year of the founding of the Missouri Synod.  It was intended to send a message to the world that the LC-MS had not changed from the orthodoxy (or pure teaching) of it's founding fathers... of the Missouri Synod.  However there is an article among the many essays one on The Doctrine of Justification by Professor William Arndt (Volume 2, pages 235-257).  In this article Arndt falls into a trap... a trap that can confuse a troubled conscience that wants to know if God is gracious. Here are 2 quotes from this article:
Page 249:
VIII.  This doctrine declares that in the minute that we take this righteousness God pronounces us justified, free from sin, acquitted (subjective justification).
... When the sinner says, Jesus is my Savior, and puts his trust in Him, then God declares that his sins are forgiven and that he is righteous.  One or the other of you [?] will probably interpose the remark that the sinners already were forgiven.  That is perfectly true.  But the Bible tells us in addition that when faith springs up in the heart, then one is justified. ... You observe that here Paul says (Gal 2:16) justification takes place when we come to be believers.”
Page 256:
“Moreover, we say that whoever is justified is thereby put into a state of righteousness which continues as long as he is a believer. ...In saying this we must not forget the sad fact that justification can be lost.  When the sinner gives way to unbelief, when he ceases to be connected with his Savior and to put his trust in Him, then the sentence of acquittal falls too, and he reverts to the ranks of those who are subject to the wrath of God. ... But, God be praised! when the sinner has through unbelief lost the state of justification, he can through the grace of God obtain it anew if he repents and again seizes the helping hand of Christ.”
Professor Arndt attempted to teach Objective Justification in preceding portions of his essay.  But compare the above highlighted statements to how C.F.W. Walther taught this so that a troubled conscience would never doubt God's grace:
Accordingly, none of them can say: "How can the minister know the condition of my heart?  What is absolution to profit me when I am impenitent?"  Answer:  "Indeed, in that case it is of no benefit, but it is of benefit when it is believed.  However, this is certain that you have been absolved. (The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, page 376.)
It is said that man must also do something in justification, namely believe.  Under such circumstances justification is not attributed solely to God.  But that means nothing else than robbing God of part of His honor and ascribing it to man.  Then it would not be God alone who saves us, but we would work together.  Only those who cannot distinguish sharply between condition and means can conceive such a thought. ... We are not reconciled to God when we believe, but we are already redeemed, are already reconciled to God, so that we believe.  This is also true regarding justification.  (Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Convention Essays, page 105)
And now compare God's own Word:
2 Timothy 2:13If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.  
Thank God!... He "abideth faithful" and "he cannot deny himself"!  If this Bible verse is not true, I’m going to hell.  If God isn’t reconciled for all people, for all their sins, for all time, then I’m going to hell.

No, today's LC-MS is not the Missouri Synod from above, the Missouri Synod that hammered home the grace of God in Christ.  No, the centennial series of books called The Abiding Word rather showed that one must go past them, back... back, Back To Luther and the old (German) Missouri Synod.

What Is Christianity? And Other Essays (by Pieper)

I have stated before that the most complete books the world has ever seen on pure Christian doctrine are the 4-volume set of Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics. But there is another book by Pieper that is still available and needs to be mentioned.  It is the book What Is Christianity? And Other Essays which is English translations by J.T. Mueller of the following essays delivered by Pieper during his lifetime:
  1. What Is Christianity? (1902, Synod)
  2. The Christian World View. (1923, Synod)
  3. The Reconciliation of Man With God. (1916, Southern Illinois District)
  4. The Laymen's Movement in the Light of God's Word. (1913, Southern Ill. District)
  5. The Holy Bible. (1921, Southern. Illinois District)
  6. The Open Heaven. (1929, Synod)
All these titles will arouse the interest of Christians... what does Pieper have to say on these subjects?  I will now highlight just the first essay What Is Christianity?  It was delivered as a response to the essay of the same name by the great Adolph von Harnack of Germany about the year 1900.  To give a quick answer to the question of the title, I'm will provide the first few paragraphs of Pieper's essay:
(Paper read at the Tenth Delegate Synod, 1902.)
This question is one which during the past two years has been discussed practically throughout the Christian Church.  Inquiries have been conducted as to what Christianity really is and what distinguishes it from all other religions.  These investigations were occasioned by lectures which Professor Harnack of Berlin delivered on this subject. What Harnack said regarding this matter and soon put into print certainly does not merit the wide-spread attention which his statements aroused. The Berlin professor merely repeated certain claims which have long been known.  Briefly stated, his doctrine is this: Christ is not God, but a man of unique wisdom and virtue. Hence He did not fulfil the divine Law in man's stead, nor did He bear the penalty of man's transgressions of the Law.  Consequently Christianity is not faith in Christ. but consists in man's own ethical conduct, which is prompted and actuated by Christ's unique personality.  This doctrine is nothing new.  Unitarians and rationalists, in fact. all anti-Trinitarians and freethinkers, have taught this error at all times.  Nevertheless it cannot be denied that Harnack's lectures have given rise to a practically world-wide discussion of the nature of Christianity.
And the result?  Certainly no agreement among those who call themselves Christians. We must actually face the situation that those who style themselves Christians do not agree as to what Christianity is.
This indeed is most amazing.  Christianity has been in existence for nearly two thousand years, - indeed, for almost six thousand years, if we take into account the first Messianic promise.  Can it be true, then, that Christians still disagree as to what Christianity really is?  Is the nature of Christianity still a debatable question among its adherents?
To this we reply: Christians indeed fully agree as to the nature of Christianity.  All those who are really members of the Christian Church truly believe that through faith in Christ, the Savior of sinners, they have forgiveness of sins and salvation, not through their own merits, or works.  Because of this faith, and solely because of it, they are members of the Christian Church.  Whoever has this faith belongs to the Christian Church; whoever has not this faith does not belong to the Christian Church.  Even those who belong to the Christian Church under the Papacy and within the sectarian bodies believe that they have forgiveness of sins through Christ and not through their own works or their moral conduct.  This is the one faith which St. Paul ascribes to the Christian Church when he writes: "One Lord, one faith," Eph. 4, 5. 
Prof. Harnack was a "German Lutheran theologian"considered important enough to be included in the "Christian Classics Ethereal Library" of Calvin College... but not Franz Pieper or C.F.W. Walther.  That is too bad because the author they chose to publish did not know the answer to this basic question of "What Is Christianity?" and so readers will have to go elsewhere.  This blog post quote from Franz Pieper, a contemporary of Adolph von Harnack, gives the true answer to this important question.  We see how today's modern world honors "The 20th Century Luther".

And the reader will note that Pieper does not say that one has to be a Lutheran to be a Christian.  He even includes anyone under the Papacy or "sectarian" bodies (such as Calvin College) who truly believe that through faith in Christ they have forgiveness of sins and salvation, not through their own merits or works.

In another section of this essay, Pieper hammers home the fallacy of Harnack and the modern world (page 16):
    Professor Harnack, it is true, believes that he can calm a troubled conscience without Christ's blood.  He advises the sinner to regard God as his Father in the same way that Christ regarded Him as His Father.  According to Harnack every single person should lift up his head with boldness and confidence and look upon God as his Father irrespective of Christ's person and work as set forth in the Gospel, in other words, without faith in Christ Crucified.  But let Professor Harnack prate of such assurance and recommend it as much as he desires; such confidence, as Luther says, will only stick to the words and remain upon the lips, but never enter the heart. Hence, even if all the world should join hands and shout for a whole decade, yes, even for a lifetime: "We do not believe that Christ's blood was shed for our sins, but we regard God as gracious nevertheless," they would be condemned by their own heart and conscience and would go down into the grave overwhelmed with guilt.
    The fact is this: God is known, apprehended, and perceived as a gracious Father only in Christ. never without Christ. The Jews also wanted to call God their Father, although they rejected Jesus as their Savior.  Like Professor Harnack, they refused to allow Christ's person and work a place in the Gospel. But our Lord reproved them: "If ye believe not that I am He." your Savior and Sin-offering. "ye shall die in your sins," John 8. 24. No creature can give a stricken conscience peace and rest; that is God's work, not man's; for if man is to enjoy peace of soul, the Holy Spirit must inscribe in his heart the verdict of pardon in place of the sentence of condemnation. The Holy Ghost, however, is the Spirit who glorifies Christ, John 16, 24; and He glorifies Him as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," John 1, 29.  But as He thus glorifies Christ in the heart of the believer, He cancels the decree of condemnation, which burdens the conscience. and substitutes for it the verdict of forgiveness, together with the assurance that he has a gracious God.
Dear reader, get this book by Franz Pieper and be filled with true Christian teaching by the last great Christian teacher in this world.  He was in St. Louis, America...  not in Germany.  The English translation is easy reading and you can possibly pick up a used copy from the 1933 CPH edition for a cheaper rate than CPH's Print-On-Demand version.

I will summarize Pieper's essay The Open Heaven in a later post.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

...thou shalt not build it of hewn stone (SDG)

In a previous post, I quoted C.F.W. Walther on the role of faith in the Doctrine of Justification (page 105 in a book).  I am repeating it here:
It is said that man must also do something in justification, namely believe.  Under such circumstances justification is not attributed solely to God.  But that means nothing else than robbing God of part of His honor and ascribing it to man.  Then it would not be God alone who saves us, but we would work together.  Only those who cannot distinguish sharply between condition and means can conceive such a thought.  A condition demands a performance on the part of the person who is to receive something.  For example: “I’ll give you the horse with the condition that you pay me so much for it.”  With the meeting of the condition the other promises performance in return.  Faith would then be an accomplishment on our part for which God would give us salvation in return.  But this is false.
 There was a Old Testament Bible passage that I recalled (but could not find it until recently) that brought out this thought beautifully.  Here it is:

Exodus 20:25
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it
God clearly stated that man was not to dress up the stones for his alter so that man could claim some of the honor and glory, some of the credit.  No, salvation is from God alone!
To God Alone Be The Glory
Soli Deo Gloria

The ignorance of a German church historian (Thomas Kaufmann)

It seems whole libraries have been written about the subject of Luther and the Jews.  A fairly recent publication (2008) was the book Jews, Judaism, And the Reformation in Sixteenth-century Germany, a series of essays by various authors who would call themselves either Christian or Jewish.  One of them was by Prof. Thomas Kaufmann of the University of Göttingen in Germany who:
  • is Professor of Church History 
  • has declined offers to be the Chair of Church History at other prestigious German universities
  • was called on by Dr. Robert Kolb, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, to write an introduction to his recent book
The title of Kaufmann's article is "Luther And The Jews" and is presented by the book's American editors as perhaps the one most definitive that could be considered a defense of Luther... but not too defensive.  Prof. Kaufmann's knowledge appears to be quite extensive and is one of the top scholars in the modern world on this subject.  He attempts to defend Luther against those who associate him with the Third Reich.  

However, Professor Kaufmann is seriously deficient in his knowledge of true Lutheran theologians for he states the following on pages 101-102:
There appears to be no evidence of any great influence of Luther's later polemical anti-Jewish works upon ... the leading theologians or churchmen of the nineteenth century.
So I corresponded directly with Prof. Kaufmann to see if perhaps he had not heard of C.F.W. Walther of America, the premiere Lutheran theologian of the 19th century, and that Walther had clearly taught that the Jews were lost and that God's wrath has come upon them till the end of time.  Although Kaufmann answered some other questions, he would not respond to this question.

So the greatest current German theologian (perhaps) on the subject of Luther and the Jews ignores C.F.W. Walther, The American Luther, and finds he is deficient in his field of Church History.  There is another point to be made here and that is that the premiere Lutheran theologian of the 20th Century – Franz Pieper is also ignored. Kaufmann's deficiency is to be expected because both Walther and Pieper had long ago showed the apostasy of Germany's theologians.

O.P. Kretzmann laughs at Ro. 16:17-18 (from Valparaiso U.)

It is a fearful thing to laugh at God's Word, even more so by one who claims leadership in a so-called "Lutheran" institution.  But it was the president of Valparaiso University, O.P. Kretzmann, who spoke laughingly about a passage of Scripture.  My blog post on the Timeline of The Downfall Of The LC-MS included this incident which occurred about the year 1956. This was published by Edward C. Fendt in his book The Struggle for Lutheran Unity and Consolidation in the U.S.A. from the Late 1930’s to the Early 1970’s. On page 199, Mr. Fendt recorded this communication with President O.P. Kretzmann:
...the continued use of Romans 16:17-18 to defend the isolationism and the multi-facted attack of the LC-MS over against other Lutherans: 
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good works and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  
I recall a conversation with O.P. Kretzmann at a time when this quotation was often hurled at the ALC. He said laughingly:
Since the ALC is minding its own business and not engaged in meddling in the Missouri Synod affairs, except in contributing liberally to the broadcast expenses of the Lutheran Hour and buying lots of books published by Concordia Publishing House, it is hard to prove that the ALC is actually ‘causing divisions and offences’ within the Missouri Synod.
I once told a student at Valparaiso University who wanted to know what the Missouri Synod held against the ALC that the ALC was being charged as “worshipping their own belly rather than the Lord Jesus Christ.”  The student replied that in his observation the Missourians ate better and drank more than the ALC men. O.P. opined that the student had a point and that the isolationists better improve on their exegesis
The ALC synod was the adversary that Franz Pieper spoke about in his Last Words For The Missouri Synod.  The ALC eventually merged into what is known today as the ELCA, a lost "Lutheran" American synod. But you know what?  Today's (English) LC-MS (Graebner Synod) is partially responsible for their free-fall from Christian doctrine.

How clear the Romans 16 passage is!  And yet they sneered at it!  O.P. Kretzmann was thought to be a "Missourian", but alas, he was not.  Neither is today's LC-MS, which is thought by many to have "Missourian" roots.

Yes Valparaiso University, this is you.  You are not a Lutheran university, not a Christian university even though you may think you are.  Even your founding father W.H.T. Dau, a contemporary of Franz Pieper, was on shaky ground, let alone O.P. Kretzmann who laughed at God's Word.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pieper & Walther... on uniqueness of Luther (Part 8)

In the last post of this series (continued from Part 7) on Pieper's article in CTM volume 1, page 84 is the subject of the uniqueness of Luther:
Walther says the following about the unique importance of the writings of Luther in comparison to all other theological writings in his Pastorale (page 13): “Luther's works are an almost inexhaustible goldmine for all branches of theology; they are so rich a treasury that they probably alone substitute for a great library, but can be substituted with no collection of books, no matter how large it is.”  It has become gradually also with us a custom that gifts are given for young pastors with their ordination and public introduction.  Under suitable gifts are also to be named Luther's writings.  From our own publishing company [Concordia Publishing House] is a comprehensive issue in 23 volumes, “D. Martin Luthers Sämtliche Schriften” [St. Louis Edition] which is to be recommended as the best one for general use.
How different this sounds from the LC-MS condemnation of Luther:
...we deplore and disassociate ourselves from Luther's negative statements about the Jewish people,
This LC-MS statement only leaves a bad taste for Luther and so one wonders that Luther's "goldmine" of writings are tainted.  But the LC-MS is wrong... and Walther (and Pieper) are the ones to listen to.  Luther's writings are indeed above all other theological writings.

Here is a Table of Contents for this series on Luther's writings:
Part 1 – The Reformer of the Church, selected by God, foretold in Scripture
Part 2 – Germany's theologians ignore Luther
Part 3 – Luther's Polemical Writings
Part 4 – Luther's Repetitiveness
Part 5 – Misuse of Luther
Part 6 – Diligent Reading of Luther
Part 7 – Use of Luther for Difficult Theological Questions
Part 8 – Unique Importance compared to all others

So ends this series on The Fruitful Reading of Luther's Writings.  Walther and Pieper are as fresh today as when these were written 140 years ago and 82 years ago.  Go back... back to the old (German) Missouri Synod and
Back To Luther!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... use of Luther (Part 7)

In this installment (continuing from Part 6), we summarize Pieper and Walther on the use of Luther for difficult theological questions:
How should we use Luther with difficult theological questions?  Walther gives the advice:  “Whenever one bumps into a difficult theological question, one tries to receive with the help of the indexes of Luther's sayings and subjects of Luthers works to get Luther's insights about that from all concerning places. This one must make a rule.  A Lutheran preacher should know how Luther judges on important theological issues.  He is no oracle, but his judgment is of extreme importance for us.  Just read all the places to see where he comes to speak on the issue in question.  Whoever does this diligently, will soon grow fond of Luther and recognize that he can find no better counsellor. Whoever does not do it, does not use Luther.”
That is why I read and re-read Luther's essays against the Jews "On The Jews and Their Lies" and "Vom Schem Hamphoras".  The Jews under their rabbis are a poor, lost people as Luther, Walther and Pieper confirm.  And Luther builds the Christian faith in each of his writings and others.  In "Vom Schem Hamphoras", Luther even adds a beautiful exposition of the different accounts of the lineage of Christ.  I quote from page 190-191 of Gerhard Falk's translation:

83. From the beginning of the gospel, as St. Luke and St. Mark wrote it, the question has arisen: why the two apostles have told the story of the origins of the family of our Lord Jesus Christ so differently (or, as many have explained it, so contradicted by one another?) and it is peculiar that both agree upon the lineage or origins of these persons and end with Joseph and not with Mary and Christ; from this the wise sought to conclude it is not proved with that that Christ is of the family of David, because he does not come from Joseph, whom the apostles trace as coming directly from the line of David, and then suddenly abandon the same Joseph and substitute Mary.
84. Here everyone is involved, particularly the Jews, and thereafter the emperor Julian and his heathens.  In fact, many of the old teachers and not a few of the new; they need to better understand this and other wonders as to whether our Christian belief is wrong here, or uncertain or totally in the dark. That is why we want to talk about this a bit but with permission, if I may, that we are happy to let anyone do it better.
I may offer my own translation to the world of this wonderful Christian writing of Luther who answers a difficult theological question so the Jewish Prof. Gerhard Falk loses some of his "glory".

The final Part 8 follows – Luther's uniqueness.

Pieper & Walther on... diligent reading of Luther (Part 6)

In this installment of this series (after Part 5, beginning with Part 1), we summarize a point in Pieper's article in CTM, volume 1, page 84.  Pieper and Walther now cover the importance of reading Luther:
With respect to diligent reading of Luther, Walther advised:  "You should make it a rule to read something every day from Luther's writings, and flee to them particularly if you feel dry, tired, despondent, sad, helpless and miserable, and then choose especially the letters for your awakening, strengthening and refreshing. One should make his edition of Luther so well known that any writing can be found without a lot of time-consuming lookup."  "One spares his copy of Luther too much.  Those who used up their Erlanger edition in their lifetime have wasted nothing."  The same is also true of our St. Louis Edition. 
Upon Pieper's advice, we should now all go out and buy the "St. Louis Edition" of Luther's writings, right?  Oops, it's in the German language and in the fraktur font to boot.  I blame the today's (English) LC-MS in part (and Satan for two World Wars against Germany) that so few know any of the German language (or Latin).   My parents only spoke German to each other to hide their conversation from their children.  No thought was ever given to teaching their children the language of Luther.  As for the fraktur font, it was outlawed by the great "Lutheran" Third Reich.  Did I get that right, modern history?

Anyway, the venerable "St. Louis Edition" is only available in some libraries in the world.  So how do I occasionally link to images from this edition?  Because I scanned all 23 volumes and have digital images of every page!  (This is only a fraction of what I have scanned.)  Why would I do this?  Because it is the St. Louis Edition (updated Walch Edition) so ignored by the modern LC-MS, that I consider it to be the definitive edition of the works of Martin Luther.  O yea, there is the great scholarly Weimar edition (WA - Weimar Ausgabe) from Germany which could contain possibly more of the obscure writings of Luther and perhaps a few more obscure historical notes, maybe even helps on language usage.  This is the edition found in most public libraries that carries the German editions.  But the St. Louis Edition is from the institution that knew Luther the best... the old (German) Missouri Synod!  Their comments have much more spiritual weight than those of modern Germany. There is more on this subject of editions by James Swan in his blog Beggars All.

So what are Americans like me to do?  We live in the country where true Lutheranism fled to, away from the apostasy of Germany.  We now know only English (thanks LC-MS).  So we must turn to the whatever English translation we can get for Luther's writings.  A shortened view of Luther can be gained by CPH publication What Luther Says by Ewald Plass (but watch out for modern judgments on Luther). The more complete (yet not complete) is largely the unionistic project between Augsburg/Fortress Press and Concordia Publishing House that is called the American Edition of Luther's Works. Many libraries carry it. There are various other sources... Google, Amazon, and the Internet will all help.  But be aware of the misuse of Luther. And especially beware of all modern judgments of Luther by any translators or editors.
Part 7 follows — on the use of Luther for difficult theological questions.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... misuse of Luther (Part 5)

See parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 for previous portions of this series.

Now comes an interesting point made by Pieper and Walther on the misuse of Luther's writings:
However, Walther also warns about the misuse of quotations from Luther.  He says:  “The bare appeal on Luther's opinion is dangerous, when one generates the appearance that one requires faith on Luther's authority.  The preacher must have proved the thing already from God's Word and Luther then [only] as a witness appears.... One should make it with quotations from Luther like hymn verses which one also does not cite rather until one has made the thought on the point; then the quotation comes as a strong end.”
Indeed!  No one knows Luther unless they believe the teaching of Scripture first.  This is the great divide and shows why most modern theologians and commentators don't know Luther.  This is why I have to Go Back... back... back to the old (German) Missouri Synod.

Walther's advice was made to a group of pastors who could not be considered adversaries of Luther.  But this warning against the misuse of quotations from Luther applies also to a whole group of adversaries.  
  • Roman Catholics – always caricature Luther's sayings to attempt to refute him; the problem is Luther based his polemical writings on Scripture and the pure Gospel.
  • Julius Streicher & the Third Reich – whose misuse of Luther had nothing to do with Luther's spiritual basis but rather a worldly basis.  Pieper and Walther had already exposed the un-Lutheran, anti-Christian character of Germany's theologians... Germany had already largely abandoned Christianity.     Here's a question for all the writers and references on the Wikipedia site about Luther and his so-called "anti-semitism": Why did the Romans devastate and remove the Jews from their homeland? Was it because the Romans were Christians?
  • Jews – who will always and forever use Martin Luther as a lightning rod against Christianity.  But Luther's comments were spiritual and based on Scripture, and not based on "racism" or "anti-semitism", whatever that means.
Luther knew he would be misquoted but that did not stop him from writing what he did.  Luther would not care that his name is being raked through the mud... not in the least.  No, his care was only for the Christian faith.

The next Part 6 is on the diligent reading of Luther.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... Luther's tautologies (Part 4)

See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for previous portions.
Now Pieper and Walther turn to Luther's repetitiveness:
Some have complained about "tautologies" in Luthers writings.  Yes, Luther himself says repeatedly and in different, even crude expressions that he believes himself too voluble.  Walther cites in his essay concerning Luthers "tautologies" the following words of Rambach: "It is true, when Luther arrived at an important point, he cannot content himself with the fact that he presents the same again, but he cares more often to repeat and inculcate one after the other. But just in this his mastery insists that he knows how to express the same things always with other words, so that one can hold his repetitions by no means for empty and superfluous tautologies, but rather they must be compared to the often repeated blows of a hammer, thereby the nail is driven deeper into the wall.”  Walther himself says in his paper:  “The supposed tautologies [of Luther] are deliberate means to make the truth clear to the reader and to drive right into the heart.”
In the last blog (Part 3), the analogies were to big axes and sharp saws... this time to hammer blows.  All these tools were spiritual tools to build and defend Christian faith.

These blog posts are in a sense "repetitiveness" in the sense that I am repeating what Pieper repeated from Walther... why?  Because the subject is so important.

Pieper and Walther go on to praise Luther's letters saying:
More beautiful letters have not been written.
But then the subject of "misuse" of quotations from Luther comes up -- see Part 5 next.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... Luther's polemical writings (Part 3)

See Part 1 and Part 2 for earlier installments of this series.
Pieper now turned to Walther's other points on Luther:
For the remainder of Walther's essay we raise a few points. "The polemical writings of Luther are now indeed greatly despised, but they are the greatest which have been written by human hands.  There one finds the Scripture truth proved for evidence, there one sees Luther's heroic faith and spiritual joy.  It's all entertaining. That Luther speaks so bluntly is because he fought either the Antichrist or miserable fanatics. You cannot cure all diseases with buttermilk and honey, but also bitter medicine must be given.  Luther had a thousand year old oak tree of enormous extent before him, therefore he could not cut with a penknife but had to use huge axes and sharp saws.  His heart would melt with sorrow over the poor souls who sat in darkness.  Whoever stumbles over Luther's zeal, stumbles against God who has chosen such a tool.
"...huge axes and sharp saws".  -- Even if the modern world turns against Luther, it admires his courage against the "thousand year old oak tree" of the Roman papacy.  Time Magazine in it's December 31, 1999 issue called Martin Luther "Ideologue of the Century" (even as they condemned him) saying:
Some of his writings were the doubtful, occasionally anti-Semitic musings of a depressed ex-monk... But his doubts led him to question much established wisdom.

"It's all entertaining". --  The Jewish Hollywood likes to say it knows entertainment (e.g. That's Entertainment! movie) but the real entertainment is watching Martin Luther against all the opponents of Christianity.

Although Walther does not mention it here, yet there was another subject of his polemical writings ... the Jews. We see by this who really had a heart for the poor Jews... it's not any of today's "Lutheran" theologians who falsely show sympathy for the Jews.  It was Martin Luther who came to realize their rabbis were harder than stone and so a "sharp mercy" in his harsh later writings showed true spiritual concern... for not only the Jews but also for any Christian who would be blind to the blindness of the Jews.

I will repeat Walther's last sentence here:
Whoever stumbles over Luther's zeal,
stumbles against God who has chosen such a tool.
A lot of Christians are stumbling...

In Part 4, Luther's tautology (repetitiveness) is covered.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... Luther and his writings (Part 2)

See Part 1 of 8 for the beginning of this series.
Pieper goes on to Walther's statements about modern theologians and Luther:
"What fury of God however follows on it as we see today in the new German theologian who [usually] asks nothing according to Luther, yes basically despises him because he did not set forth the truth scientifically. . . . On the other hand an old theologian has called Luther's writings 'Elisha's  mantle, which he has at his ascension to drop' while Bugenhagen explicitly sees Revelation 14:6-7 fulfilled in Luther. Therefore, this first argument is of great importance. God makes Christians responsible if they do not recognize this man as the reformer of the church. We must not think in terms of Luther: 'We can also, as good Luther found the truth as best we can be found through diligent study.' Want and woe to the church if they do not use God's instrument, but pass it, no, when God fulfilled his prophet with the spirit and light, he does so for the common good of the Church!  A church in which Luther's writings are not studied at first by the pastor and then also on their way by the ordinary Christian, has certainly not Luther's mind, and spirit of Luther is the pure evangelical spirit of faith, humility, simplicity. The other dogmatists of our church are not to be put on the same level as Luther. A church in which first is not studied Luther's writings by the pastors and then also by the ordinary Christians, certainly doesn't have Luther's spirit, and Luther's spirit is the pure evangelical spirit of faith, humility, and simplicity.  The other dogmatists of our church are not to be put on the same level as Luther. Luther had nothing behind him but hellish error. He had to go alone into the Scriptures and bring out the truth.  Nobody can understand how it could be possible.  It may look easy, but it would be impossible without the special illumination of the Holy Spirit."
The world tries to judge Germany and it's downfall leading up to the Third Reich and it's defeat in World War II by it's headiness and "anti-semitism".  This judgment was especially done by Britain and it's disparaging remarks about the "Huns".  But Walther and Pieper knew better... it was Germany's departure from Luther that spelled it's true defeat, for the Land of Luther had cast off it's mantle and sought it's own program.

Part 3 covers Luther's polemical writings.

Pieper & Walther on... Luther and his writings (Part 1) — "The Fruitful Reading of Luther's Writings"

[August 10, 2015: added note in red at bottom]
Today's (English) LC-MS says this about Luther and his writings:
It is widely ... assumed that Luther's personal writings and opinions have some official status among us (thus, sometimes implying the responsibility of contemporary Lutheranism for those statements, if not complicity in them) ...  we deplore and disassociate ourselves from Luther's negative statements about the Jewish people...
So today's LC-MS has, despite some statements of it's theologians and representatives, condemned Luther, at least in some of his writings.

Unlike today's modern theologians and even most Lutherans, the old German Missouri Synod viewed the writings of Luther as unique over all other theologians.  In February 1930 (CTM volume 1, pgs 81-84), Franz Pieper summarized a paper that C.F.W. Walther submitted for a conference of pastors about the writings of Luther:

“The fruitful reading of Luther's writings.”
Under this title is located in volume 33 of “Lehre und Wehre a paper that Dr. Walther submitted and discussed at that time [about 1887] to the pastoral conference of Missouri.  The purpose of the paper was to encourage the pastors to earnestly read Luther's writings.  The writer of these lines remembers that Walther nearly obliged the members of the conference that they would bring “a marvellous passage” from Luther in which they had encountered with their reading of Luther “to the next conference” and thus also allow other members to enjoy their "finding". 
Walther's paper is written in thesis form, and already the first thesis points out that a unique meaning comes with Luther's writings in comparison with all other theological writings. The first thesis is:  "To desire and love the reading and studying of Luther's writings, it is necessary before all things that one visualises vividly that Luther is to be reckoned not with the usual pure theologians, but the reformer selected by God of the church and was the revealer and slayer of the Antichrist.”  In carrying out this thesis, it states: "Luther is the only theologian who is prophesied in Scripture. He is beyond all doubt, the angel that Revelation 14:6 speaks of. He is no doubt the one who after 2 Thess. 2 reveals the Antichrist and should destroy him. . . . . Through Luther, God has opened the eyes that previously honored the pope in blindness as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ for thousands and millions. Luther does not have anyone comparable with him after the apostles and prophets in the church.  One can name not one single doctrine which Luther did not formulate in the clearest and most splendid way.  Would it not now be unspeakable ingratitude against God, who has sent us this man, if we did not want to listen to his voice?  Then we would not have recognized the time that God us has visited us.
How I love to "re-hash the in-house" theology (a term Kurt Marquart used) of the old German Missouri Synod!   And as Pieper pointed to Walther who pointed to Luther, so I point to Pieper as the last true speaker for the true Lutheran Church today.  Virtually all theologians outside the Synodical Conference and the old Missouri Synod did not know Luther.  This exclusion especially means modern German theologians! Walther touches on this later...

Because of the importance of Pieper's article, I will continue it in the next post, Part 2.
The series totals 8 parts – see Part 8 for a Table of Contents for all 8 posts.
[August 10, 2015: See also Matthew Harrison's translation of Walther's original essay in his book At Home..., pgs 333-343)]

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Poor people! (Pieper, the Jews, and Palestine)

Your Christian reporter and commentator, Franz Pieper, in 1930 commented on a news item from Palestine in his day (CTM, volume 1, page 72). It will sound quite familiar to our modern ears today:
The plight of the Jewish sham state in Palestine is described in a story from Jerusalem which a St. Louis newspaper has received and published: "The Jewish National Council has called on Jews to bring a relaxation and not to respond to the Arab boycott; but because the Arabs against Jews continue against them and get Christian and Muslim clients out from Jewish shops with violence, of course the Jewish business people and particularly the small merchants and artisans get their wives and friends to not buy from Arabs.  In addition, the bitterness among the Jews has penetrated deeply into the masses and especially in the lower classes. There exists among the Jews an indescribable distrust of everyone and everything: against the administration, against the government in London, against the Arabs, against the Jewish National Council, against the Zionist executive, and even against foreign Christians, of which, however, some during the riots have shown no particular skill. Every word uttered by any official body, is now interpreted in the worst sense as a political ploy or trick. . . . The situation has become so acute that official statements and promises hardly have a calming effect, but instead should be seen as a mockery and thus  thus even exacerbates the effect.  If not follows decisive action to prove clearly that the Government is determined, without regard to threats and propaganda maneuvering, with a firm political line to stop, then the end of the development is not in sight."
After quoting the St. Louis newspaper report, Pieper goes on to comment:
Like the Jews acted under their own program when they still lived in the country assigned by God, so do the Zionist Jews of our time.  When the Jews still lived in their country, they should believe according to God's program promised to them and believe the Messiah who appeared in the fullness of time.  Instead, they rejected their Messiah and wanted to be saved by means of their own works.  Instead the Zionist Jews strive (with the consent of other Jews who have no desire to emigrate to Palestine) after a worldly kingdom in Palestine.  Poor people!  But none of us has cause to rise above the Jews striving for earthly things.  If God's grace would not have mercy on us, we would also act according to our own program.      F.P.
Franz Pieper, like Martin Luther, was spiritually sympathetic for the Jews.  The world is sympathetic with the Jews only in a worldly, earthly manner.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Synodical Conf. - founding essay (Objective Justification) Part 2

See Part 1 of this series for background information.
I began this series of posts with a letter of inquiry (in 1995) to Prof. Kurt Marquart of the CTS Fort Wayne Seminary.  I asked his basis for assuming that the author of the essay to the founding convention of the Synodical Conference was F.A. Schmidt.  But my eyes were opened by faith and it became increasingly clear that Marquart's assumption was incorrect.  And so I used the evidence I gathered in letters with others (in 1997 and 1998) whom I considered having fellowship with.  Here is the portion of my letters:
...  Oh how Kurt Marquart has to clear his throat when he tries to defend the doctrine of Sasse on Scripture!  Oh that Kurt Marquart would turn back to the old ways and preach/teach Objective Justification not as if it were F.A. Schmidt's doctrine that can be questioned, but Christian doctrine, the doctrine preached from the heart of C.F.W. Walther!  It was C.F.W. WALTHER who wrote the Thesis on Justification for the first meeting of for the Synodical Conference in 1872.  It was not F.A. Schmidt as Marquart (the translator) suggests and Larry Darby follows.  It was C.F.W. Walther!  How do I know this?  It is not stated directly in the report itself who wrote it.  It is stated somewhere (I think Ohio's Kirchenzeitung) that Schmidt read the paper.  Then how do I know this?  How do I know it was C.F.W. Walther who wrote this paper? How can anyone know for sure?  BECAUSE THIS WAS THE HEART OF C. F. W. WALTHER!  THIS DOCTRINE IS THE ONE GOD TRULY BLESSED AMERICA WITH!!!
  • - Franz Pieper reveals unequivocally in his "Walther as Theologian" article in the section on Walther's doctrine on Justification (CTM December, 1955) that it was Walther himself who wrote SCR 1872. page 924: “This justification pertains to all individuals, or to the whole world. ‘If the question is raised whether or not it is right to say that the whole world has been absolved but not all individual persons, we must reply: Through Christ, God has reconciled with all men and with every individual person.’  (SCR, p. 32)  This doctrine of the general justification of all men before they believe is not a theological construction but a Biblical doctrine.”  This whole article caused a constant stream of  “PRAISE GOD!” from my lips.  Here was Pieper telling me:  “Yes, I know it will be stated that general justification will be called a theological construction (eg Larry Darby, Walter A. Maier, Jr.).  But don’t you dare ever doubt this doctrine.  It doesn’t matter if the whole world is against it.  If you even question it, you are lost!”
  • - Walther’s -essay delivered at Addison, IL in 1859 “The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification” (translated in Vol. I of CPH Essays for the Church.  One quote (so many to choose from) from page 58: “Furthermore, why is there disinclination to private absolution as if one does not believe that all are already redeemed, even those who are sweating in hell, and that all that is needed now is that you know and believe this...”
  • - Walther himself admits the beauty of this doctrine for all those who "covet their souls salvation" in Der Lutheraner vol 28, page 184, September 1872.  This in reference to Synodical Conference Report of 1872 on Justification.
  • - George Stoeckhardt [error - this was Prof. Gunther] article in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 30, 1874, page 47: (translated:) “Whoever a composition of the most beautiful testimonies of Luther over this thing covets, we recommend that the report of professor Walther: The Lutheran Doctrine of the Justification.”  - the 1859 report of Luther’s quotes on justification.”
  • - Engelder’s article in CTM Vol. VII, No. 11, November 1936, page 801-815: “Walther, a Christian Theologian”.  In this article at the top of page 807, Walther is identified as the author of SCR 1872.
  • - Walther's sermon for Easter Day printed in Brosamen, page 138 (translated in ELS’s book “The Word of His Grace”, page 229ff.).
  • - Walther’s Epistle Sermons, page 211.(page 217 in Donald Heck English translation)
  • - where else did Dr. Walther proclaim this in writing?  Everywhere!  Walther himself states the doctrine of the Trinity and Persons of Christ are meaningless without the Doctrine of Justification.  What does it matter about Church, Ministry, yes, even Scripture itself if this Doctrine of Justification falls?  The Confessions clearly state that the Bible cannot be understood without it.
Indeed, all Christianity falls when this Doctrine of Justification falls.  Your salvation and mine depends on it.

In the following parts, I will give some details of a controversy that developed in the mid 1990s over the the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification.

Letter to Prof. Kurt Marquart (Objective Justification), Part 1

In the 1990s, the Doctrine of Justification was a very hot topic for me because my salvation depended on it and I had to be sure. The decade later culminated in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) between ELCA Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church.
I obtained a copy of Prof. Kurt Marquart's English translation of an essay on Justification delivered at the founding of the Synodical Conference in 1872 (abbreviated SCR).  The book is still sold at CTS bookstore in Fort Wayne.  I carefully read and digested this magnificent essay, then became puzzled when in Note 1. after the essay, Prof. Marquart said :
Written probably by F.A. Schmidt, who later became virulently anti-Missourian, ...
I was puzzled because after reading several other related publications, I understood the author to be C.F.W. Walther.  So I wrote a letter to Prof. Marquart:
Professor Kurt Marquart
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N. Clinton St.
Fort Wayne, IN  46825
I have obtained a copy of your paper "JUSTIFICATION - OBJECTIVE and SUBJECTIVE: A Translation".  I read at the end in your note #1 your suggestion that F.A. Schmidt was probably the author.  I did not think any more about this until I recently read a translation of F. Pieper's paper "Dr. C. F. W. Walther as Theologian" by J. T. Mueller in Concordia Theological Monthly December 1955 and January 1956.  In this paper, F. Pieper identifies the author of the 1872 Syndodical Conference essay as Walther.  I thought to write you to find out how you arrived at your suggestion of F.A. Schmidt.  I also read in the book "Ebenezer" edited by W.H.T. Dau on page 331 that Walther was excited about the practical, satisfying nature of the content of the essay.  Though this is not a direct reference to Walther as author, it does show his close familiarity with it.  The other evidence would be again in Pieper's paper which ties the teaching of this essay to several others by Walther:
1) The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification - Essay at Fifth Western District Convention, Addison, IL  beginning May 5, 1859 translated in "Essays for the Church" - CPH vol 1, page 31ff - (LDJ)
2) Report of the Western District, 1874; translated in "Convention Essays" by August Suelflow, CPH, page 64ff (RWD)
3) Brosamen, page 138; translated in "The Word of His Grace - Sermon Selections" ELS page 229ff
According to Pieper, this was the heart of Walther's teaching.  I am interested in your findings on the authorship.
Signed, Xxx Xxx (BackToLuther)
 The basic question is: Who wrote the founding doctrine of Justification for the Synodical Conference?
  1. F.A. Schmidt or
  2. C.F.W. Walther
Why did this matter to me?  Because the teaching in this essay is not only one of the clearest proclamations of the Gospel since the days of Martin Luther but also the basis for the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference that it helped to found.
I cannot today find Prof. Marquart's response that I received from him but I recall that he did not argue my suggestion that the essay was actually written by C.F.W. Walther, saying he took his idea of F.A. Schmidt from some of the published sources.

In Part 2 of this series, I present my extended response to this question which was used in several communications with others who defended "Objective Justification".

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pieper to the 21st Century: the lost heritage of the Reformation

The 20th Century Luther, Franz Pieper, noted in 1930 (CTM vol 1, pg 151) that some were questioning whether the spirit of the Reformation had been lost.  Certainly many today wonder at the same question... are we "missing the boat"?  Have we gone astray from the true teaching?
Pieper's comment:
What still prevents in our day "the return to the heritage of the Reformation"? This question is answered by Luther's dictum: "Whoever not yet is nothing, can out of that God also make nothing." (St. Louis Edition, vol. IV, column 1692.)  As long as we still do not believe that our conversion and salvation is based on God's grace alone, but in the last analysis is based on our good behavior, we ourselves fight against the legacy of the Reformation which is on the sola gratia (grace alone). The same is true with respect to the principium cognoscendi (source of knowledge) of theology, which is on the sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). We must be convinced that we know not one iota more about the things which concern our salvation than is given in the Holy Scripture which is revealed in God's own, infallible Word.  Hence, we must drop all thoughts of Modern-Lutheran theology which are in advanced training of Christian doctrine. (underlining mine).
Pieper takes square aim at "modern Lutheran theology" for wrecking true Christian doctrine.  And it is a terrible thing that Pieper's own Missouri Synod, today's English LC-MS, fell to this horrible teaching which questions the sola gratia and sola Scriptura.
But when the Lord brought me back to a living faith, I took comfort that, even though the whole world seemingly went astray, God's Word did not stray.  Yes, John 3:16 was actually still true and I could take that to my grave.  And by that faith, the Lord led me to the huge sources of comfort and instruction in the writings of Pieper, Walther, and Martin Luther. Many of these sources were hidden away... ignored by today's LC-MS. Although there are writings since the time of Pieper's death that can edify a Christian, yet I want the pure truth, the good stuff.  If the reader also wants the pure truth, the "good stuff", then read Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, all 3 volumes.  And then read it again.  You will then have gotten the mind of C.F.W. Walther and Martin Luther at the same time!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pieper's report of a "new religion" (Humanism & "sin")

In the 1930 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly, volume 1, pages 221-222, is an article by Franz Pieper about a "new religion":
Richly deserved mockery of a "new religion".  In a St. Louis political newspaper is a report that a new religious society has been formed in New York under the name "First Humanist Society of New York."  The new society will be further described as follows: "It is up to date.  It has up to now 106 members. There is no God, no heaven, no sin, no redemption, no prayer in the new religion.  It is intended for those people who 'do not consider themselves held to any church.' . . .  It is strange to talk about religion without having 'sin' mentioned.  But to ignore sin is one of the peculiarities of our day.   Rev. Dr. Shelton, who is the head of the National Bible Institute, makes the remark that he had found in 41 New York Sermons only once preaching the word 'sin'."
There is a Wikipedia article on the society – click on the title "First Humanist Society of New York". There is much information there about "Humanism" - and very notable people were associated with it: Julian Huxley, John Dewey, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Mann.  And so Pieper's comments about this are all the more significant for today:
We do not believe that much is different in other cities.  Unitarianism, which knows no sin and no wrath of God upon sin in the sense of Scripture, and therefore rejects and mocks the satisfactio vicaria Christ (vicarious satisfaction of Christ) as unnecessary, has well become the dominant religion in the country.  Also it is not superfluous if we remember that there is still a hesitancy in our flesh to report in relation to the public, and especially preaching, that the wages of sin is eternal damnation. This weakness is helped by the reminder from Ezekiel 3:17-19: "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.  When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.  Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."   Walther says in his Pastorale, p 83: "So necessary is the application of the Word of God to punish false doctrine, even so necessary is the application of the same also for the punishment of sin or the epanorthotic use of the Word of God. Of these, Luther writes in his  Preface to Church Sermons from 1543: 'Whichever pastor or preacher does not reprove sin, he must take other men's sins to the devil; if half of his own sins are forgiven him, he is a child of blessedness.'"  F.P.

  • Pieper refers to 
    • Walther who refers to 
      • Luther who refers to the 
Word of God
Who are you going to believe: God or Humanism?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Walther: We need a publication that promotes the true faith

Paul McCain, General Editor for Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, has dutifully quoted C.F.W. Walther in the description of this book about the importance for all Lutherans to have this book.  The quote is from Essays For The Church, Volume II, page 51.  This Walther book is currently unavailable from CPH but is promised to be re-published later.  The essay was originally delivered in German to the Iowa District Convention in 1879 and the original German page is here.
And so I thank CPH Publisher McCain for pointing me to Page 51 of Essays For The Church, Volume II because in addition to the quote that McCain uses so freely, I will now give a much longer version of what Walther said with some of my comments interspersed:
    Therefore Synod is in no way fulfilling its purpose if it doesn’t see to it that the right kind of books are made available. What good would it do for the pastor to say,  "You must conduct services in the home (Hausgottesdienst)," if he doesn’t see to it that they have the necessary books to do that? That is why our Synod has, for example, published the Altenburg Bible (Altenburger Bibelwerk). Everyone who owns that edition of the Bible is equipped for the rest of his life. That book is a precious treasure indeed. It is specifically designed to meet the needs of the head of the household.
Publisher McCain would say that his CPH is making available the "right kind of books".  He has been instrumental in getting a "Reader's Edition" of the Lutheran Confessions published. And CPH has also published a "Reader's Edition" Walther's Law and Gospel. And finally, CPH has published Matthew Harrison's At Home in the House of My Fathers, offering several English translations of Walther, Pieper, and other fathers of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Some of these books have even been put on sale recently at very reasonable cost... a good effort at putting them in the hands of the lay members.
    For the church, however, we also need good agendas and hymnals, for the schools good catechisms and readers. For those who have more time available, we need other precious books, e.g., Luther’s Writings. If Synod doesn’t see to it that books of this nature are either published or at least made available to everyone, it isn’t employing every possible means to achieve the purpose of promoting genuine Christian knowledge in its midst, thereby allowing every child to grow to full maturity in the knowledge of Christ.
Now Walther touches on areas where CPH is in trouble.  Along with Luther's Catechisms and Lutheran Confessions are hymnals and books inspired by the modern age, not Christian teaching.  And although CPH offers Luther's Works in English, many of the comments by the editors question Luther either on his facts or his theology.  The first thing I did when I bought my set of Luther's Works (used) was to cut out the prefaces/introductions by the editors and put those pages in the back!  Shame on CPH!  All of Luther's Works should be re-published with revised prefaces, introductions and footnotes that cut out all judgments of Luther by little theologians. Lay members should be led to read Luther!
    In addition to that—especially at the present time when all the sects are, without exception, publishing magazines, by means of which they enter their homes on a weekly or biweekly basis to teach their people— it is essential that the church which has the one true faith also make use of these means. We are living in a time of “reading mania.” For the most part, however, this reading-craze is being met with magazines that promote wicked partisan politics, poison the mind with wretched novels, and on top of that also slander Christ and His church, pastors, and congregations.
Who could deny the "reading mania" of today in the Internet age with things like blogs and forums.  In Walther's day, it was magazines.  The Der Lutheraner (German) and the Lutheran Witness (English) "magazines" of the old German Missouri Synod were intended to fill this need.
    That is what people are reading, whereas they should be satisfying their craving to read with instructional material for everyone whom God has blessed with the urge to read. Then people would be informed about what is happening in the kingdom of God, as well as what is happening in other churches. And it is not enough that we have just any old kind of “church magazine.” We need a publication that promotes the true faith. For example, the Methodist Apologete presents news about every conceivable kind of church activity and event. Unfortunately, they present everything in the light of their perverted Enthusiasm. Much less should a true Christian read a papistic publication! For then the Antichrist himself enters the home with his devilish smut. In place of that a Lutheran should be reading a good, doctrinally pure publication.
Here is the heart of Walther's message.  All publications should "promote the true faith" and be "doctrinally pure".  He clearly warns against publishing errors like the synergism or Enthusiasm of the Methodists or the worse yet, the "smut" of the papists. The magazines of the old (German) Missouri Synod served well until Franz Pieper died and the editors for the Lutheran Witness, especially Theodore Graebner, turned their  writings into quasi Christian stories and news and so caused confusion for the Christian faith.
    One thing more. During our discussion of the first thesis, we spoke a great deal about the Confessions. The Book of Concord should also be in every Lutheran home. For that reason Synod should provide a good, inexpensive copy, and pastors should see to it that every home has one. Because, “What I’m not told, leaves me cold.” If a person isn’t familiar with this book, he’ll think, “That old book is just for pastors. I don’t have to preach. After plowing all day, I can’t sit down and study in the evening. If I read my morning and evening devotions, that’s enough.” No, that is not enough! The Lord doesn’t want us to remain children, who are blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others, contradict heretics, in short, become  capable of doing the work of the office through which the body of Christ will be edified and built up” (Eph. 4:12—1 4).
And finally we come to the paragraph above that Paul McCain publishes to promote the new "Reader's Edition" to the Lutheran Confessions.  Although I would heartily recommend this book to all Christians, unfortunately the "Readers" will have to use caution wherever the editors cause them to question their faith, e.g. when the General Editor prints a quote from a woman psychologist as a testimony for lay members to read the Lutheran Confessions.  Perhaps a better recommendation would have been to put the picture (shown on page 55) of George, Margrave of Brandenburg, who offered his head to be cut off by Emperor Charles rather than to deny Christ and His Word.  In fact I'll do this now as a commemoration of the Lutheran Confessions: