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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Doctrine of (Universal,) Objective Justification again (Part 1)

In Paul T. McCain's blog "cyberbrethren" was a May 24, 2012 post about the subject of "Objective Justification".  A notice of this blog post was published in the June 11, 2012 issue of Herman Otten's newspaper Christian News.  Whenever or wherever this topic is raised, I immediately sit up in my chair to take notice... maybe, hopefully, there will be a resurgence of this doctrine again.  McCain begins his blog thus:
From time to time, I hear that there are still some Lutherans who are very confused about the doctrine of justification, specifically the aspect of it known as objective justification, the teaching that God was in the world reconciling it to Himself through the death of His Son. This was an issue of some moment years ago when a dear friend of my mentor, Kurt Marquart, had a member of his congregation that was unduly influenced by false teachers. He turned to Dr. Marquart for assistance in refuting errors regarding objective justification being spread by this layman. Dr. Marquart prepared this excellent response to errors concerning objective justification...
At this point, McCain's blog publishes Professor Kurt Marquart's essay in its entirety without further comment.  He does not mention who the other parties were in this situation and he does not say any more about the doctrine of Objective Justification, implying that Marquart's "excellent response" is enough to cover the subject, both the background and the doctrine itself.

Why would McCain bring up this topic at this time?  Who are these "Lutherans who are very confused" about this doctrine?  Could it be he hears my charges of the downfall of his LC-MS on this very doctrine?  ... and so he attempts to justify his LC-MS with this essay?

So I searched McCain's blog for other instances of the specific phrase "
objective justification" and found only one other reference to it in his entire blog and that reference was not by him but rather by commenters on a blogpost in October 2007 about Absolution in a public worship service.  In that blogpost, McCain laments "loveable knuckleheads" who teach falsely about it.  Are these "knuckleheads" pastors in the LC-MS?  McCain does not reveal this. But he seems rather upset by these "Lutheran" pastors, and rightly so.

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CTCR Theses on Justification
Rev. McCain – do you not know that your own LC-MS published an official statement on the doctrine of justification in May, 1983 by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) entitled Theses on Justification (CTCR pagePDF here) [2019-01-16 links updated]? This statement largely defends the terminology of "objective" or "universal" justification.  It is "official", Rev. McCain.  Why is this document hardly mentioned by anyone today?  Why must Prof. Marquart to be the authority on this doctrine among "conservative" or "confessional" Lutherans?  BTW, Rev. McCain, who were the members of that CTCR panel in May, 1983?  I see the WELS was quite pleased about this statement and it was said by one of them:
It is heartening to discover that on this vital doctrine we and our former brethren in the LC-MS speak with one voice.
It is striking to me that this CTCR document was published under the presidency of Ralph Bohlmann who seemed to enjoy audiences with the Pope (search for Bohlmann in this PDF essay and this essay).  
***** Update September 19, 2012 *****
I ran across an article by Pastor Rolf Preus that states who the author of this CTCR document was:
"... a fine statement from the Commission on Theology and Church Relations [CTCR] of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod on the doctrine of justification, authored by none other than Robert Preus."
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McCain is not the first one to publish Marquart's essay of "response" – it has been online some years now by a member of the ELS, David Jay Webber, also one who would call Prof. Marquart a "mentor".

Now Rev. Herman Otten (Christian News) does discuss the background of this situation and who the parties were in some detail – it was the "Larry Darby situation".  He then summarizes Marquart's essay.  He also editorializes elsewhere in this issue of his newspaper claiming Marquart as a great "peace maker" and theologian, and his supporter.  But he also does not expound or proclaim the doctrine of Objective Justification because he is very confused on it.  So we see both Paul McCain and Herman Otten claim Marquart as their friend or mentor... and a great theologian.
= = = = = = = = = = = = 

Well I have some news for you, Revs. McCain and  Otten – I, BackToLuther, was a party in that Larry Darby situation.  I have hinted at my involvement in previous posts of letters to Fort Wayne and St. Louis seminary professors.  I started to reveal my involvement in the post dealing with Professor Kurt Marquart's error on the authorship of the essay delivered at the 1872 foundational meeting of the Synodical Conference.  I said then that I would have later posts giving more details and I see now Paul McCain has given me the opportunity to do this.  It is largely the reason I am writing this blog and why I can judge both of you and your LC-MS, and all of "Lutheranism", and indeed all of Christianity today (1 Cor. 6:2).  It is this doctrine that you seem a bit reluctant to proclaim, at least in this terminology – 

The Doctrine of Objective Justification
(or the Gospel)

There is so much information related to the "Larry Darby situation", that it cannot be covered in this blog.  I touched on it in my blog post [see Part 2] regarding my letter to Professor Kurt Marquart.  But I will cover the main aspects of it in the next several posts, primarily of letters with the various parties involved in this situation.  See next Part 2 for the background of Mr. Darby and my first letter to him.
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Updated November 10, 2012:
Because of the large number of posts on this series, I am now adding a Table of Contents for ease of reference:
Part 1 – Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ) – Paul McCain publishes Marquart essay
Part 2 – Intro of "Larry Darby Situation" - 1st letter to him (Before reviewing Marquart essay)
Part 3 – 2nd letter to Darby – digging into his pronouncements against OJ
Part 4a – 3rd letter to Darby, part 1 – admonishing him w/ quotes of Walther and Pieper
Part 4b – 3rd letter to Darby, part 2 – admonishing w/ quotes of Luther, Confessions, Scriptures
Part 5 – Notes to myself – disgust over unbelief of God's true Gospel
Part 6a – Letter to Pastor Rolf Preus, a true defender of UOJ – part 1
Part 6b – Letter to Pastor Rolf Preus, part 2 (challenged him on his fellowship)
Part 7a – 1st letter to John Drickamer, another defender, but weak – part 1
Part 7b – 2nd letter to John Drickamer, part 2 (challenged him on his fellowship)
Part 8a – Letter to editor (Otten) by Steve Stranghoener, a strong defender of UOJ!
Part 8b – Letter to layman Steve Stranghoener - to encourage and challenge his fellowship
Part 9a – Introduction to my review of Marquart essay on OJ
Part 9b – Finally! My review of Prof. Kurt Marquart essay on Objective Justification

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Today celebrates Franz Pieper's birthday 160 years ago

Not only did God bless America with the arrival of C.F.W. Walther from Germany, but He also doubled that blessing by sending a man to immediately follow him. Walther's great work of teaching and preaching the pure Gospel, and rightly distinguishing the Law from the Gospel, was to be lifted up as God's great work of mercy for us modern people even now to this day.

Who was that man to follow C.F.W. Walther (The American Luther) and point to his great work?  It was Franz Pieper, born June 27, 1852... 160 years ago in Germany.  And so that Walther's great work would not be forgotten, God sent Franz Pieper to America also.  Pieper lived until 1931 and tirelessly carried the true doctrine to us – to me and you – through his writings.  Franz Pieper, first before anyone else since him, should be the one we go to for pure Christian teaching, the glorious Gospel, and the Grace of God.

Franz Pieper – The 20th Century Luther!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 12 (Missions; conclusion)

Continued from Part 11 –  Table of Contents in Part 1.  In this last installment of this series, Pieper goes from keeping the doctrine pure to getting the message out, i.e. missions.  Now this teaching is one where Pieper, Walther, and Luther are attacked for not emphasizing it, but we see here that this charge is false.  Pieper (and Walther and Luther) never lost sight of getting the message out.  Thankfully, Albert Collver's essay in the 2011 (vol 75:3-4) issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly seems to recognize this.  And Rev. Dr. Collver, who is currently Director of Church Relations in the LC-MS, could have also used this essay of Pieper to show the old (German) Missouri Synod's heart for missions.  But let us go on to listen to this mission message (pgs 289-290):
     Venerable fathers and brethren, let me finally show you in a few words what behooves those who by God's grace believe and teach the heaven which Christ has opened, and then let me add a few words of warning. Since the matter is so self-evident, I need not multiply words.
It certainly behooves us who by faith see heaven open to manifest the utmost zeal in publishing the Gospel of the open heaven. As the time of our Savior's death drew near, He hastened, as it were, to Jerusalem to suffer and die in order that He might fling open the gates of heaven to the whole world, Mark 10: 32. So we, too, must not be languid in spreading the message of the open heaven, but must, so to speak, speed forth into the world, especially in view of the fact that our Savior expressly commands us: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."  Preaching the Gospel means nothing else than proclaiming the message of the heaven opened by Christ.
     For this reason also we who believe and proclaim the open heaven cannot think of restricting the training of ministers and teachers; in fact, we must expand this enterprise. Our Savior Himself admonishes us: "The harvest, truly, is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest," Matt. 9: 37-38. At the present time let us also not forget the injunction of our Lord which He directed to His disciples at Jacob's Well: "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest," John 4: 35.
     As we consider this statement, let us think of the enormous mission-fields which have been opened to us, for example, in India, where by God's providential direction not merely a few hundred Samaritans, but hundreds of thousands of Hindus come to us and beseech us to send Christian missionaries among them. Surely under these circumstances it behooves us to show zeal and enthusiasm for the work of missions.
     However, as we examine ourselves, we must discover something, too, that does not behoove us in view of the fact that we are gazing into the open heaven. In our mission-coffers and in our Synodical Treasury in general there exists a huge deficit, and certainly the open heaven and depleted church treasuries are not compatible with each other. The means by which we may remove this unfortunate state of affairs are well known to us. We must think of the glorious heaven which is flung open by virtue of our dear Savior's suffering and death and which we already possess by faith. If we do this, then our love for our precious Lord and our devoted service in His vineyard will revive us to new consecration. Oh, that we may gaze into the open heaven, not only occasionally, but without ceasing! To this end may God grant us all His grace! Amen.
What a powerful message promoting missions for the old (German) Missouri Synod!

But a note to the reader:  what occupied Pieper for most of his essay?  It was about keeping the message of the Gospel pure, about defending it against errors that break the chain of salvation, whether it be against universal grace or by grace alone.  It shows that Pieper kept that chain strong so that the message for its mission efforts would enable the Holy Spirit, not man, to be the one to build His Church.

Now I, BackToLuther, will update Franz Pieper on what is now "the most deplorable event in modern history, secular as well as ecclesiastical" (see Part 6).  It it the downfall of his dear beloved Missouri Synod!  It is these doctrines of universal grace and by grace alone that have been pushed aside and downgraded by the allowance of false teachings to be taught side-by-side.

Rev. Dr. Albert Collver: You would do well to go backwards a bit and concentrate on getting the message right, like Pieper does.  I think you already know this since you say in your review of Matthew Harrison's book At Home in the House of My Fathers:
 We would do well to follow in their path.
You will have to battle the error that is in your own church body...  you will have to set aside for awhile your (and Matthew Harrison's) concentration on "witness, mercy, life together", on "missions", on "service", on disaster and world relief, "human care", "social work", even on "church relations".  Rather you should encourage Prof. Roland Ziegler in his writings on the pure doctrine of Justification.
Here is a good suggestion for you, Dr. Collver – show how the old Iowa, Ohio and Norwegian Synods of the past were wrong in their teachings on the Doctrine of Justification.  This will do 4 things:
  1. It will show how Walther and Pieper were correct in their teachings and warnings against opponents
  2. It will show where your  LC-MS went astray when it did not discipline Professor Theodore Graebner on his article in the American Lutheran.
  3. It will show the way that the ELCA (and NALC -10/24/12) can return to Christianity (instead of David Scaer's way)
  4. It will show how the blessed Synodical Conference could be re-established today
If you do that, you will be going back, back
Back To Luther!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 11 (or else dust and ashes)

Continued from Part 10. (Table of Contents in Part 1) In this installment, Franz Pieper repeats a striking statement of warning by the man who battled to re-open and keep open the doors to Heaven – C.F.W. Walther.  And then he adds his own warning (pages 288 - 289):
For the same reason Dr. Walther, at the dedication of our seminary in St. Louis on Jefferson Avenue in 1883, also stated so earnestly that he would rather see that stately and beautiful edifice crumble into dust and ashes than that the doctrine of divine grace be perverted and truth and error, side by side, be taught or tolerated in it. In the same spirit, three years ago [1926], we dedicated our new group of seminary buildings on De Mun Avenue to their sacred use. And this is true of all our seminaries and colleges and other synodical buildings at home and abroad. Before they degenerate into institutions in which the Christian doctrine of divine grace is perverted and souls purchased by Christ unto everlasting life are thus prevented from entering heaven, may they rather fall into ruins! And so far as our synodical periodicals are concerned, let me say: May our Lutheraner, our Lehre und Wehre, our Lutheran Witness, and our Theological Monthly pass out of existence with that number in which truth and error are taught side by side, especially the pernicious error that man's conversion and salvation depend not solely on God's grace in Christ, but also on man's own good conduct – an error which is of such a nature that, as we have already heard, it closes the Christ-opened heaven to every sinner. God grant us His grace that we may overcome all temptations to make room for this damnable error!
Pieper now mentions the dedication in 1926 of the newest facilities in St. Louis, facilities that are still largely part of today's Concordia Seminary, the flagship teaching seminary of the LC-MS.  The dedication of these facilities was mentioned in a previous post about a video that was made of this event.

  • Why would C.F.W. Walther want to see the 1883 Concordia Seminary "crumble into dust and ashes"?
  • Why would Franz Pieper want to see the 1926 Concordia Seminary "fall into ruins"?
  • Why would Franz Pieper want to see today's Lutheran Witness, Reporter, Concordia Journal, and Concordia Theological Quarterly "pass out of existence"?

Because of this: 
perverted teaching on grace alone and universal grace, taught side by side with truth 

Do you hear that, today's LC-MS?  Walther and Pieper want your seminaries to "crumble into dust and ashes" and your periodical publications to "pass out of existence"!  The sad truth is they largely have passed out of existence because today's (English) LC-MS is not yesterday's old (German) Missouri Synod.  And so your facilities and periodicals are only husks of the real Missouri Synod from above.

What?  What did you say CPH?  Oh, you say you still sell this book by Franz Pieper?  That may be, but it is only by God's surpassing grace that it is still available, not because you are worthy of it.  

In the last Part 12, Pieper relates all this to missions.

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 10 (Chain of Salvation)

In this installment of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1) from Pieper's essay The Open Heaven, Pieper drives home the importance of the doctrine that keeps the gates of Heaven open – grace alone, sola gratia.  pages 286-288:
     Dr. Walther was wont to remind his hearers that every chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Now let us suppose that a chain has twelve links and that eleven of these are strong enough to carry a thousand pounds apiece. But notwithstanding the fact that the eleven links do not cause us any worry that the chain might break, yet the twelfth link, so weak that it could hear only ten pounds, would reduce the carrying power of the whole chain to merely ten pounds.
What a wonderful analogy of a chain and its weakest link that Walther draws on to view the absolute importance of the this doctrine!  Pieper now expands on this analogy:
     Let us apply this truth to the chain of salvation. The chain which God has prepared for our salvation is indeed very, very strong, so strong that it can support heaven and earth and all mankind. That chain is the eternal mercy of God in Christ offered the whole world of lost sinners. "It is that mercy never ending, Which all conception far transcends, Of Him who, with love's arms extending, To wretched sinners condescends." The links of this heavenly chain are these: God's reconciliation of the whole world unto Himself through the vicarious sacrifice of His incarnate Son. The result: The message of the consummated reconciliation, – not a human message, but God's own, – proclaimed through the divinely ordained means of grace, the Gospel and the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper). Moreover, the divine operation of the Holy Ghost to produce and preserve faith in the hearts of men, by which they are established upon the impregnable rock of God's promises. "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee," Is. 54:10.
Note well Pieper's emphasis on "the divine operation of the Holy Ghost".  This emphasis is impugned by Martin Noland in his essay on Walther and prefers instead philosophical ideas such as "reliablism" and "reasonableness".
Now Pieper shows how this chain can easily be weakened to nothing...  here is how it is done (pgs 287-288):
     But, alas, men have conceived the idea that they can improve the divine chain of grace by adding to it man's own good conduct. But what is the value of this good conduct with respect to the Gospel? How many pounds' weight can it bear? Neither ten pounds nor a single pound nor a thousandth part of a pound. And why not? There is no such thing as upright human conduct with respect to the Gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel. That is mere fiction. Holy Scripture teaches the very opposite when it declares: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto Him; neither can he know them," 1 Cor. 2: 14. Christ Crucified, that is to say, the opening of heaven through Christ Crucified, is to "the Jews a stumblingblock and to the Greeks foolishness," 1 Cor. 1: 23. According to these words there is not a single man whose conduct is truly good with reference to the grace of God which Christ has obtained and which is now offered to men in the means of grace.
     Now, if this figment of human reason is woven into the heavenly chain, then the message which we preach must be: Divine grace indeed exists, but only for those who can give evidence of their right conduct; God is indeed merciful, but only toward those who freely decide for themselves to accept His grace; the Son of Man indeed came to seek and to save that which was lost, but this is conditioned upon the upright behavior of those who are lost. The Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper are indeed means ordained by God to appropriate the forgiveness of sins, but these are dependent on man's good conduct.
     In this way man's proper attitude, by which God's heavenly chain is to be improved and strengthened, looms up as a monster between the gracious God and all poor sinners and actually brushes aside the one Mediator between God and men, who has given Himself for the redemption of all. It is for this reason that Luther uttered his cry of agony: "You have seized me by the throat! You want to choke me!" when Erasmus urged him to infuse into the divine chain the right conduct of man, or man's ability to apply himself to divine grace, his facultas applicandi se ad gratiam.
The world likes to talk and be entertained by the idea of "monsters" – monster trucks, monster drinks, monster movies, etc.  But the monster that Pieper identifies is a very real monster, one that keeps man from The Open Heaven.  But Pieper is standing in the way, saying Nein, Nein, no, no! Don't listen to this monster, stay with the Grace of God in Christ!

In the next installment Part 11 of this series, Pieper speaks about the man who got those doors to Heaven open again by clearing away all these false teachings, The American Luther! ... and a warning.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 9 (Walther battles Am. Lutherans)

In Part 8 (Table of Contents in Part 1) of this series, Pieper recounts the great battle where Walther defended the attacks of a German Reformed teacher against the Lutheran Church.  But now it was teachers within the Lutheran Church in America who had to be faced.  Pieper introduces the participants in this battle (page 283):
     About eight years after this Reformed attack on the doctrines of God's universal grace had been repulsed, there followed a public assault upon the doctrine of "grace alone." As already stated, this assault was made by Lutheran theologians in our own country and was carried on with a vehemence heretofore unknown.
     In oft-repeated statements it was contended – and represented as Lutheran doctrine – that man's conversion and salvation depend on his right conduct, namely, on his self-determination for, and willing acceptance of, divine grace. In short, man's eternal destiny, so it was said, is rooted in his own free will; for it is entirely a matter of man's own choice as to whether he wishes God to have compassion on him or not. (Cf. Monatshefte, 1872, pp. 87. 88.)
     The additional charge was made that the Missouri Synod, which refused to accept this doctrine as truly Lutheran, had become Calvinistic, that is, it had fallen away from the doctrine of universal grace, just as Luther had denied universal grace until about the year 1527, especially in his book against Erasmus. (Monatshefte, 1872, p. 21.)
The charges in the journal Monatshefte were from Professor G. Fritschel of the old Iowa Synod, a forerunner of today's ELCA.  One has to almost laugh when someone charged the old (German) Missouri Synod of "Calvinism".  Even more serious is the idea that Luther denied universal grace until the year 1527.
Pieper recounts how Walther battled this pernicious error (page 283):
Dr. Walther made a detailed reply to this attack upon the sola gratia from within the Lutheran ranks in Vol. XVIII of Lehre and Wehre (1872), in an article entitled "Is It Really True Lutheran Doctrine that Man's Salvation in the Last Analysis Depends on His Own Free Decision?"  ... It shows most convincingly that according to the doctrine of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions man's conversion and salva­tion depend on God's grace, not only in part nor only for the greatest part, but wholly. He shows also that the contrary opinion, according to which God's counsel of grace and His compassion on man are conditioned upon man's good conduct, reduces the doctrine of God's grace in Christ to an empty phrase, so that it "goes up in smoke," thus closing to man the heaven that Christ has opened. (Lehre and Wehre, 1872, pp. 322ff. 329.)
But Pieper shows how Walther, Martin Chemnitz and the Lutheran Formula of Concord also bear witness to the distinction between true Lutheran doctrine and Rome (pgs 284-285):
     In the same volume of Lehre and Wehre Dr. Walther writes: "A theology which changes faith into a work of man and seeks to show that the reason why certain men are saved while others are lost is to be found in man's own free decision or in his conduct or in his cooperation is distinguished from the papistical doctrine of justification only as to its terminology," that is, not actually, but only nominally. (1872, p. 352.)
     As Dr. Walther, sixty-seven years ago, declared every theology to be papistical which makes man's salvation dependent on his good conduct, so Martin Chemnitz, the chief author of the Formula of Concord, also maintained this three hundred and fifty-one years ago at the Colloquy of Herzberg. The Formula of Concord, which teaches that those who are saved must plead guilty of the same evil conduct as those who are lost, since otherwise the Christian doctrine of grace would be discarded, was completed as early as 1577. However, at the Colloquy of Herzberg in August, 1578, the delegate of Anhalt asserted that he wished to adhere to the view that the difference in human conduct is the cause of conversion and salvation, just as the later Melanchthon had done. But Chemnitz countered with this reproof: "Then send your confession concerning the free will to Andradius in Spain or to Tiletanus in Louvain; indeed, send it to Rome, so that the Pope himself may give his approval to it."
 Now Pieper holds up the real champion of Christianity of "modern" times ... C.F.W. Walther!  It was C.F.W. Walther, through whom God brought back the Church from the devil's onslaughts (pgs 285-286):
     Now, God in His infinite grace has led the Lutheran Church in America back to the doctrine of the Church of the Reformation: but He has at the same time entrusted it with the duty to resist every "counter reformation," that is, every return to the camp of Romanism, which has cropped out in our country under the Lutheran label and still wields its influence.  Walther was right indeed when he said that every theology which seeks the reason why certain men are saved while others are lost in their own free choice or in their conduct or in their cooperation differs from the papistical doctrine of justification only in its terminology. Hence the actual result of this theology, reduced to practise, can only be Romanistic, that is, it can cause only doubt and despair with regard to divine grace and in that way closes the portals of heaven.
Unlike his colleague Professor Eduard Preuss who had "abrasive and uncharitable polemics" (and left the Lutheranism to become Catholic), Walther was not this way.  Pieper refers to both Walther and Luther on this this topic (pages 283-284):
     In spite of all this Dr. Walther was very careful, mild, and gracious in judging the actual personal convictions of his opponents. (L. c., p. 329.) He assumed the possibility, in a spirit of love, that his adversaries were traveling along their "dangerous path of error" against their own will and that, as far as they were Christians, they were really teaching doctrines which they themselves did not believe.
     Regarding this last statement it may be pointed out that Luther expressly states in his writings against Erasmus that even Christians are capable of such things. Erasmus had pointed out to Luther that "saints," that is, persons whose faith Luther did not deny, had attributed to man a free will in spiritual matters. Luther made this rejoinder: Those saints have indeed done this, but only inter disputandum, that is, while they were disputing among men. But when they approached God in prayer, they entirely (penitus) forgot about their free will in spiritual matters, despaired of their own righteousness, and besought for themselves "only the pure grace" of God, solam et puram gratiam. (St. L. Ed., XVIII, 1729.)
What a wonderful essay this is by Pieper!  If the reader wants to know Luther, Lutheranism, the Lutheran Confessions, Walther and indeed what Christianity is, then read this essay!  How Pieper poured his heart into this.

In the next installment of this series, Part 10, Pieper goes on to talk of The Chain of Salvation and how to keep it strong.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 8 (Walther battles Reformed)

Continued from Part 7.  (Table of Contents in Part 1)

Now that Pieper has proclaimed God's doctrine of The Open Heaven and showed how various groups have attempted to close it, he goes on to show that this doctrine needs to be defended (page 278):
In view of these conditions it is our manifest duty to maintain, by God's grace, in the face of all hazards and against all human strictures, both Scriptural truths – that divine grace is universal (universalis gratia) and that divine grace alone justifies and saves (sola gratia). 
"In the face of all hazards and against all human strictures" – Pieper knew the hazards and human strictures were manifold and powerful.  A witness to this is today's modern world which attacks the Christian faith continually from all sides, not just in the killing of Christians in Africa and the Mid-East by Muslims, but in our own backyard, in our homes, and in our hearts by those who would close the doors to The Open Heaven.

We see that Pieper taught this doctrine but he now shows the great champion of Christianity in recent times: C.F.W. Walther!  It was Walther who openly took to the battlefield against the errors from various groups.
The first battle that Pieper points out is against the Reformed (pages 279-280):
In 1863 the Reformed theologian Emil Wilhelm Krummacher, licentiate of sacred theology, published an article in the Calvinistic Kirchenzeitung of Erlangen entitled "Why Are We Reformed and Not Lutheran?" German Reformed periodicals in the United States reprinted and disseminated this article of Dr. Krummacher for anti-Lutheran propaganda purposes, in the interest of Calvinism. In reply to this assault there appeared in Vol. IX of Lehre and Wehre (1863) an article by Dr. Walther under the heading "A Few Remarks on a New Apology of the Reformed Church," which extended through four numbers (September to December). I may say that it is an exceptionally thorough refutation of all the Reformed errors that are taught in opposition to the Lutheran doctrine.
Krummacher is noted in the Wikipedia article for writing favorably about Luther but he remained Reformed in doctrine.  So it appears there would be similarities between him and James Swan of today who holds up Luther in certain ways in his Beggars All blog yet remains Reformed in his doctrine.  So what is it about the Reformed that Walther battled for the true Christian faith? (quoting Pieper page 280):
The doctrines of conversion and predestination, of course, are given due attention in this analysis of the Reformed principles. In the skirmish with this Reformed licentiate, who sought to invade and sequester the Lutheran camp, Walther emphasized two doctrines in particular as distinctively Lutheran: the unrestricted universal grace (universalis gratia) and the unqualified "grace alone" (sola gratia).
Why would the Reformed licentiate attempt to invade and sequester the Lutheran camp?  Because it is the Lutheran Church from above that Satan is tireless in attacking.  Pieper goes on to expand on the specifics of Walther's defense of the Christian faith (pgs 280-282)
    Why was it necessary to lay particular stress upon these two doctrines? For this reason: Ever since the Fall, man is an odd creature indeed; for even though he knows that there is a God, he refuses to believe His revealed Word. Now, as we have again convinced ourselves at these sessions, God's Word teaches both the universalis gratia and the sola gratia. However, supercilious man deems it intolerable that he be required to believe both these doctrines, and for that reason he indignantly rejects both of them.
    The Calvinists assume the liberty of making this conclusion: If we must believe that God saves men by grace alone, then we are forced to discard the doctrine that God really desires to save all men; for human logic cannot concede both facts. The Arminians and synergistic Lutherans, on the other hand, draw this inference: If we must believe that grace is universal, then we are compelled to surrender the doctrine of grace alone; then indeed we are forced to reach that man's conversion and salvation does not depend solely on God's grace, but also on the attitude man takes toward the Gospel, or on his facultas applicandi se ail gratiam.
   Dr. Walther inveighs against both these false deductions in his article against Krummacher and proves that the Lutheran Church in its Confessions believes God's Word absolutely, that is, it retains both doctrines side by side: universal grace and grace alone. He contends that it is but a seeming contradiction which our limited human reason here finds and that the difficulty will be solved in the light of glory. He argues that God's Word does not go beyond Hos. 13. 9: "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thine help."
    Among other things, Dr. Walther declares: "The Calvinists draw the conclusion: If God out of pure grace has elected a certain number of men and Himself performs everything by which they are converted and preserved in faith and finally saved, man himself being altogether unable to contribute even the least part, it follows that, since all men by nature are in the same condemnation, God alone is responsible for the fact that the others do not come to faith or do not remain in faith and hence are damned instead of being saved. . . . And it is indeed true that unenlightened reason, or reason which is not subject to God's Word, cannot think otherwise: it must needs draw this conclusion if it refuses to consult Scripture and follows its own dictates.
"However, neither our esteemed Formula of Concord nor the entire orthodox Lutheran Church reasons this way. True Lutheranism never draws such a conclusion, but declares: If men are saved, this is due to God's free grace alone; but if men are lost, this is caused solely by their own sin and guilt. . . . Both these truths are taught in God's Word, namely, that God has predestinated the elect from all eternity according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, and that the lost are condemned solely on account of their own guilt and sin, for God desires the salvation of all. Hence the Formula of Concord believes, teaches. and confesses both doctrines and, unlike Calvinism, does not stretch a rationalistic bridge across the yawning abyss of this unfathomable mystery, but allows both to remain: in true humility it bows before God's unsearchable wisdom and awaits the solution of the apparent contradiction in the life to come." (Lehre and Wehre, IX, p. 298f.)
    This article by Dr. Walther points out in particular also this paramount truth, that whoever has not yet learned to maintain both doctrines side by side, without qualifications, namely, the doctrines of universalis gratia and sola gratia, has not yet passed the final test of his ability to teach in the Christian Church. (L. c., p. 297.) Every man whose conscience has been assailed by the damning verdict of the divine Law needs both these doctrines in order to be rescued from despair, as has been pointed out in greater detail in the second part of this treatise.
There are a lot of teachers in the Christian Church today, but almost none have passed "the final test".  

A modern day example of the Reformed teachings and polemics is James Swan's essay about "Assurance of Salvation, Roman Catholicism, and Calvinism".  In this essay he defends against the doctrines of Romanism and Arminianism, but from the standpoint of Calvinism.  After refuting the errors of Rome and Arminianism like he is a Lutheran, he then attempts to offer a teaching on the assurance of salvation that does not hold water in the mind of the terrified conscience that can hear only the Calvinist teaching that denies universal grace.  I had that terrified conscience... I am the one who did not believe that I was in Calvin's 20% saved class.  It took God's Word in John 3:16 and Walther driving home the universality of God's grace to put Heaven in my lap!

Beware! beware of Reformed teachers who hold up Luther and yet tenaciously hold to either error of giving up universal grace or grace alone!  This is why the Reformed like to call themselves "Protestant", but the truth is that the true Protestants were strictly Lutherans!  They were the ones who protested Emperor Charles attempts to force the Lutherans to go back to the Roman Catholic Church.  All the Reformed are sects of those true Protestants who held strictly to the Word of God and did not waiver.
That is why we have to go
Back to Pieper
Back to Walther
Back To Luther

In the next post Part 9, Walther battles against erring Lutherans in America.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 7 (American Lutheran closers)

In Part 6 (Table of Contents in Part 1), Pieper reveals "the most deplorable event in modern history", Lutherans who deny "by grace alone" or sola gratia.  After covering the error of Melanchthon and 19th century German theologians, he moves on to his last group (pgs 276-277):
Also within the Lutheran Church of America Luther's sola-gratia doctrine has been vigorously disputed and disavowed. The Lutheran theologians here have gone much farther than simply to declare that man's conversion and salvation depend also on his right conduct; they have actually asserted that any one who does not espouse this synergistic view, but ascribes man's conversion and salvation solely to divine grace, subverts the foundation of the Christian religion and must therefore he regarded as a false prophet, a wolf in sheep's clothing, a Calvinist, and the like. ... But all those in our country who thus so strenuously oppose the Scriptural doctrine of conversion and election really set themselves in front of the open gate of heaven with the arrogant demand which we may correctly render thus: "No admittance except on good behavior." Of course, they added to their claim the qualification that they did not imply right conduct in the absolute, but only in a relative sense; that is, those who would be saved must show a lesser degree of resistance and of guilt as compared with those who are not converted and saved. But if we argue after this fashion, it becomes all the more obvious that we close heaven: for with our comparatively better conduct and our comparatively smaller guilt we join the ancient order of Pharisees, who return to their houses without being justified, Luke 18: 14, or to state it directly, as Pharisees we exclude ourselves from heaven.
Pieper then hammers home the account of the Pharisee in the Temple from Luke 18:11.  Then he slams it home again with Luther's take on this subject:

Luther, when speaking of this "comparatively better conduct" of men, uses very strong language, language that is apt to grate somewhat harshly upon our refined ears. He calls it an "insidious" and "horrible fraud" of Satan whenever a person exalts himself in the sight of God even over a harlot. His exact words are: "God forbids you to exalt yourself even over a prostitute, though you were Abraham, David, Peter, or Paul." (St. L. Ed., XI, 515.)
That illustrious oracle of scientific theology at Luther's time Erasmus of Rotterdam tried to persuade Luther in his diatribe Concerning the Free Will, published in 1524, not to ascribe salvation entirely to divine grace, but to accept a compromise and to recognize in the divine plan of salvation not only God's grace, but also man's own good conduct, or the so-called "faculty of applying oneself to divine grace"... But in his treatise of refutation, Concerning the Enslaved Will (De Servo Arbitrio), Luther replied: "Iugulum petisti," that is, "You have seized me by the throat," (Cf. Opp. v. a., St. L. Ed., VII, 367. ) Luther meant to tell Erasmus: "All you want is to deprive me of the fundamental doctrine of salvation by grace alone, and by your error you aim to close for me the heaven which Christ has opened."
Dear Christian!  Don't let any teaching close The Open Heaven for you!  There is nothing we can do to earn Heaven, no comparatively better conduct or good behavior that can save us.  How this goes against our nature for our old nature screams "look at me God", I've done this or that good thing or at least I'm not as bad as so-and-so.  No!  It is only and alone by God's free grace.

Pieper finishes this section with hymn verses that included this familiar one, a striking one for me:
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Why is this familiar hymn striking for me?  Because it is the hymn sung during Billy Graham's televised crusades, at the end where the audience was bid to "accept Christ" or "make a decision for Christ".  This hymn verse shows how synergistic preaching or "decision theology" has to forget itself and bow to pure grace alone.  My mother, who was a strong follower of Walter A. Maier and The Lutheran Hour radio program, would not miss any of Graham's television broadcasts.  But Graham's decision theology was not Lutheran and confused my Christian faith in my youth.

Who were these Lutherans in America who were confused on the doctrine of "by grace alone" or sola gratia?  The Ohio and Iowa Synods, the forerunners of the ALC and LCA synods which were the forerunners of today's ELCA.  So instead of Prof. David Scaer's reason for the downfall of the ELCA which is the Law, it is rather Pieper's reason: the fall on the Doctrine of Grace.  And this shows the continuing fallout of Pieper's "deplorable event" in all of modern history – the Downfall of the LC-MS.

Pieper goes on in his essay The Open Heaven to continue to drive this last point home – how the doctrine of sola gratia is to be defended, in my next post Part 8.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 6 ("Lutheran" deniers)

In Part 5 (Table of Contents in Part 1), Pieper introduced this topic of those groups who close the doors of Heaven by denying "by grace alone" or sola gratia. The first 2 groups, Roman Catholics and Arminians, were fairly predictable.  But now he goes on to a religious group that even Wikipedia does not include in this category in their comparison chart of religious denominations – "Lutherans". (pages 273-274):
But now we arrive at the most deplorable event in modern history, secular as well as ecclesiastical. By means of Luther's Reformation, God restored to His Church the heaven which Christ has opened for all men, but which had so long been bolted against all poor sinners by the papal doctrine of work-righteousness.
Do you hear that, modern historians?  Pieper is going to tell you what "the most deplorable event in modern history" is.  But it won't be what you say it is, because you don't know what true theology is.  But Pieper does, and so we get pure Historical Theology from him.
And what is this "deplorable event"?  It is that some theologians who call themselves Lutheran actually deny what Luther's Reformation was based on.  Pieper breaks these down into 3 chronological groups:

1) Melanchthon (page 275)
After Luther's death († 1546) there appeared the first Lutheran to deny The Open Heaven:
It cannot be denied that this "scandal" originated in the very heart of the Lutheran Church, even during Luther's lifetime, and that after his death it boldly raised its head in Luther's own city of Wittenberg. Melanchthon, who in the beginning had been a loyal and devoted colleague of Luther, in the course of time espoused the doctrine, and gained adherents for it, that the Holy Spirit and the gracious operation of the Gospel are not sufficient to convert a sinner to God, but that there must be a third cause of conversion and salvation, namely, man's own assenting will, which "applies itself to divine grace".
However the true Lutherans, especially Martin Chemnitz, overturned this error in the Formula of Concord.

2) German theologians of 19th century
Then again in the land of Luther, Germany, there appeared again this error (pgs 275-276):
The offense cropped up time and again within the Lutheran Church during the succeeding centuries. The German theologians of the nineteenth century who are generally regarded as the exponents of Lutheran theology have renounced almost completely the sola gratia doctrine of Luther and of the confessional Lutheran Church and have adopted the synergistic views which Melanchthon propounded in his later years. ... The neo-Lutheran school of theologians in Germany champions this synergistic doctrine almost to a man.
So much attention has been given to German philosophers, thinkers and theologians of recent centuries.  It seems the world can't get enough of them and their ideas.  But unfortunately!  their ideas were largely their own, especially on theology.  Pieper is still right...  Germany's theologians were leading Christianity away from its true teachings.

So Pieper thus far has taken us from Luther's times to the 19th century with his first 2 groups of "Lutherans" that deny sola gratia.  So now he goes on to the third group which is probably one that he wanted to highlight the most since I suspect this is what he worried about the most for his beloved Missouri Synod.  This third group?  In my next post Part 7 – the Lutheran Church of America.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 5 (Deniers of Grace Alone)

In Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1), Pieper points out how Calvinists close the doors of Heaven by deny universal grace, but now he goes on to a much larger kettle of fish – those who deny Grace Alone (sola gratia)(page 272):
However, the wretched business of closing heaven is carried on in even wider circles. Heaven is actually closed to the sinner by all those who teach that, while divine grace has been secured by Christ for all men, yet this grace, proclaimed and proffered in the Gospel, together with the gracious operation of the Holy Ghost which produces faith in this Gospel, is not sufficient to insure heaven, since salvation must be earned in part by man's own works, efforts, and merits.
Pieper goes on to name 3 groups who close Heaven by deny the doctrine of sola gratia or by Grace Alone.  The first 2 are:
1) Roman Catholic Church 
This is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church erects a barrier in front of the gate of heaven opened by Christ's perfect atonement by demanding that all who want to enter that gate must first give proof of their fulfilment of the "Law of God and the commandments of the Church." This false doctrine is expressly taught in the chief confession of the Roman Catholic Church, the Decrees of the Council of Trent. (Cf. Sessio VI, Can. 20.) Rome even goes so far as to anathematize all who put their trust solely in the mercy of God according to which He forgives all sins for Christ's sake. (Can. 12 and elsewhere.) Scripture, however, decrees in unmistakable terms that this mandate excludes men from heaven: "Christ is become of no effect unto you whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace." Gal. 5: 4; and again: "As many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse," Gal. 3: 10.
2) Arminians
... the Arminians ... insist that God's grace in Christ is not sufficient to convert and save the sinner; for man himself must cooperate in his conversion by means of those spiritual powers which he has retained even after the Fall. The specific error of Arminianism is that divine grace cannot exert its power without the cooperation of man's free will.
The Wikipedia article on Arminianism explains that Methodists, Congregationalists, and certain Baptists hold to this doctrine.  But their comparison chart of various "Protestant" denominations has an error on it and this error is covered by Pieper's presentation of the third group that denies "by Grace Alone" and it is a bit of a surprise.  I will cover them in Part 6"Lutheran" deniers of sola gratia.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 4 (Closed by Calvinists)

In Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), Pieper points out how Unitarians close the doors of Heaven, but he goes on to Calvinists who do the same thing (page 268):
Heaven is closed, moreover, by all those who teach that Christ secured grace and opened heaven for only a part of mankind. This error is championed by all Calvinists of olden and modern times, including those in our own country. John Calvin opined that God meant to save only about twenty per cent, of all men; the other eighty per cent. He directly created unto eternal damnation. (Cf. Institutiones, III, 24, 12; 21, 5.) ... In his controversial writings, directed against all proponents of universal grace (gratia universalis), he at times becomes quite caustic and brands their doctrine as "nonsensical and childish beyond measure." (Cf. III, 23, 1. )
Now Pieper presents the counterpoint that Holy Scripture states (page 269):
Calvinistic exegetes thus presume to delete from Scripture such clear statements as these: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself"; "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son"; "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"; "Christ is the Propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Cf. 2 Cor. 5:19; John 3:16; 1:29; 1 John 2:2.
No theologian since Franz Pieper used the passage of John 3:16 more purely than he did.  And the result of Calvin's teaching?
But the situation becomes quite different as soon as man is terrified by the divine Law, that is, as soon as He experiences in His heart and conscience the verdict of God's condemnation. In that case he quite logically numbers himself among the eighty per cent whom Christ did not redeem with His blood. The result is that he will perish in despair unless he is directed to the central doctrine of Christianity, that God was in Christ, reconciling unto Himself the whole world, not a single man excepted.
I am that man... the one who was terrified by God... the one who would assume that Calvin was right and that I was probably in the 80% group that Christ did not redeem.  After all, I had rejected God, turned away from Him.  Surely I would be the last one he would accept.  But praise God!... the teaching of Scripture came back to me through the crystal clear teaching of the true Lutheran Church, through the writings of the fathers of the old (German) Missouri Synod!  It did not make any difference who I was or how bad I was because Christ redeemed the whole world!  Calvinism was completely wrong on this doctrine.

Pieper goes on to show that, like Unitarians, Calvinists must deny one of its basic teachings to enter The Open Heaven:
... if a Calvinist, in his tribulations and in his terrors at the prospect of death, wants to escape endless despair and damnation, he must become a Lutheran, that is, he must believe God's unlimited universal grace.
Now Pieper goes after bigger fish in his hunt for those who would close The Open Heaven – those who deny Grace Alone (sola gratia), Part 5.

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 3 (Closed by Unitarians)

In Part 2 of this blog series (Table of Contents in Part 1), Franz Pieper showed how the doctrine of The Open Heaven gives the correct world-view.
But now in Part 3, he begins to show how various groups close Heaven.  He prefaces with these comments (page 264):
But now the question confronts us, Why is it that not all men actually enter heaven? This leads us to discuss a subject that is tragic indeed - the melancholy fact that men reject the heaven which Christ has opened unto them and thus lock themselves out of it. ... Hence we must beware of all those who want to shut the open heaven.  That is the purpose of this rather depressing discussion, which we might entitle "The Closing of Heaven."
Depressing indeed!  But who would close the doors of Heaven?  Pieper describes his first group:
Heaven is being closed most flagrantly by the Unitarians and by all those religious denominations and bodies which deny that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. The Unitarians reject the eternal, essential deity of Christ and as a logical consequence also the reconciliation of the world through Christ's vicarious satisfaction, or atonement (satisfactio vicaria).
How further do these Unitarians perversely rail against God's doctrine?
They declare that the Christian doctrine that God has reconciled the world unto Himself and thus opened heaven to all men through Christ's vicarious suffering and death is both superfluous and morally perversive. Accordingly, they – together with the Unitarian lodges – even challenge all Christians to kneel with the Jews, Buddhists, Confucianists, and other representatives of pagan religions "before a common altar."
An interesting comment indeed since the leadership of the LC-MS in recent years did just that – "...offering prayers along with assorted Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist clergy,"  Hmmm... either Pieper is completely off base, or... Heaven Is Open for all through Christ, the Saviour of the World from sin and spiritual death.
But now Pieper cites a surprising case – a noted Unitarian teacher denying his erroneous doctrine.  Pieper writes pages 267-268):
We know of a number of professed Unitarians who during their entire lifetime opposed the vicarious atonement of Christ, yet sought refuge in that doctrine when they were about to die. In our own United States, Horace Bushnell († 1876) repudiated the vicarious sacrifice of Christ as long as he lived; but in the hour of death he declared. as reported by L. W. Munhall: "I fear what I have written and said upon the moral idea of the atonement is misleading and will do great harm. O Lord Jesus, I trust for mercy only in the shed blood that Thou didst offer on Calvary." (Cf. Strong. Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 739-740.) ... we find the confession of Unitarians themselves that there is an open heaven only by virtue of Christ's vicarious atonement and that all those lock themselves out of heaven who disown this vicarious sacrifice and prefer to blaze their own trail to salvation by their merits and works.
Who else wants to close the doors of The Open Heaven?  See my next post Part 4 - Calvinists.

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 2 (correct world-view)

In Part 1 of this blog series (Table of Contents in Part 1), Franz Pieper laid down the foundation for The Open Heaven.  He then built on that foundation for following point (page 262):
Nowadays men often speak of the correct world-view. But everything that the children of this world include under the vast concept world-view is paltry indeed. We possess the true world-view only when we know and maintain that through the reconciliation effected by Christ, heaven is open to all men. We know this to be true because Christ teaches us that the world exists only in order that the fact of His atonement may be proclaimed to all men. "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come." Matt. 24: 14.
So the true Christians, those who "know and maintain that through the reconciliation effected by Christ, heaven is open to all men", are the only true judges of the world, for
...the saints shall judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2)
Now there is no shortage of people and organizations that think they can judge the world.  Many publish the events in the world and their judgments of these.
One example of this is World magazine, a publication founded by conservative Presbyterians, that would call itself a Christian publication.  They lay some claim to Biblical authority.  It's basic foundation is Calvinism which denies that "heaven is open to all men".  (This error of Calvinism will be covered in a later post.)  So in spite of it's claims to Christianity, it holds to the error that God's grace is not universal.  And so it's world-view is not fully Christian.  One could go on to thousands of other examples, but the point is made.  The true world-view is completely bound to the true Christian doctrine.
So who can we turn to for a true world-view?  Who better than the 20th Century Luther, who published Christian commentaries of his world-view through several publications.  But some readers might object that Pieper died over 80 years ago († 1931) and a lot of world events have happened since then.  But spiritually speaking, Pieper is as fresh today as when his essays and articles were published from 1875 to 1931.  Why?  Because he believed God at His Word... and because he was a great Lutheran scholar and was knowledgeable of news of the world.  And so I will continue to present some of Pieper's world views in this blog as I can.
In the next Part 3, Pieper moves to discuss "The Closing of Heaven".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pieper: The Open Heaven, Part 1 of 12

After my previous series of posts on the depressing essays from Concordia Theological Seminary (5 of 7) that in various ways call into doubt the teaching of Walther (and Pieper), I need an antidote.  After looking around, I found it.  In a previous post, I highlighted the book What Is Christianity? And Other Essays by Franz Pieper published by Concordia Publishing House.  In that post, I highlighted the first essay What Is Christianity? but this time I would like to highlight the last essay, The Open Heaven.

Two years before he died, Pieper presented this essay to his beloved Missouri Synod, a synod that he knew was entering modern times with pressures to join with other Lutheran bodies outside the Synodical Conference.  He may have already known that certain members of his faculty at Concordia Seminary were drifting away from the pure Bible teaching, from the pure proclamation of the Doctrine of Justification.  So what did he do?  Did he come down hard with the hammer of the Law to keep his Synod on track?  Did he speak of a "christological" component in the Law like Professor David Scaer does? No, Pieper spoke of The Open Heaven... and who better than The 20th Century Luther to tell us about a Heaven that is open!
Pieper speaks thus:
On the basis of Holy Scripture we assert that this heaven is open to all men.... Yes, indeed, heaven is open! (page 257)
But he explains that it was re-opened because of man's fall into sin... all men:
By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation (Romans 5:18 - pg 257)
And he also explains that this re-opening cannot be done by man for
... by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16 - pg 258) 
So why was heaven re-opened?  It is because God did not reject mankind after the fall, but rather loved man.  And so
He made His eternal Son, God of God, Light of Light, to become incarnate, to assume the human nature... so that before the Father He might represent and plead the cause of the whole race of man.  He placed upon His incarnate Son the obligation to fulfil in man's place that divine Law which He had given to man. Galatians 4:4-5 (page 259)
Now Pieper gives the Bible verse from 2 Corinthians that is so hard for today's modern world:
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them 2 Corinthians 5:19. 
It was God who re-opened heaven, not man.  Then Pieper states (page 261):
It is God's will that this wondrous fact be proclaimed to the whole world, according to His command:
  • Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16: 15-16
Dear Christian! Get this book and read it carefully to have your Christian faith kindled and strengthened.  This book is easy to read, the English translation well done.
This essay of The Open Heaven is such a great synopsis of Pieper's major work Christian Dogmatics and it speaks to our world today so forcefully.  It is so good that I am doing a 12 part series of blogposts on it; here is a Table of Contents with links for each part:
Part 1 – The Open Heaven;      Part 2  correct world-view;           Part 3  Closed by Unitarians
Part 4  Closed by Calvinists;   Part 5  Deniers of Grace Alone;   Part 6  "Lutheran" deniers
Part 7  Am. Lutheran closers;  Part 8  Walther battles Reformed;  Part 9  Walther battles Am. Lutherans
Part 10  Chain of Salvation;   Part 11  "or else dust and ashes";   Part 12  Missions; conclusion
I am now making this one essay (of the 6 essays in this book) available for download here and I will continue my comments of it in my next post Part 2 (correct World-View).  Below

2 out of 7: LC-MS low score on Walther (Part 7 of 7 - Scaer)

This post (Part 7) concludes the series of commentaries on the 7 essays from the 2011 Concordia Theological Quarterly "celebrating" the Bicentennial of the birth of C.F.W. Walther.  See the table of contents for the full listing.

This essay presents the same old grind of "celebrating" Walther's Bicentennial when actually they are an affront to Walther and his teaching.  Let me begin this commentary with quotes of words and phrases that Scaer uses in his essay:
  • "third use of the law"
  • "antinomianism"
  • "Gospel reductionism"
  • "the law's positive aspect" in providing specific guidance in how Christians are to live
  • "ethical matters"
  • "compromise the law"
  • "serious attention ... to defining the law"
  • "the paradise understanding of the law reemerges"
Scaer laments what is going on in the world today and particularly in the ELCA, with its ordination of women and homosexual pastors.  But then he makes a striking statement (page 335):
... the law-gospel paradigm as articulated by Walther ... (did) support these practices.
Scaer essentially blames Walther's teaching of the "law-gospel paradigm" for the ELCA's ordination of women and pastors!  Wow, what a "celebration" of Walther's teaching!
Scaer ends his essay with the following:
(page 341-342) Recent ELCA decisions [homosexuality, women pastors and "contemporary issues"] can be seen as offenses in the light of natural law and specific biblical prohibitions, but ultimately must be seen as offenses against Christ.  Again, this leads to the conclusion that the most significant deficit in Lutheran definitions of the third use of the law is the christological component. Current crises bring up the question whether the gospel is God's last word.  Yes, perhaps in the sense that what Christ has done comes alive in the lives of Christians. Consider these words of Jesus,  "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). That's gospel and the third use altogether.  Now, I am not so sure that the first and third uses of the law produce the same ex­ternal results.  At the end time the first and second uses of the law will pass away and only the third will remain. Maybe this is what Paul meant: "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). 
This writing is a most confusing exposition of Law and Gospel.  Scaer attempts to hide his focus on the Law by pointing out the error of the Reformed which is to use the Law to produce good works.  But he repeatedly goes back to the Law and what he calls its "christological component".  But the Bible clearly says
John 1:17 – For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
As a contrast to Scaer's focus on the Law and ethical matters, here is Franz Pieper's teaching on the use of the Law in his Christian Dogmatics (volume 3, page 237-238):
The Formula of Concord states this truth repeatedly and lucidly. It says: If the Christians had only their new man, "they would do of themselves, and altogether voluntarily, without any instruction, admonition, urging or driving of the Law, what they are in duty bound to do according to God's will; ... But the Christian, considered in concreto, as he exists in this world, is not yet entirely a new man; he still has the old man dwelling in him. And in this respect, according to his old man, the Christian still needs the Law in all its uses, no matter how these uses are divided or designated.  ... Luther answers : "According to the spirit the believer is righteous, without any sin, has need of no law whatever; according to his flesh he still has sin.... There all manner of filth still clings to him, and evil concupiscence, worry about his daily bread, fear of death, avarice, anger, hatred; the filth always remains beside his faith, for him to contend with it and sweep it out. Now, because this is still in us, Scripture in this respect rates us as of a kind with the unrighteous and sinners, so that according to our flesh we need the Law as much as do they." (St. L. IX:881, not in Am. Ed.)
Scaer wants to make a show of the different uses of the Law (or third use of the Law), but not Pieper (or Luther).  Why is that?  It is because he is a teacher of the heterodox LCMS that is hesitant in its teaching of the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification, or the Gospel.  He wants to blame the Gospel for the downfall of the ELCA.  But the real situation is quite the opposite for it was the new (English) LCMS that fell on this central doctrine and so left the predecessors of ELCA (Iowa and Ohio Synods) to fall further from the true Gospel.  And without the true Gospel, they joined hands with the Roman Catholic Church in their "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification".

Scaer dreams that he understands Historical Theology when he says (page 336-337):
...influences flowing from Missouri's Zion on the Missis­sippi could reverse course and flow north into ELCA seminaries. Well, according to Carl E. Braaten, this is what happened, and details are provided in his Because of Christ, Memoirs of a Lutheran Theologian. ...but in Braaten's opinion theological anti­nomianism was at work. "The theology that backed up the 'paradigm shift' at LSTC was antinomian or a close relative."  All this laid on the shoulders of former LCMS clergy who found their way into his church.
This is why today's (English) LCMS wants to be thought of as the true descendant of the old (German) Missouri Synod... so they can blame old Missouri's doctrines for the theological ills of our modern world.  Carl Braaten is correct in blaming the LCMS for the ills in the ELCA, but not for the reason he states.

No!  It is you, modern (English) LCMS, that is largely at fault for the fall of virtually all of external Christianity!  It is you that is at fault, not because of those who walked out of the LC-MS to form Seminex, but because of your loss of the Doctrine of Justification!  Jesus said
Matt 23:37 often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
No!  It was Walther's teaching of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel that upheld true Christian doctrine.  Today's LCMS is lost in its own "law-gospel paradigm".