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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

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