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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!

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