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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.

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