Search This Blog

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.