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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.

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