Search This Blog

Thursday, August 9, 2012

German pastor in 1931: Back To Luther! Part 2

This continues Part 1 in which Franz Pieper introduces a rare pastor in Germany who speaks like the American old (German) Missouri Synod...  in 1931.

Franz Pieper goes on to continue his lengthy quote from the Preface of a new (in 1931) 6-volume publication of Luther's works in Germany.  It was Pastor Ernst Herrmann that President Franz Pieper wrote of and Pieper was anxious to bring his message to America:
     But we will bring the greater part of the "Preface" to follow here: "Luther is and remains the German prophet and the Christian world's greatest teacher since the days of the Apostles, and whoever does not know his message and does not listen to him, brings in more than he knows.  The times in which the church did not allow Luther's voice to be heard any more have not been its best. She became impoverished internally.  Not only did she lose the connection with her history and splintered in the hunting of human pursuits, but she also forgot the simple baselines of sober and true Christianity as they were drawn by Luther, and was tempted to all kinds of fanaticism. She took on a new form that may have been finer, yet it was a much more dangerous form of man's righteousness that Luther had conquered in his fight against the papal and monastic nature.
    "Thus the slogan for our present times must be taken seriously: Back to Luther!  We must read him again and learn to contemplate; not as if his writings were the Gospel itself, but because he teaches us to understand as no one else the gospel purely; not as if we had to acquire him sentence by sentence, but because since the time of the Apostles to this day no one knew how to say as simply and clearly what it is about Christ and his kingdom, about faith, repentance and love, about law and gospel, about vocation and good works, about church and world.
     "Back to Luther!" That is what to say to all those whose pious searching has never led them to the door of peace. They are searching in man's life and in his own soul, but can never find it there.  They are looking to redeem themselves by increasing their inner strength, through performance of a particular work ethos, perhaps even by their own creation of a Christian 'faith'; and with it they never come out of the internal lie and never hold firm for life and death.  In Luthers school', one learns to refrain from himself completely and rest on what is outside us.  Luther is found by us not on our own reason but by God's Word which is given to us in the Holy Scriptures; he points us instead of our own works and skills on God's mercy in Christ, so that we are assured in this word and promise; he shows us the gift of a lively and creative faith, that comes from that word to us and saves and renews us.  Just because he had been a seeker himself on the wrong track, this is why he is capable after he had been allowed to find another signpost that brings one to certainty and peace.  And because there is no other way even today, so also no other fulfilment is possible for the religious longing of the present time as it witnesses Luther's message of Christ.
     "Back to Luther!"  Our church has much to say of this slogan as a whole.  From the topsoil of the Reformation has arisen a (page 311) varied and diverse wealth of church establishments.  For as Luther and his followers proclaimed the freedom in Christ, they were averse to any external entity; they left with joy free space for every country and every nationality to make accordingly the religious life of their own kind.  The more they put all the emphasis on the internal unity of the faith; for their sake, they were willing to be pursued and be scorned by all those who pay homage to the spirit of the times.  If we go to school through Luther, also we must again learn better that external really means external, and to risk everything that we remain obedient in faith in Christ of the Scriptures so that our fellowship is a fellowship in spirit and our unity is a unity in truth.  But to do this means to turn from all mere religious activity and overestimation of the organizational, and to turn to the essentials, to Christ and his Word, and in addition there is no one better than Luther, whose message even still is just that necessary to reflection on.
     “It will be a vital question for our evangelical Christendom whether she wants to allow herself today that same spirit become strong again in her from whom she was born four centuries ago.  Only in this way will she defend herself against disunity, that she reflects on her history and becomes what she should be.  If she ignores what the Holy Spirit has worked up to now in her, she forgets under what slogan she has freed herself of the papacy and has separated against fanatics, so may she then look on what spirit is then alive in her and what slogan she then follows.  If the church wants to not allow itself to be cheated on the Gospel, it must get bright eyes again to see the essential things and to judge the spirits.  She will nowhere find a better guide in the Gospel than with the doctor of the Holy Scriptures Martin Luther.  With a unique emphasis he has repeatedly pointed to the one thing needful.  Therefore, he is now again given as the collecting point for all those who want to hear the Christ of Scripture.  Thereby we would like to help by adopting again with this choice of Luther's writings, that what is given us in Luther, the tool of God, does not remain lying unused and also thereby to honor God.  If they may open here and there someone's eyes to the depth and magnificence of the biblical, Reformation Gospel, they have fulfilled their purpose.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Could it be that Pastor Ernst Herrmann of Germany got hold of some of Walther's writings from America and took them to heart?  I wonder that it is so.  May these blog posts honor this German pastor for all time!
But Pastor Herrmann's voice in Germany was largely drowned out by its modern "great" theologians.  And the voice of Pieper went silent in 1931 when he died.  His synod had enough of him.... and all hell broke out.  Not in the way the world sees it in World War II, but in the fall of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  All things German are practically spit on today, including Luther, the German language, and the Fraktur font.  But they contain the greatest message since the days of the Apostles.
Back To Luther!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.