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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pieper: Liberal vs "Positive" Theology? neither -> Confessions

Our "modern" world is so steeped in its own ideas of theology.  It seems whole libraries have been written on "theology".  Franz Pieper commented in May 1930 on these "theologies" in the following article about a German newspaper finding (CTM, vol. 1, pg 388):
Where the great need of Germany lies.  We read in the "German Teachers' Journal": "Without a doubt serious moral hazards lie in the industrialization of the masses; but we see the cause of our religious national emergency in the influences of theological liberalism dominated by the modern human spirit, which extends stones instead of bread to the people. Where God's Word is proclaimed loud and clear, it proves itself even today a divine force that brings salvation unto to every one that believeth."  This is an absolutely appropriate judgment.  “Theological liberalism” is maintained not only by the normally so-called “liberal theologians”, but also by the theologians going under the Lutheran name who deny the infallible divine authority of the Scripture and base man's conversion and salvation not only on God's mercy, but also on man's good behavior.  Ever has emerged in our time a misleading theological parlance.  We distinguish between "liberal" and "positive" theologians in the sense that we call those "liberal" who avowedly want to make the Christian religion a product of human reason, while those theologians who still want to retain parts of the Christian religion, the title attribute of "positive".  But this title comes properly speaking only to those who remain in all respects with what is set once and for all in Scripture.  Whoever is allowed deductions from it, carries no more "positive", but negative theology.  The same is true of the term "confessional theology".  Confessional Lutheran theologians are just that in their theology.  Knowledge is encouraged to the extent that they have recognized the doctrine of the Lutheran Confessions as scriptural and are able to teach effectively.    F. P.
Pieper picked up on the term theological liberalism coming from Germany.  He had been fighting this onslaught against Christianity for his whole life.  But Pieper knew how the devil works and so he commented on those who proposed to fight against "Liberal Theology" with half-truths and called it "positive" theology.  Today most theologians and commentators are falsely labeled with labels like those Pieper points out:
  • "positive" theology (not really positive)
  • "confessional" theology (but not teaching Confessions as scriptural)
  • Neo-orthodoxy (but not orthodox; neither is there new true orthodoxy – Scripture never changes)
  • Dialectical theology (supposedly like "neo-orthodoxy")
  • etc., etc, etc. (whatever modern theology dreams up)
Yes, Dr. Pieper, "Ever has emerged in our time a misleading theological parlance."
Dear reader, listen to the President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (in 1930).

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