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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pieper & Luther: No public ministry now? Only fathers in homes? (Part 1)

In a previous post where I reviewed an essay by Prof. John T. Pless, I was a bit stunned when I quoted from Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics.  Pieper gives a true perspective on the doctrine of the Public Ministry where Pless goes astray.  How was I stunned?  When Pieper said this (Christian Dogmatics, volume 3, page 449):
There have been times – and such times may come again – when unbelief and false doctrine so overran external Christendom that orthodox Christians had to depend on the preaching of the Word in the homes
Pieper then backed up his statement with a quote of Luther:
It may happen that the world will become so utterly epicurean that we shall have no public ministry in all the world and the preaching will be solely epicurean outrage and that the Gospel will be preserved only in the homes by the fathers" (St. L. VI : 938).
This quote of Luther is from his exposition of the Book of Daniel, chapters 11 and 12 (St. Louis Edition, volume 6, pages 917 - 940) and pertains to verses Daniel 12:11-12. Although Luther's preface to Daniel is in the American Edition of Luther's Works (volume 35, pages 294-316), his exposition of Daniel 11 & 12 is not, nor will it be in the New Series to come.  (Regular readers may notice that Luther not only used the Book of Daniel for biblical chronology, but also for other teachings.)  I am presenting below a translation of the full paragraph of Luther's point, again from St. L. VI: 938-939:
But I would like to interpret the daily sacrifice there spiritually, that it was the Holy Gospel which must remain together with the faith and the Church to the end of the world.  Nevertheless, it may happen that the world will become so utterly epicurean that we shall have no public ministry in all the world and the preaching will be solely epicurean outrage and that the Gospel will be preserved only in the homes by the fathers; and this will be the time as was between the words of Christ on the cross: "It is finished" [John 19:30] and "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" [Luke 23:46].  For as Christ after such Consummatum lived a little, so the church can remain a little under public silence of the Gospel.  And as the Jews daily sacrifice was probably in the seventh week done away by the apostle council [Act 15], and yet [column 939] remained afterwards up to the destruction of Jerusalem and was also held by the apostles where they wanted (nevertheless, without need), so may well also the gospel be publicly silent in the pulpit, and yet be obtained by devout Christians in houses.
Wikipedia says of epicureanism that it "emphasizes the neutrality of the gods, that they do not interfere with human lives".  Such was the charge of Martin Luther against Erasmus of Rotterdam (see here).  Such has been my charge against today's (English) LC-MS.  Such is the result of preaching that does not have at it's heart the doctrine of UOJ (Universal, Objective Justification).

Then I, BackToLuther, stated in my blog:
These times are now.  I have found that unbelief and false doctrine have so overrun external Christendom... 
In my earlier blog post "Who Am I?", I stated that I was not attending any church now.  I have not attended a church for over 10 years.  But the decision to not attend any external fellowship was not an easy one.  There was Walther himself saying:
When a person does not desire to hear God’s Word, does not attend church, not even read the Scriptures, but rather pokes fun at divine matters,.... God cannot save him. (Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Convention Essays, CPH, 1981,  page 65)
But this quote from Walther clearly shows the other points Walther makes along with "does not attend church":
  • does not desire to hear God's Word
  • does not even read the Scriptures
  • pokes fun at divine matters
I searched diligently among the former Lutheran church bodies who were members of the old Synodical Conference to find one who not only seemed "conservative", but more importantly held up the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification – front and center – and was not the least afraid to proclaim it because it "made the listeners too secure".  But the message of the Gospel, as properly distinguished from the Law, is indeed a message "too good to be true", at least to man's way of thinking.

Indeed, Professor John T. Pless, the Public Ministry is important , but not more important than the pure teaching of the Gospel.  Without the pure preaching of the Gospel (i.e. Universal, Objective Justification), the  pulpit is "epicurean outrage".

In my next blog post, I will present Part 2 of this... where it applies to events of today... and Paul T. McCain.

- - - - - - - - -  Table of Contents  - - - - - - 
Because this series achieved several posts, I am including this TOC for ease of reference.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Paul T. McCain?
Part 3a – WELS – the case of a suspended pastor over the Doctrine of Justification
Part 3b – WELS – review of essays on Justification (UOJ)
Part 3c – WELS and Doctrine of Justification (and LC-MS) – conclusions and an appeal
Part 4 – Do I demand too much?
Part 5 – Parable of Talents (and Public Ministry)


  1. Like the statements from Martin Luther and Franz Pieper, C.F.W.Walther also stated in his "The Evangelical Lutheran Church the True Visible Church of God on Earth" (translated by Dr. Wm. Dallmann, in Walther and the Church, Dau, Engelder, Dallmann, CPH, St. Louis, 1938):

    "THESIS IX: Though according to the divine promises it is not possible for the one holy Christian Church ever to perish, it is yet possible, and at times it has really happened, that there did not exist a true VISIBLE Church in the absolute sense, in which through an uncorrupted public ministry the preaching of the pure Word of God and the administration of the unadulterated Sacraments held sway."

  2. "Carl Vehse":
    Thank you for that notice and quote from Walther.

    Perhaps you see why I call Franz Pieper – The Twentieth Century Luther.

    Perhaps you see why I call Franz Pieper – The Second Walther.

    But most important of all, perhaps you see why even a hesitancy in proclaiming "UOJ" (Universal Justification, Objective Justification) approaches "epicurean outrage". Perhaps you see that all 3 of these Christian teachers had at the h e a r t of all their teaching this doctrine.


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