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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Theologian vs. layman - no contest! (layman's language) Part 4

In the previous post Part 3, Pieper continued to expand on the subject of "scientific" theology in his powerful article, Foreword to the 1888 Lehre und Wehre, journal of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  (See Table of Contents with all downloads in Part 1).  Pieper was angry, angry over German theologian Albrecht Ritschl, who presumed to be master over a simple layman saying this layman (von Klencke) had "bottomless presumption" to judge him by calling out against his false doctrine.

In this Part 4, I continue translating Pieper's L.u.W. article (pages 5-6) as he emphasizes the importance of clear, understandable language:

(continued from Part 3)
            But one more thing! Is not the way of treatment of Christian doctrine on the part of theologians often one which the control of Christians deprives their work?  They speak – the theologians – not often a language that the "laity" either do not or only partially understand?  Unfortunately that is the case, and especially by the "scientific" theologians of our time.  But it should not be that way.  It is not befitting a theologian who is out in front of the Church, to talk the language of scholars.  Among the theologians may nevertheless speak so that others do not understand, although one in terms of modern, abstract-philosophical and in it's character vague theologian language must consider it better, even if the theologians among themselves strive more for the layman's language.  And this for two reasons.  Once, so that they better understand themselves and, second, that they may be better understood by their guild members.  The abstract philosophical language too often obscured the wretchedness and confusion of modern theologian's own thoughts and also gave reason that other "personalities professionally concerned with the science" not understand him.  However, now we refrain from it.  In any case, the theologian, if he goes in front of the church and wants to teach Christians, has to speak a language understandable to Christians.  If he does not want this, it is an insult and contempt of the Church, the bride Christ; and the church should not hear such a "theologian".  He may select to himself another field of the activity where it brings less damage if confusion is caused by high, incomprehensible words.  [page 6] Christians have a right according to God's Word to demand that those who want to teach them to do so in a way that is understandable to them
(continued in Part 5)
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Do we hear Pieper?  He says we are to demand of all our teachers to use an understandable language, one without confusion for anyone.  Pieper's article itself is quite clear, no confusion, therefore we should
listen to Franz Pieper (The Twentieth Century Luther and The Second Walther).
If you really want to have your fill of clear, comprehensible language of pure Christian teaching, then buy Pieper's full 4-volume set of his Christian Dogmatics books.  Even though Professor Pieper uses Hebrew, Greek and Latin phrases on occasion, yet his explanations are so comprehensible, that his meaning is fully understood.  But even the Latin phrases are easily translated by Google Translate, one of the true gifts of God (not psychology or sociology).  For the record, I only understand English.

In the next Part 5, Pieper concludes his 1888 Foreword article... and adds his warning.

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