Search This Blog

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Theologian vs. layman - no contest! (Pieper and Luther) Part 1

    In the year that followed the death of C.F.W. Walther († 1887), the young Franz Pieper, now the new head of Concordia Seminary–St. Louis, was busy strengthening his brethren in the faith.  He showed that he was a worthy successor to Walther when he wrote the Foreword to Lehre und Wehre, volume 34 (January 1888), pgs 1 - 6.  (Download the German text (doc file) here; download my English translation (doc file) here; PDF English here.)
    In this article, he addresses the outrageous false doctrines coming from well known German theologians, specifically at that time Albrecht Ritschl († 1889).  Pieper reports some of these errors:
Professor Ritschl denies the doctrine of Original Sin, of the Reconciliation, and the true presence of the body and blood of Christ in Communion. 
Why would Pieper bother with refuting Germany's famous theologians?  Because their destructive influence was still being felt among Christians in America.  Unfortunately, this is still true today as today's (English) LC-MS follows Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Herman Sasse (even though I would not compare these two with Ritschl).

So here is the complete first paragraph of Pieper's essay:
     When the Hanoverian provincial synod was held in November of last year, a member thereof, the landowner von Klencke, drew the attention of the Synod to the deviation in the teaching which Professor Ritschl, academic at the state University of Göttingen, came to be guilty of.  Prof. Ritschl denied the doctrine of original sin, of reconciliation and of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper.  To support his accusation, von Klencke read the relevant passages from Ritschl's textbook "Instruction in the Christian Religion" and urged the Synod to take a stand against these and similar teachings.  Professor Ritschl called this quite unseemly.  In a lecture held before his Göttingen Auditorium he – according to a report of the Göttingen "Free press" – rejected von Klencke's judgment and claim as a "bottomless presumption", and indeed as a "bottomless presumption" because a "layman" is "one professionally not concerned with the science personally" (such as von Klencke) "over the long-term intellectual work that scholars arrange themselves to deal with.  Therefore for this one, there belongs no scientific qualification to play the heretic judge."
I can almost imagine Franz Pieper jumping out of his chair when he read this report out of Germany... maybe grabbing a cigar to smoke, ... muttering "Nein!  Nein!", ... and thinking "I've got to write about this in the next Lehre und Wehre... and thinking "those Dummkopf theologians in Germany"!

And so our dear (mild-mannered) Prof. Pieper put the pen to paper and could not contain his anger:
     If in the "Lutheran" Church of Hanover there were only a small living spirit of Luther, so then this demeanor of Professor Ritschl would bring a storm of protest in the church.  Consider this: Someone who wants to be a teacher of Christians does not want to be subjected to the judgment of Christians in relation to the correctness of his teachings. This is popish abomination in the most distinctive shape within a church nominally called Lutheran.  This is a prank in the face of the Church of Christ. Since everything is overturned that Luther taught from God's Word about Christian rights against the tyranny of the papacy. We repeat it: if the faith of the Church of the Reformation would have only a little power within Hanoverian Lutheran Church, so the manifestation of Ritschl's would cause a public outcry, and the congregation of which Professor Ritschl is a member wouldafter unsuccessfully applied punishment, expel this "teacher of the Church" from the Christian Church. For surely there is not a spark of spiritual life left in a so-called teacher of the Church who insists that he would not suffer the "lay" judges of his teaching.
(continued in next Part 2
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ok, OK, Prof. Pieper... you can sit down now...  I got the message.  I am commanded to judge the teachers and preachers in the Church according to God's Word.  Praise God for His infinite wisdom that
Matt. 11:25 – ...thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
2 John 1:10 – If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.
 "bottomless presumption"    or           God's Word?
Albrecht Ritschl              or          Franz Pieper?
I'll let Franz Pieper in my house and bid him "God speed"!  And to you, today's (English) LC-MS, I am your "von Klencke".

In the next Part 2, Pieper turns to Luther as a witness in his case... a powerful witness.

- - - - - - - - - - - -  Table of Contents  - - - - - - - - - - - -
Because this series achieved several posts, I am including this TOC for ease of reference:
Part 1 – "Bottomless presumption" by layman against great German theologian Ritschl
Part 2 – Luther's speaks!
Part 3 – "scientific" theology
Part 4 – understandable language
Part 5 – warnings!
Part 6 – Romans 16:17 and Church Fellowship

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.