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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Theologian vs. layman - no contest! (a warning!) Part 5

In the previous post Part 4, Pieper spoke of the importance of using understandable language 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 5, I conclude this translation of Pieper's L.u.W. article (pages 5-6) as he adds biting warnings to his subject:
(continued from Part 4)
            Thus it is then clear:  If all goes honestly and properly on the part of theologians, so Christians are very well in a position to judge doctrine.  Thus is and remains the church "the queen", as Luther expresses himself, also what concerns the judgment of doctrine; the theologians, however, even the most learned, remain always in the position of counselors.  And true theologians want to be nothing else.  They do not desire to be masters of the faith of Christians, but consider it their highest honor when they may be helpers of joy.
            May our Synod never be afflicted with "theologians" of the nature and disposition of Ritschl, and let this "Theologische Monatsblatt" [Theological Monthly, referring to Lehre und Wehre] never be at the service of such theologians.  However, it remains a matter that we stay generally unmuddled with modern, scientifically called theology.  Because this theology is based on the principle that "theology" and "Church doctrine" are two very different things; that the knowledge of Christian doctrine which the theologians have is a very different kind of knowledge than that which comes to ordinary Christians.  So it is only natural when Christians do not want to suffer the representatives of this theology as judges, what they as scientific theologians distribute in the world as doctrine.  Ritschl's demeanor is a natural fruit of the tree of modern theology, like also many other theologians of the same direction as Ritschl have expressed themselves.  Whoever does not want the fruit, should avoid the tree and the root.    F.P.
(end of article)
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Sadly, the "Synod" that Pieper speaks of, the old (German) Missouri Synod, did become afflicted with "theologians" who were as Albrecht Ritschl, and so became the "Graebner Synod", or what is called today the "Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod"... the LC-MS.

In my early days of driving a car with a license, I was pulled over by a policeman.  He was rather stern with me after I told him that I was just following that truck up ahead who was also going through the red light.  He looked at me and said:
Would you have followed that truck over a cliff?
... and gave me a ticket with a monetary fine.  Ouch!

God has given us Christians, the laymen, the command to judge our teachers on doctrine and not fall off that cliff and lose our soul's salvation!  We are not to follow any theologians or Synods who have driven over the cliff, but hang on to His strong chain of salvation.  We are instead to follow those teachers who are not our masters but rather "helpers of joy".  We are always to ask ourselves "Is this teacher helping my faith... or not?".  We are never to forget that whatever faith we have was given by God himself to us by His Word, not man's "science", especially not "science falsely so-called". (1 Timothy 6:20).

This is why I follow
Franz PieperThe Twentieth Century Luther!, The Second Walther!
C.F.W. WaltherThe American Luther!
Martin LutherThe Reformer of the Church! Rev. 14:6-7
They not only use God's Word to build a fortress against which I cannot go over the cliff, but rather set me in the judge's seat, on a mountain top, the very spot that God Himself puts all Christians... with His Word!

In the concluding Part 6 of this series, I focus on the Bible verse that first caught my eye in this article – Romans 16:17... and the doctrine of fellowship.

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