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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Walther as Theologian–Justification (by F. Pieper) - Part 4

This post continues a 10-part series (see Preface for Table of Contents) from the Part 3 which presents the actual text of Wallace McLaughlin's English translation of the essay C.F.W. Walther as Theologian by Franz Pieper.  This is done to honor the two commenters on Concordia Seminary's own web post publishing a different translation.
This portion can be downloaded here.
  • Pieper's text is indented in dark blue text.
  • I will add commentary at certain points in green text.
  • All underlinings are from the original.
  • Highlighting of Pieper's text is mine!
C.F.W. Walther as Theologian 
Justification – Importance (First essay)
By Franz Pieper 
(Translated by  Wallace McLaughlin from  “Lehre und Wehre”, January, 1890, pp. 10-14: Justification- General),
(Continued from Part 3)
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
      Hence a living knowledge of the doctrine of justification belongs to the right preparation for the office of the ministry.  Walther says: “The most necessary thing which students of theology can take with them from the theological seminary, without which everything else would be worthless, is a clear and thorough insight, grounded upon experience, into the exalted doctrine of the justification of a poor sinner before God”.  And to the right administration of the office belongs before all else the public and private proclamation of the doctrine of justification.  Because he is permitted to proclaim this doctrine a preacher should gladly want to be a preacher.  And as the preacher’s joy in the performance of his office, so also all his hope of effectiveness should come from this doctrine.  This will preserve the pastor from a legalistic tendency. (Referat, p. 95 f.) 
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
To all seminary students -- read what Walther says of the "office of the Ministry" – whether at Concordia Seminary, Concordia Theological Seminary, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Bethany Lutheran Theological SeminaryImmanuel Lutheran SeminaryThe Martin Luther Institute of Sacred Studiesor any of the other smaller conservative Lutheran bodies that have split off from former Synodical Conference synods.  If you do not understand this doctrine, all your labor will be in vain.  All your well-meaning ideas will be fighting against the true Christian doctrine.
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
In the doctrine of justification one has also the means of continuing in the true doctrine.  “As long as this doctrine is entirely pure”, says Walther, “no error in other points can find lodgment with us.  It is just as Luther says: ‘This doctrine tolerated no error’.  It is the sun in the heaven of the Church and where it arises all shadows must flee”.  We have in the doctrine of justification a “standard which makes it impossible for us if we are governed by it to take up an error”.  “He who has come to the knowledge of the doctrine of justification laughs at all learned unbelieving and self-believing professors with all their eloquence and learning when they teach falsely; when what they determine and say does not agree with his childhood text: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin’, even the simplest believer treads it under foot, however great an appearance of wisdom or holiness it may have”. (Synod. Conf. Report p. 27.) [SCR1872S.PDF, pg 169 - 170]  He, on the other hand, who is not straight in the doctrine of justification cannot realize and show how dangerous an error is. 
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
We are seemingly drowning in errors of doctrine... all around us.  In what we see in the media, in the news, from a constant stream of endless attacks on the Bible.  A Christian is constantly blown about with every wind of doctrine... the Pope, so-called cults, the sects, violence in the world between various "religious" groups.  To be able to overcome these errors takes something other than our intelligence, our logic, our reasoning, our eloquence and learning... it takes a true faith grounded in this doctrine.  Errors that militate against the doctrines of the Bible are all dangerous, but especially those false teachings that at first appear "holy" or "sacred" but yet do not flow from this doctrine of Justification will trip you up.  Rather be the "simplest believer" who treads under foot all notions that God requires something of us for your salvation, some good behavior, some less resistance, etc.  Throw back at the error the Word of God which says  
  • John 3:16 – For God so loved the world ... etc.   and 
  • Romans 11:6 – If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
 ---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
He who does not know what is the chief thing in Christianity is like a child who does not know the purpose of a clock and hence regards this little wheel or that shaft as unnecessary.  Without the right knowledge of the doctrine of justification the individual doctrines of the Word of God are an incoherent heap of stones from which one may carry some away without inflicting any essential damage upon the whole.  Without the right knowledge of this doctrine one will always be in doubt where the right Church is, particularly when one looks upon the humble appearance and small numbers of the true church and also the offenses which occur in it.  But if one holds fast to the doctrine of justification he will not allow the multitude, the age, the splendor, the strict order, and the great works of the false churches to impose upon him.  Also not the learning of the apologetic efforts of the modernists
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
Pieper enumerates quite a list of what Christians are not to be impressed with: 
  • multitudes (1.2 billion Roman Catholics), 
  • age (centuries of Roman church), 
  • splendor (great "cathedrals"), 
  • strict order (e.g. Amish, etc.) 
  • "apologetics", i.e. human reason can find God apart from God's Word
Especially the Reformed and so-called "Evangelicals" want to use "apologetics" and so think that by using our reasoning, our rational capabilities, can we find a more effective and certain way to present Christianity than the Word of God.
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
For all of this without the doctrine of justification can have no profit or effect in the Church.
                                                Franz Pieper.
                                    Translated by W.H. McLaughlin – Mpls., Minn.
----------   End of First Essay   ------------------------------------------------

Dear reader, put away all other writers of Christianity for awhile and contemplate what Walther and Pieper are bringing to us here – true Christianity.
In the next Part 5 is Pieper's second essay -- Universal Justification, means of grace, before faith.

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