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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Walther as Theologian–Justification (by F. Pieper) - Part 1 [w/ downloads]

This post continues a 10-part series (see Preface for Table of Contents) from the Preface blog, now presenting the actual text of Wallace McLaughlin's English translation of the essay C.F.W. Walther as Theologian by Franz Pieper.
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 part)
By Franz Pieper 
(Translated by  Wallace McLaughlin from “Lehre und Wehre”, January, 1890, pp. 10-14: Justification- General)
     We have until now pointed out what Walther taught concerning the Church and the subject immediately connected with this doctrine.  This doctrine it was indeed for which the Saxon immigrants had in the first place to contend.  But when we endeavor to characterize Walther as a theologian we must above all else discuss his position on the doctrine of justification.
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The above paragraph was not included in J.T. Mueller's translation, but should have been.  Pieper beautifully puts this doctrine, the one doctrine by which the church stands and falls, at the head of Walther's teaching.  All other teachings of Christianity flow from this doctrine.  This is what Christianity is based on.  
Martin Luther was quoted by Martin Chemnitz (and President J.A.O. Preus II in this essay) where he said (page 1): 
The article of justification is the master and prince, the lord and ruler and judge of all areas of doctrine. It preserves and governs the entire teaching of the church and directs our conscience before God. Without this article the world is in total death and darkness, for there is no error so small, so insignificant and isolated that it does not completely please the mind of man and mislead us, if we are cut off from thinking and meditating on this article. Therefore, because the world is so obtuse and insensitive, it is necessary to deal with this doctrine constantly and have the greatest understanding of it. Especially if we wish to advise the churches, we will fear no evil, if we give the greatest labor and diligence in teaching particularly this article. For when the mind has been strengthened and confirmed in this sure knowledge, then it can stand firm in all things. Therefore, this is not some small or unimportant matter, particularly for those who wish to stand on the battle line and contend against the devil, sin, and death and teach the churches.” 
As mentioned elsewhere, the LC-MS likes to speak of Walther as "Mr. Law and Gospel".  But these essays speak of Walther as Mr. Universal, Objective Justification.  It is with this doctrine that he could properly distinguish Law and Gospel.
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
       Walther’s position on this doctrine gives us the key to his entire conduct in a life filled with controversies.  Walther places the doctrine of justification, or the doctrine that a man is justified before God and saved by grace through faith in Christ, in the center of all Christian doctrines.  All other doctrines serve as antecedents to this doctrine or flow from it as consequences.  And because Walther always saw that also this doctrine was placed in jeopardy by various individuals, therefore he sought so determinedly and uncompromisingly against all errors.  This doctrine was for him the pivotal point as in the contention for the right doctrine of the Church. (Die lutherische Lehre von der Rectfertigung.  Ein Referat, p. 93.) [The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification – A Presentation.]
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    Currently President Matthew Harrison and Concordia Publishing House are promoting Harrison's re-translation of Walther's Church and Ministry.  Although I have not yet purchased the book, yet I believe it will be an improvement of J.T. Mueller's translation.  However, will President Harrison emphasize also what Franz Pieper highlighted – that the Doctrine of Justification was the "pivotal point" in the contention for the doctrine of the "Church"?  I fear that Harrison will avoid the "center of all Christian doctrines".  Could this be the heart of his tragic apology on the Newtown situation – his avoidance of this doctrine?  Could it be that he wants to avoid the controversies that Walther's life was filled with...  because of this doctrine?
    And what about the presentation of Walther's essay called "Die lutherische Lehre von der Rechtfertigung" or "The Lutheran Doctrine of Justification" (LDJ)?  Can you find it anywhere?  It was presented to the Western District of the old German Missouri Synod in 1859.  You will see it listed in my spreadsheet on my blog post "Convention Essays" – 1859.    But where can you get an English translation of one of Walther's great essays on this pivotal doctrine?  In a CPH book that is still unavailable – Essays For The Church, Volume 1, pages 30-64.  Thanks CPH – if you continue to withhold this important book, I will have to provide my own translations.  As a minimum for now, I will provide a download to a scanned copy of the original German:
Walther's Lutheran Doctrine of Justification (LDJ) download:
Western 1859, Walther - Justification.pdf
[Note: Pieper's text  specifies "page 93" but Walther's essay was only on pages 11 - 65.  It seems that J.T. Mueller could be in error, so this reference is unclear.  It could be a misprint, or another essay by Walther.  In any event, it is certain that Walther did use the "pivotal" doctrine of Justification in setting forth the doctrine of the Church.]
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
Walther demonstrated, how, e.g., in the teaching of a visible church outside of which there should be no salvation, and in the claim that the validity of absolution should be dependent upon the ordination of the one who pronounces it, the doctrine of justification was overthrown.  He offered the same demonstration with reference to the other false doctrines against which he contended, e.g., with reference to chiliasm, a physical effect of the Sacraments, synergism, etc.  “The contention against false doctrine”, he says, “gains practical significance for the individual Christian only when he realizes how through the falsification of other articles also this doctrine cannot remain pure”. (Report of the first convention of the Synodical Conference, p. 23.) 
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Walther was the author of this report.  It is elsewhere commonly referred to as "Synodical Conference Report 1872" or "SCR 1872".  In an earlier blog post, I have already provided a download link to a DOC file of the entire "SCR 1872" published by the Ohio Synod in their Lutheran Standard magazine in the November 1, 1872 issue, page 163 ff..  Prof. Kurt Marquart also translated it, although this Lutheran Standard translation is quite sufficient   But I want to highlight it again here and again provide download links for both DOC and PDF versions:
Synodical Conference – founding essay ==>> SCR1872S.DOC  (176 KB, English)
Synodical Conference – founding essay ==>> SCR1872S.PDF   (282 KB, English)
Synodical Conference – founding essay ==>> SCR1872GS.DOC (259 kb, German)
Synodical Conference – founding essay ==>> SCR1872GS.PDF  (424 kb, German)
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
In this doctrine Walther lived, both as a Christian and as a theologian.  Even his opponents have confessed that he understood how to speak powerfully of this doctrine.  Concerning this doctrine Walther held the most lectures in his so-called Luther-hours.  It was before all else on the subject of how this doctrine should be rightly preached that he gave effective guidance in the theological seminary, both by showing the right way and also by a lively characterization of the most common aberrations.  We believe we are not asserting too much when we say that after Luther and Chemnitz probably no teacher of our Church has given more vital witness of the doctrine of justification than Walther.  Walther had Luther as his teacher especially also in this doctrine, and gathered the luminous rays which the later teachers shed upon this doctrine into one beam of brilliant light.
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Dear God!  – the dear Pieper is not asserting too much!  It is indeed Walther who is the greatest teacher in the Lutheran Church after Luther and Chemnitz.  Pieper is not downgrading the great lights of Adolf Hoenecke of the Wisconsin Synod or Herman Amberg Preus of the old Norwegian Synod.  Pieper is rather recognizing that it was Walther himself who brought again the Gospel in all its glorious beauty to our modern world ... and the fellow theological leaders of the sister synods recognized it.
Ah, but I will go beyond Pieper's assertion and say that Pieper himself is with Walther, for he carried Walther's teaching to the day he died.
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
       As we prepare to expound Walther’s position on the doctrine of justification we wish, first to direct attention to the general characterization which Walther gives of the doctrine of justification with respect to its importance, etc.  In the second place we intend to bring out the points which Walther emphasizes in connection with this doctrine in order to keep it intact over against the errors of the time.
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The "second" part that Pieper speaks of is in a future blog.  This "first" part is covered in 2 installments.

The next Part 2 continues this same installment – Christianity alone, no Church w/o true Doctrine of Justification.

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