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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Walther as Theologian–Justification (by F. Pieper) - Part 5

This post continues a 10-part series (see Preface for Table of Contents) from Part 4 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 – Universal, Objective (Second essay)
By Franz Pieper 
(Translated by  Wallace McLaughlin from  “Lehre und Wehre”, February, 1890, pp. 42-50: Justification- Universal),
(Continued from Part 4)
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
             We now indicate the points upon which, according to Walther, everything depends if we are to keep the doctrine of justification pure, also in our times.  Walther says: “In connection with the pure doctrine of justification, as our Lutheran Church has again expounded and upheld it on the basis of God’s Word, there are chiefly three points at issue:
  1.       the doctrine of the universal complete redemption of the world through Christ;
  2.       the doctrine of the power and effectiveness of the means of grace; and
the doctrine of faith” (First Report of the Synodical Conference, p. 20). [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 163, col. 1]
If the people are agree in these points then they are truly agreed in the doctrine of justification and in general in the entire Christian doctrine.  If there is a deficiency in one or more of these points, as there is in the Protestant sects and among the modern rationalistic-synergistic Lutherans, then the doctrine of justification is defective, even though there may still be outward agreement in phraseology with the orthodox church, i.e., even though one still says that man is justified before God alone by grace, through faith, for Christ’s sake, and not through the works of the Law(Die lutherische Lehre von der Rechtfertigung, p. 35.) [Essays For The Church, Vol. 1, page 45]; (Western District, 1875, pp. 32-40.)  [Convention Essays, pgs 105 - 112; see also my blog posts beginning here].
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
Pieper has three points in this essay.  But the 2nd and 3rd points, Means of Grace and Faith, are more fully covered in separate essays – see the Table of Contents on my original blog post for Pieper's whole series of essays.
----------------  Pieper  ----------------------------------
            We give here first of all a summary of Walther’s expositions concerning these points.  If anyone denies the universality of the atonement, if he denies with Calvin that Christ has redeemed all and that God in the Gospel earnestly offers grace to all without distinction, then he certainly overthrows the doctrine of justification.  Furthermore, if anyone teaches indeed that Christ has redeemed all men, but has not fully redeemed them, i.e., if he teaches that Christ has indeed made the forgiveness of sins possible, but that the forgiveness of sins of justification is not actually already at hand for every sinner, then faith and conversion is made a meritorious cause of the forgiveness of sins and the doctrine of justification by grace for Christ’s sake is overthrown.  If anyone teaches falsely concerning the means of grace, i.e., if he does not teach that God offers grace to the sinner in the Word and Sacrament and that the sinner is to seek and find grace in Word and Sacrament, then he directs the sinner to seek grace in his subjective condition in conversion and renewal, i.e., in human works. 
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
Although Pieper does not use the specific word "objective", yet he combats the notion of seeking grace by a  "subjective condition in conversion and renewal".  In other words, we are to seek grace in the objective justification already accomplished by Christ – it is outside us.
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
If anyone teaches falsely concerning faith, if he does not teach that faith is reliance upon the grace offered in the Word, but rather identifies faith with feeling, then again the condition of the human heart is made the basis of righteousness and salvation instead of the grace of God.  If anyone teaches falsely concerning faith in this manner, that he ascribes to human cooperation or the good conduct of man, then again, even with retention of the phraseology “by faith alone”, the “by grace for Christ’s sake” and therewith the pure doctrine of justification is abandoned.
            This subject, however, seems so important to us that we wish to expound each of the three points somewhat more fully in accordance with the utterances of Walther which are here so abundantly available.

            To the correct doctrine of justification belongs then, in the first place,
The correct Biblical doctrine of the

Complete redemption of all men through Christ.

            In order to place the complete redemption through Christ in the right light Walther is concerned with impressing the fact that even before faith grace, righteousness, and salvation is at hand for every man, that even before faith God is in Christ fully reconciled to all sinners, that even before faith every sinner is righteous before God with respect to the attainment and the divine intention (First Report of the Synodical Conference, p. 68) [SCR1872S.PDF, 1873: pg 11, col. 3-4], or in accordance with the judgment which God by raising Christ from the dead has already pronounced upon all men. (L.c., p. 31.) [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 177, col. 2-3]
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
How the tongues wag on this... "easy believe-ism"!... Antinomianism!  Universalism!!  Oh the howls of indignation!  Walther went too far here! you can't be serious Walther! ... before faith?  Why that's heretical!!  (No, it's the Gospel.)
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
“A justification has not only been made possible, but it has been obtained and has taken place”. (L.c., p. 61.) [SCR1872S.PDF, 1873: pg 2, col. 3-4] Walther is above all concerned to reject the idea that man through his faith and through his conversion renders God fully favorable to him or completes his redemption and righteousness.  The man who is to be saved must indeed be converted, but this conversion is not that for the sake of which God saves him, but the way upon which a man comes to faith, who himself does nothing but receive the complete and already bestowed redemption. (L.c. p. 34.) [SCR1872S.PDF, pg 1872: pg 178, col. 1]
---------------- Comments -----------------------------
Walther made the same point in his essay to the Western District 1875.  I published in a previous blog post the following English translation from the CPH book Convention Essays:
page 105: It is said that man must also do something in justification, namely believe.  Under such circumstances justification is not attributed solely to God.  But that means nothing else than robbing God of part of His honor and ascribing it to man.  Then it would not be God alone who saves us, but we would work together.  Only those who cannot distinguish sharply between condition and means can conceive such a thought.  A condition demands a performance on the part of the person who is to receive something.  
When a Christian comes to true faith in the Gospel, they immediately distinguish sharply between condition and means.  The Gospel contains no conditions.

I wish I could highlight every sentence of Pieper's essay – it all is so wonderful.  This doctrine is what the Synodical Conference was built on... this is the heart of the old (German) Missouri Synod.
The next Part 6 continues with the teaching that distinguishes Christianity – Universal Justification before our faith... only Lutheran Church teaches this.

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