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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Walther as Theologian–Justification (by F. Pieper) - Part 8

This post continues a 10-part series (see Preface for Table of Contents) from Part 7 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 7)
---------------  Pieper  --------------------------------
Many, even among preachers, do not rightly know what to do with the resurrection of Christ.  They read that Christ raised Himself and then again that the Father raised Him, and they do not know how to harmonize this.  They suppose at one time that Christ arose in order to prove His deity and at another that He was raised in order that the possibility and certainty of our resurrection might be established.  True as both these assertions are, yet neither one is the chief matter
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Yes, dear Walther, please tell us what the chief matter is for all Christianity...  what does Easter really mean?  I'm pretty sure it is not about chocolate Easter bunnies sold in stores, but what is it?  Why should I be happy at the message of Easter?
----------------  Pieper  ----------------------------------
Christ would not have died and risen again only to prove His deity; and the possibility of our resurrection had indeed already been proven by the resurrection of others before Christ; the chief matter remains that God through Christ declared: Christ has now paid for the sins of the whole world, it is therefore free from its guilt; now the entire world can raise the shout of victory, for its freedom from sin and its righteousness is won.  Furthermore: when God raised His son from the dead He did not forgive Him His own sin but that of all mankind which He had taken upon Him; He did not justify Christ from His own guilt but from our guilt which He had allowed to be imputed unto Him.  Thus the whole world has been justified through the resurrection of Christ. (Western District, 1875, p. 33.)  [Convention Essays, pgs 105 - 106; see also my blog posts beginning here]. 
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Dear God!  Thank you for sending C.F.W. Walther to bring again the chief matter for all Christianity to our modern world!
This is the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification!
It seems that President Matthew Harrison, in his Easter video at Pieper's church building and grave site, attempted to capture the spirit of Pieper.  He mentions the Bible verse Romans 4:25, he says that "because He is risen, our sins are forgiven."  These are good statements!  But he spends the majority of time on Christ the Pantocrator and on eschatological matters (last things) that Pieper only spends a few paragraphs at the end of his Christian Dogmatics book.  Now these are also fine doctrines to teach the people, but has he given any teaching of the Law to show our sins (S.O.S.) and has he driven home what most people don't believe or struggle with —  Are my sins really forgiven?  Harrison's message seems wanting...  Someone might say I'm being too harsh on President Harrison...  perhaps.  But I'm one step from hell, and without the assurance of universal justification, mere talk of "last things", a favorite subject of Pentecostals, leaves me a bit empty.
----------------  Pieper  ----------------------------------
With this, the fact that man is justified by faith in no way stands in contradiction,...
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   Here is exactly where some who think of themselves as "conservative" Lutherans, as great champions of Luther and Lutheran Orthodoxy, fall miserably.  They attack this beautiful doctrine vehemently (which I call UOJ or Universal, Objective Justification) by claiming this doctrine destroys the great cry of the Reformation – "Justification by Faith!".  But they are sadly mistaken and drive many away from Christianity.  For me, 15 years ago, it was Larry Darby.  Today, "GJ" is perhaps the chief spokesman of their error.
   Even the former members of the Synodical Conference – the LC-MS, WELS, and ELS – are all unsure of this basic doctrine...  and certainly do not teach and preach it as in their former days.
   But let us go on to the ultimate winsome teaching the world will ever hear... from the pen of Walther (and Pieper).
----------------  Pieper  ----------------------------------
... for when we speak of faith, the personal appropriation on the part of man and the imputation of the righteousness which has been won on the part of God is emphasized.  But this would not be possible if the world had not been first justified through Christ’s death and resurrection, if the condemnation in death had not been followed by the acquittal in the resurrection. (1st Report of the Synodical Conference, p. 41 f.).  [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 179, col. 2 - 3]

 And this justification applies not only to men in general but to all individual men.  “If it be asked whether one could say that man collectively has indeed been absolved but not the individuals, our answer is: God through Christ is reconciled to each individual. (L.c., p. 32.)  [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 178, col. 1]

            This doctrine of a universal justification of all men before faith is not a theological construction, but a Biblical doctrine
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This is why I had to write against Larry Darby,  this was the exact phraseology he used – that the Doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification was a "theological construction".   
----------------  Pieper  ----------------------------------
Biblical not only in its content- which in itself would be fully sufficient, -- but even in its phraseology.  “It is this doctrine,” says Walther, “which is expressly declared in the passage, Romans 5:18 (‘As the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life’), and it is therefore not merely a Biblical doctrine but also a Biblical expression that justification of life has come upon all men.  Only a Calvinistic exegesis could explain this passage to the effect that only the elect are justified”.  Although Scripture is most places speaks of that justification which takes place in the moment when a man comes to faith, and accordingly in ecclesiastical usage the justification by faith is simply called the justification of a poor sinner (L.c., p. 68.) [SCR1872S.PDF, 1874: pg 11, col. 3] , nevertheless the doctrine of the universal justification of all men before faith, which is clearly attested by Scripture in several places, is of the very greatest importance.  Let no one think in this matter a mere strife of words is involved.  Rather is the most highly important matter here to be maintained against attacks and error.  Especially in this land of sects and fanatics we must earnestly urge the doctrine of universal justification, for they indeed also teach that man is justified by faith, but they speak of faith in such a manner that one soon notices that they make faith itself the effective cause of justification, whereby they rob the Lord Christ of His honor. (L.c., p. 46.) [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 186, col. 1] Without the universal justification before faith there is no justification by faith.  We could not then, continues Walther, speak of the justification of the sinner by faith, for to believe means to receive what is there.  If the world were not already justified, then believing would mean accomplishing a work unto justification.  The entire preaching of the Gospel is a message of God concerning a righteousness which has already been gained by Him and is there for all.  (Cf. On this subject especially Brosamen, pp. 142, 143.) [The Word of His Grace – Sermon Selections, pgs 232-233 (see also Amazon here); From Our Master's Table, pgs 72-73]
            Those who say that God has made the whole world righteous, but has not declared it righteous thereby really deny the whole of justification.  Yea, if God had not (already) written and sealed the document of pardon, we preachers would be liars and deceivers of the people when we tell them: Only believe and your are righteous;  but now that God through raising His Son has subscribed the document of pardon for the sinners and provided it with His divine seal, we can confidently preach: the world is justified, the world is reconciled to God, which latter expression we could not use if the former were not true. – When the Lutheran Confession repeatedly says that justification is grasped by faith these passages express the truth that a justification must first be at hand which faith can receive, and that faith must not first effect it, but that it grasps it as already at hand.  If anyone would say: the forgiveness of sins is indeed already there, but not justification, he must indeed be ignorant of our Confessions, which expressly teach that justification and forgiveness of sins are the same.  “We believe, teach, and confess that according to the usage of Holy Scripture the word justify means in this article, to absolve, that is, to declare free from sins”. (Formula of Concord, Article 3; Mueller, p. 528; Triglotta p. 793. L.c., p.46.)  [SCR1872S.PDF, 1872: pg 185, col. 3; Concordia – The Lutheran Confessions, pg 480] 
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Grab a chair.  Sit at the feet of the greatest Christian teacher since the days of Martin Luther.  Bask in the "luminous rays of the Gospel".  Listen to the greatest "helper of Joy" for our modern Christian era.
Believe what God has already done for you... there is nothing left to do to appease Him, only believe that Christ has paid the debt of our sin to the uttermost.

In the next Part 9, Absolution and true Christian counsel are covered.

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