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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

L. Rast–Pt 3c: Pieper- Link (Sola Scriptura)

This post continues from Part 3b in a series (Table of Contents in Part 1) that reviews several essays of Prof. Lawrence A. Rast Jr., president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (CTS-FW).  This Part 3c continues a review of an essay that Rast made on Franz Pieper, "A Connecting Link..." – the sub-sections titled "Sola Scriptura" .  The 27-page essay, one of several essays, can be downloaded here (1 MB PDF file).

With the refreshment from Pieper's essay on "Inspiration of Scripture", I can go on with this painful review...
(cont'd from Part 3b)
***  A review by BackToLuther of  ***
Franz August Otto Pieper (1852-1931): 
“A Connecting Link ...” 
by Lawrence R. Rast Jr.
37th Annual Reformation Lectures, (download here==>> LSQ 45:1, pgs 5-31)

Sola Scriptura (pgs 13-16)
In this section, Rast quotes Pieper from the Brief Statement and from an 1893 essay published in The Presbyterian and Reformed Review "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration" (see my last blog post).  The notable feature of this section is how Rast reports this and who he reports it to.
1) How Rast reports on Pieper:
  • "from Pieper"
  • "In this text Pieper believed..."
  • "Pieper offered his perspective..."
  • "his understanding of the Bible"
  • "Pieper maintained his position..."
  • "Indeed, Pieper's reading of Luther leads him to claim..."
  • "the bottom line is that for Pieper..."
Rast can positively state what Pieper said and believed, what doctrines Pieper held.  He shows that he is well read, that he may even be able to read German and Latin.  He knows how to find things in the writings of old Missouri.  But as I read his essay, I kept writing in the margins:
But what do you believe, Dr. Rast?  You keep saying what Pieper believed, but you seem to leave out what you hold for the truth...  you seem to be holding yourself at a careful distance...
So... what do you believe, Dr. Rast?

2) Who did Rast deliver this essay to?
If one reads the many writings of Dr. Rast, he has many audiences.  He writes for the Concordia Theological Quarterly; he wrote a contributing essay for the book honoring Prof. David Scaer – All Theology Is Christology.  But who are the people that Rast delivers this essay to? ... on Franz Pieper?  This essay where he said:
Indeed, Pieper’s reading of Luther leads him to claim that “inspiration extends also to all chronological, historical and scientific matters that are contained in Scripture.”
Was it a room full of LC-MS theologians and others who listened to Alistair McGrath, an Anglican, speaking on Reformation Day to Lutherans?  No.  —  Was it an audience like the readers of the book All Theology is Christology that honored Prof. David P. Scaer (and Richard John Neuhaus)?  No.  —  So what audience could he deliver this essay to, where the audience would not snicker... or even heckle him?  Who are these people in the audience?
==>> They are former fellow members of the defunct Synodical Conference, the ELS and WELS... the synods that separated from Rast's synod, the LC-MS... the separated synods that were railed against by the new (English) LC-MS for their faithfulness to the doctrines of Christianity, faithfulness to Scripture.  Unfortunately, the detrimental influence of the LC-MS has been so pervasive that even these separated brethren are also losing their moorings to the doctrines of the Reformation – Rast's presence at their "Reformation Lectures" show it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
At the top of page 16, Rast says of Pieper:
What is rather striking is the consistency of language across more than forty years. 
Why is it striking to Dr. Rast that a theologian should be consistent for so long?  Rast also noted in the other essay "Collecting Autographs..." how long (three decades!) that Pieper had not changed his teaching on Scriptures.  Again, why is it so surprising – except that maybe Dr. Rast is a member of modern theology that is "carried about with every wind of doctrine"? Ephesians 4:14
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
A digression: A pastor of the ELCA and "Sola Scriptura"
An ELCA pastor who contacted me privately last year (on the subject of "geocentrism") publishes on his church's website "Scripture Alone" (also "Grace Alone" and "Faith Alone").  He calls himself a "Lutheran" even glorifying the Reformation heritage.  He also ridiculed my blog posts on Geocentrism, Luther on the Jews... called me "Franzie baby" and a coward for not revealing my full identity (and more ridicule).  He would not address the Doctrine of Justification that I raised with him.  I wonder if Dr. Rast's own teaching of "Sola Scriptura" is not unlike that of this ELCA Lutheran pastor?
==>> Listen, Dr. Rast, to what this ELCA pastor wrote to me – he and I agree on this:
The LCMS has forgotten its history and what it use to believe. I know of no LCMS pastor who is a geocentricist today. 95% will have never heard of it even though that it is right in Pieper. [i.e. Pieper's Christian Dogmatics]
I will agree with this ELCA pastor (a student of philosophy) on this much, that the LCMS has forgotten what it use to believe.  But we disagree on the extent of forgetfulness.  He will use the gauge of "geocentrism"... while I use the gauge of Universal, Objective Justification, i.e. the Gospel... a teaching for which his ELCA is practically dead.  But can Dr. Rast even point out how the ELCA positively does not hold to "Scripture Alone"?
- - - - - - - - - End of Part 3c - - - - - - - - - -

In my next post Part 3d, I have reserved a whole blog post for a special edition.  I will reproduce an extract of Rast's essay, one of the most memorable testimonies ever given for Prof. Pieper... by a student of Pieper.

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