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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lawrence Rast–Pt 3b: Pieper- Link (Bio & Literary Legacy)

This post continues from Part 3a 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 3b continues a review of an essay that Rast made on Franz Pieper, "A Connecting Link..." – the sub-sections titled "Biography" and "Literary Legacy".  The 27-page essay, one of several essays, can be downloaded here (1 MB PDF file).
***  A review by BackToLuther ***
(cont'd from Part 3a)

Franz August Otto Pieper (1852-1931): 
“A Connecting Link between the Present Age 
and that of the Fathers and Founders of Lutheranism” 
by Lawrence R. Rast Jr.

Biography (pg 10-11)
In this section, Rast could have just repeated the standard CHI information on Pieper’s life, but he inserts comments from 2 fellow professors at CTS-FW on Pieper.  The first is from David Scaer:
David Scaer has argued that the death of Pieper left a vacuum of theological leadership that Missouri has yet to fill.
Well now, Dr Rast, I see that Scaer also wrote essays on Pieper including a large essay on Francis Pieper in 1993.  Did Scaer advise you on this essay of yours?  —  This statement by Scaer is curious since he said in his 1993 essay that Hinduism also taught salvation by grace like Christianity, something Pieper would never do.  Could Scaer's statement reveal a false modesty and a tacit admission that he is part of the "vacuum"?  (I will pass on commenting on Marquart's statement.)  Rast concludes from these 2 professors with the following:
It is certain that with Pieper’s passing, things changed in Missouri.
Things changed?... what things?  Maybe Rast means things changed for the better since today's LC-MS does not follow the old (German) Missouri's "democratic" (not apostolic) form of a Christian congregation and church government?  But let us proceed to Rast’s next section...

Pieper’s Literary Legacy: Christian Dogmatics and the Brief Statement (pgs 11-13)

On page 11, Dr. Rast introduces us to the 2 writings of Pieper that are still generally available to today’s audience.  The first is his dogmatics book series:
In his Christliche Dogmatik Pieper sought to defend... against the doctrinal aberrations... that characterized the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century theological scene.
This statement is largely true.  Pieper mentions dozens of theologians, especially from Germany and America.  Dr. Rast is impressed with this and says:
It certainly shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt,...
What is “beyond a shadow of a doubt” for Dr. Rast?... that Pieper's doctrine was pure?... that the Bible was true?...  that God's grace is universal?... and salvation is by grace alone?...   No, rather that it is “beyond a shadow of doubt”
the extent to which Pieper had read and engaged the theologians of his time.
Hmmm... this doesn't seem quite the purpose that Pieper had in mind – Pieper had in mind that his reader would “not doubt in his heart, but shall believe”,  Mark 11:23;  Pieper had in mind that “ye might believe”, John 20:31.  Is there a “shadow of doubt” for Dr. Rast on Pieper’s real purpose?  But let us proceed...
Rast (pg. 12) attempts to defend Pieper against charges of being "outdated" by highlighting his "breadth of reading", "incredible work of synthesis", and "richness and profundity".  But does he praise Pieper's doctrine as Biblical?  No.  (Is all that "profundity" lost on Rast?)  Yes indeed, Dr. Rast – Luther, Walther and Pieper were smart men, but this was not their greatness.  Their greatness stemmed from the fact that they believed the Bible and used their “profundity” to write that others also might believe...

Hmmm... Dr. Rast – one of those who charged Pieper with being “outdated” was none other than your own Pastor Martin Noland in the pages of your own Concordia Theological Quarterly, in none other than the issue “honoring” C.F.W. Walther.  Why don’t you defend Pieper against Pastor Noland?  But let us proceed...
Dr. Rast wraps-up his summary of Pieper’s great “dogmatics” book series:
Yet the dogmatics features in every section the beauty and clarity of the Gospel, centered in the vicarious atonement of Christ for the sins of the world.
This seems a beautiful statement, Dr. Rast, but didn’t you forget to mention “Christology”? … you know, that “All Theology is Christology”?  (Oh, maybe you will slip this in later...)  But let us proceed...
Again on page 12, Rast introduces the other writing that is generally available, the Brief Statement of 1932:
In addition to the Dogmatics, Pieper was also largely responsible for a document of long-standing importance for the Synod—A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Synod.
At this point Rast gives some “historical context” of this document and includes this:
...a committee featuring Pieper was tasked … [in 1929 to address]  the questions at issue between the Missouri Synod and confessional Lutherans outside of Missouri’s and the Synodical Conference’s fellowship.
So Rast would call those outside Missouri’s fellowship as “confessional Lutherans”.  He has the audacity to even name these “confessional Lutherans” – “the Ohio, Buffalo, and Iowa Synods”.  Is it “confessional” to question that the Bible is Inspired and Inerrant?  Is it “confessional” to question God’s grace as being entirely sufficient (sola gratia) and sufficient for all (gratia universalis)?  That is what these other so-called “confessional” Lutherans (ALC, LCA, ULCA, etc.) questioned.  That is why Franz Pieper’s pleaded in his last words to the Missouri Synod to study his Brief Statement thoroughly and be aware of false prophets in “sheep’s clothing” – What did Pieper call Rast’s “confessional Lutherans”?  Adversaries, opponents, heterodox!  Hmmm... Dr. Rast – are you maybe a “confessional Lutheran” like those from the Ohio, Buffalo, and Iowa Synods?... you know – "à la Sasse"?  But let us proceed...
Further on page 12, historian Rast brings out the fact that there was dissension among the faculties of St. Louis and Springfield during the formulation of the Brief Statement.  But he does not name names.  I will.  Among the dissenters in St. Louis: W.G. Polack, Wm. Arndt, Theo. Graebner, W.A. Maier (even if only secretly);  those who did not dissent against Pieper were Th. Engelder, F. Bente, P.E. Kretzmann, J.T. Mueller. 
Rast now brings out another tidbit of church history:
However, two professors from the Springfield seminary cautioned against moving with too great haste.
The “Springfield seminary” was the forerunner of today’s Fort Wayne seminary, the seminary that Dr. Rast is now president of.  Maybe Dr. Rast, the church historian, does not think it prudent to name these 2 professors.  I can name at least one: Walter Albrecht.  But let us proceed...
On page 13, Rast attempts to distinguish two (fundamental) issues (doctrines) in the Brief Statement – “historic” issues and “contemporary” issues.  I wonder what he means by this distinction?  He says:
The “contemporary” issue was the doctrine of Scripture. Notably, Scripture had not been at issue between the LCMS and the synods that now made up the ALC. (Geschichte der Missouri-Synode, page 288. [in Google Books!])
This statement is misleading and ultimately false.  First, he apparently claims that it was only the ULCA that had aberrations in their doctrine of Scripture.  Now it cannot be denied that the ULCA was the worst offender of this doctrine as Friedrich Bente described in his American Lutheranism, Vol. 2, pg. 220 f..  But one only has to read a little from Walther and Pieper to realize that Rast’s statement hides the aberrations held also in all the other Lutheran synods in America outside the Synodical Conference.  In fact one can just read the last paragraph of Pieper’s article on Walther against The False Arguments for the Modern Theory of Open Questions – on my blog post here Part 3b (in Lehre und Wehre beginning here, v. 14 pg 100).  I will bring 4 witnesses against Dr. Rast:
1)  My star witness there is Pastor Christian Hochstetter, who left the Buffalo Synod.  Here is what Pieper wrote:
Pastor Hochstetter, who took part in the colloquy arranged with the Iowa Synod in 1867 at Milwaukee, writes: “It was then first really clear to me (Pastor Hochstetter had recently come from the Buffalo Synod to the Missouri Synod) “that the strength of the Missourian teachers lay not so much in their dependence upon the Symbols, as rather in their reverence for God’s Word!  Isaiah 66:2.  (Geschichte der Missouri-Synode, page 288. [in Google Books!])
2)  I have another witness against Dr. Rast – Pastor Hermann Sasse.  How so?  Because Hermann Sasse said this in 1952:
...our United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia is connected with Loehe and Iowa, now the American Lutheran Church [ALC],... We tried to overcome the old scheme of the Orthodox fathers...
The “old scheme” of the Orthodox fathers is what Pieper describes (in these essays) as that of the old (German) Missouri Synod, but Hermann Sasse would “overcome” them...  What?... “overcome” the teaching of the old (German) Missouri, you know... the doctrine that old Missouri confessed when it said  “We believe, teach and confess”?

3)  And another witness is Prof. Edward C. Fendt, of the ALC, who recorded that 2 professors of the ALC (from old Iowa Synod Wartburg seminary) said this (circa 1947) [PNG file]:
The reason for the discord [between ALC & LC-MS faculty] resulted from the insistence... [by 2 ALC-Iowa professors] that “verbal inspiration does not guarantee the accuracy of all historical and geographical references in the Scriptures”.
4)  And the last witness I bring is C.F.W. Walther who said:
“... it appears impossible to convince the Iowans even with the most compelling evidences from God's Word.
Dr. Rast – tell me again how “Scripture had not been at issue between the LCMS and the synods that now made up the ALC (Ohio, Buffalo, and Iowa Synods)”...  Pastor Hochstetter says that was not true.  I wonder that now Dr. Rast might try to conjure up some “historical contexts” to refute Pastor Hochstetter, that maybe the Ohio, Iowa, and Buffalo Synods changed by 1929.  Maybe he will consult with Prof. David Scaer to try to figure out how to make their case stick "à la Sasse"...  they will attempt to show how much better the ALC was than the ULCA  – let them.  Franz Pieper’s Last Words stand in their way.  And indeed, there is a “cloud of witnesses” against Dr. Rast (and Dr. Scaer) – Hebrews 12:1.  Isn’t the final witness against Dr. Rast that of the ELCA itself which is ultimately a merger of the ALC and the ULCA?  But let us proceed...
---------------   continued in Part 3c   --------------------------------

If anyone has reached this point in my reviews of Dr. Lawrence A. Rast, Jr. and has thought that today’s LC-MS is “orthodox” because of Rast’s “conservative” Lutheranism, they are facing quite a “cloud of witnesses” against this notion.
In his next sub-section, “Sola Scriptura”, Rast expands on Pieper's teaching with several quotes from the Brief Statement,... and from another essay that is little knownuntil now.  Before continuing on to Part 3c, I am inserting in my next blog post a special publication... I want to first offer the reader who may not be familiar with the history of the Missouri Synod a publication from 1893... from a surprising Reformed source on Martin Luther.  Then, with the spiritual refreshment from this publication by Franz Pieper on Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration, I will proceed to Part 3c...

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