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Friday, August 16, 2013

Rast–Pt 3f: Pieper-Link, Sola Gratia (Scaer & Christology - "fly in the ointment")

Continued from Part 3e, finishing Lawrence Rast's section "Sola Gratia" in his essay on Franz Pieper– "Connecting Link... ". (Table of Contents in Part 1)
--------------------   cont'd from Part 3e   -------------------------

So what is the "fly in the ointment"?  How could it possibly be wrong to inject the Doctrine of Christology at this point by Prof. David Scaer (and Prof. Rast)?  It is this, as Pieper hammered home:
All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing.
And so the "fly in the ointment" is that Scaer's "Christology" replaces the position of Justification as the central article of Christianity and so does not allow the doctrine of Christology to serve the Doctrine of Justification, but Justification now becomes just a "subsidiary article of Christology".  But just as the phrase "intuitu fidei" deceives Christians in the Doctrine of Election of Grace, so Scaer's elevation of Christology above Justification deceives Christians.  Scaer's assertion about Pieper's theology at this point is at the least misleading, at worst false.

It is as I blurted out in the heat of battle against Larry Darby (whom I considered a "conservative" Lutheran) as he attacked Universal, Objective Justification:
The teaching against universal grace is at war with Christianity and is therefore not Lutheran.  It is not the gist of Christianity.  What good is memorizing multitudes of Bible verses if the central doctrine is not grasped?  What good is textus receptus if the doctrine of justification is blurred?  What good is it to hold to the biblical doctrine of women in the church if faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins is put into question?  What good is the doctrine of Scripture if the central doctrine of justification is attacked?  What good are missions if the good news is turned sour?  What good are the doctrines of creation and geocentricity if the Creator/Redeemer is spurned in His greatest work?  What good is the doctrine that the papacy is the very anti-Christ if the true Christ is not understood as the Saviour of the world?  What good is the warning against psychology in the church if it can't be refuted with God's true wisdom - Christ Crucified for the sins of the world (foolishness to man)?
Let all the world say:
"There see!  BackToLuther is attacking the Doctrine of Christ (Christology, Christologia).  He is a heretic!  He cannot be trusted!"
Let them, ... for I know that it is rather Franz Pieper who is the true defender of the Doctrine of Christ.  Why?  Because Pieper clearly stated:
1) Brief Statement:
The purpose of this miraculous incarnation of the Son of God was that He might become the Mediator between God and men, both fulfilling the divine Law and suffering and dying in the place of mankind. In this manner God reconciled the whole sinful world unto Himself
2) Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pg 55:
True, we generally call the doctrine of justification the central article of the Christian doctrine, the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae. But this article is directly based on the doctrine of Christ, on the doctrine of Christ's theanthropic Person and theanthropic work.
Scaer will now surely jump up from his chair and say:
See there, you BackToLuther whoever you are – Pieper proves you wrong!  There, see Pieper himself says:  "...this article [the doctrine of justification] is directly based on the doctrine of Christ"
But Scaer is incorrect or at least misleading and here is why.  He is incorrect because Pieper just put the Doctrine of Christ in its proper place – it rightly serves the doctrine of Justification, it does not replace the central article of all Christianity.  One might consider Justification to be a "subsidiary article" to Christology, but only in a logical sense, not in the order of importance.  No, our Saviour wants us first to know, because He is the Son of God, that our sins are forgiven!  So how is Scaer's emphasis deceiving for Christian theology?  Because, even though it appears to hold up Christ, it actually replaces Justification as central article of all Christianity.

There is a Roman Catholic Church in a neighboring town where they have a statue of Christ out front... and it is gold-plated!  If one were to tell them they have their "Christology" wrong, they would surely point to that statue and say:
"See! We not only have a statue out front devoted to Christ, we have gold-plated Him!  Don't tell us that we have our "Christology" wrong!"
So is the Doctrine of Christ important?  It is extremely important because it serves the Doctrine of Justification!  Let me repeat this:

Christology is extremely important only because it serves the central article of Christianity – 
the Doctrine of Justification.

So what am I saying?  Read Franz Pieper's defense of The Doctrine of Christ (in Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pages 53 - 394) rather than David Scaer's teaching "Christology"... because Pieper's teaching and defense never loses sight of the real reason that it is important!

And indeed, Pieper uses his over 300 pages (!) of Christology to combat the greater error of the Reformed/Calvinists who have first falsified the Doctrine of Justification (UOJ) and then proceeded to construct doctrines that justify their greater error... as they also do with the Doctrine of Election.

Again, read Pieper on Christology, his Doctrine of Christ:
  1. Buy his book Christian Dogmatics, volume 2, and read pages 53 - 394.  
  2. Read and download Paul T. McCain's blog and chart on Pieper's teaching here or here.
  3. Read Pieper's brief version in paragraph 8 of the Brief Statement.
So when you read Pieper, you will always have in view Christ's work – that God's work of redemption was all done by Himself (sola!) and that God's work of redemption was completed for all (universalis!).  Unfortunately Scaer goes off into his own "wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14) on "Christology" and the poor sinner is left wondering: "So what?"

We see what Prof. David Scaer really thinks of Pieper, even though he wants to appear as Pieper's defender, for he would put Pieper on the shelf by saying (pg 47, last paragraph):
"Pieper was not a twentieth-century theologian".  
So I wonder – who is Prof. Scaer's "twentieth-century theologian"?
  • Could it be Hermann Sasse, the great light on the doctrine of Scripture?  
  • Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer?  
  • Or maybe Carl Braaten, the great light on "theological anti­nomianism"?
  • Or maybe Richard John Neuhaus, his "friend" who converted to Roman Catholicism?  
  • Or could it be himself – since he is "Holder of the David P. Scaer Chair of Systematic and Biblical Theology"?  (Surely not, since he said that "the death of Pieper left a vacuum of theological leadership that Missouri has yet to fill")
Rather the contrary is true – Franz Pieper is The Twentieth Century Luther – no vacuum here.  So what does this make Prof. Scaer but a poor judge of theologians and theology.  And what does this make of the author of our present essay who parrots Scaer – Prof. Lawrence A. Rast, Jr., President of Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne? — "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." 1 Cor. 5:6

Let me here repeat again what Pieper said of Walther's teaching:
Therefore the doctrine of justification is “the foremost chief article of the Christian faith”.  “As long as any one has gotten no farther than to think that the doctrine of justification is also an important article he has not yet seen the light”.  All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing.  All teaching in the Church must serve this article.  Not as though one should or could urge only this article.  All revealed doctrines must be taught with the greatest care.  But even when one is treating of hell the goal must be to show the hearers the deliverance from hell.
Do you want to understand ALL theology?  Then understand and believe this first:
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son... John 3:16
  • God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them... 2 Cor. 5:19
Then you can marvel how God's Word confirms this doctrine of the Justification of the sinner before God with the Doctrine of Christ...  then you can gold-plate your Christ spiritually ... in your heart by faith!
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The next Part 3g will continue my review covering Rast's next section "Church Fellowship and the Walther Legacy".

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