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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rast–Pt 3g: Pieper-Link (Church Fellowship)

This post continues from Part 3f 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 3g covers a portion of an essay that Rast made on Franz Pieper, "A Connecting Link..." – the sub-section titled "Church Fellowship and the Walther Legacy".  The 27-page essay, one of several essays, can be downloaded here (1 MB PDF file).
(cont'd from Part 3f)
***  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)

"Church Fellowship and the Walther Legacy" (pgs 20-24)

The irony of this section is almost too much for me... that a professor of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (the LC-MS) should be the one to lecture on the topic of "Church Fellowship" and "Pieper" for a meeting sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (the ELS) and in front of a group comprised largely of members of the ELS and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (the WELS)... is astounding!  Didn't Mark Braun of the WELS write a book A Tale of Two Synods and an essay Theodore Graebner: Bellwether of Changes in the Missouri Synod?
==>>  Did no one in the room recognize this irony?
  • Did no one from the ELS recognize that they owe the birth of their synod largely to Franz Pieper and his tremendous efforts in writing Zur Einigung, a masterful essay to assist them in distinguishing the proper teaching on Conversion and Election against their opponents in the larger Norwegian Synod?
  • Did no one from the ELS remember the ... oh, enough, just read my 
Oh, I see ELS, you say you think the LC-MS changed for the better after the walkout by those who formed Seminex... you think the Preus brothers (Jacob and Robert) sufficiently set the LC-MS back on course?... sufficiently to now invite the new LC-MS to lecture to you about "Church Fellowship" and "Franz Pieper"?

OK, let us see how sufficient the change is for today's LC-MS so that one of its more "conservative" professors can speak to you, the ELS and WELS,...  you, the former members of the Synodical Conference who left fellowship with the LC-MS... all the while when both of you continue your separation from today's LC-MS.
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In this section (page 20), Prof. Rast brings in 2 antagonists who have written critical comments against Pieper: Richard Koenig and Erwin Lueker

1)  Richard Koenig:  Prof. David Scaer also uses Koenig as an antagonist in his 1993 essay "Francis Pieper" in the Handbook of Evangelical Theologians – could that be a coincidence?  Koenig was a writer for the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (ALPB)., an organization which, although it had a purpose to publicize the Lutheran Church to America, published articles critical of old Missouri almost from its beginning.  Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) gives this account of the great ALPB:
1920 – The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, organized by Synodical Conference Lutherans, adopted its constitution “to make known the teachings, principles, practise, and history of the Lutheran Church by spreading … literature,” etc. Owing to the fact that the Lutheran Church was little known by the American people and also much misunderstood, and being therefore convinced that the Lutheran Church, its doctrines and its work, ought to be given more publicity, the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau was organized in New York City in 1913 (1914).
But Mark Braun of the WELS gives this contrasting statement about the ALPB (p. 199):
[Theodore] Graebner had been involved with the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau since its inception and with its magazine The American Lutheran. ... In the beginning, the ALPB did not seek to challenge the Synod's doctrinal position but only wanted to raise a "loyal opposition voice" regarding church practices, worship, and publicity methods. But the ALPB and The American Lutheran became a gathering point for those who shared Graebner's growing disenchantment. 
Hmmm...  the CHI description of the ALPB almost sounds like it is run by the ALPB... but I digress... let us proceed.

2)  Erwin Lueker:  Who was he?  Oh, that's right, I've seen his name before, in fact I still see his name every time I go to the LC-MS sponsored website "Christian Cyclopedia"... there it says at the bottom of every page: "Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker..."  What? ... a noted LC-MS theologian and historian who was critical of Franz Pieper and drove a wedge between him and Walther on "Church Fellowship?"  Erwin Lueker had a vast knowledge of the old Missouri Synod... certainly Lawrence Rast would not contradict one of his own LC-MS church historians, would he?  (I wonder why there is no entry in the Christian Cyclopedia for Norman A. Madson Sr., the great early teacher of the ELS who warned against the LC-MS?... I will comment further on Lueker in a later essay.)

Rast now has setup his 2 antagonists – certainly Lueker is a formidable one.

But Prof. Rast immediately digresses from "Church Fellowship" as he attempts to defend Franz Pieper against Koenig's attack on Pieper's methodology of teaching Dogmatics.  So why does Prof. Rast raise this topic? — Rast immediately brings in Prof. David Scaer (again) to defend Pieper and to tell us that "Pieper regarded justification as a subsidiary article to Christology".  This is getting old, Prof. Rast, and I have sufficiently set aside Prof. Scaer's misleading arguments in my last blog post.  We can do without this misleading defense of Pieper.

Rast gets back on track by addressing Koenig's attack on "Pieper's stance on fellowship" – we're getting warm now.  And indeed, the subject now includes Koenig's attempt to put a wedge between Pieper and Walther.  And oh!... we are getting ever warmer as Rast brings in the other antagonist – Erwin Lueker who also attempted to put the same wedge between Pieper and Walther on the teaching of "Church Fellowship".  Lueker had a deeper knowledge of the old Missouri Synod (like Rast has) and could go back to the history of its early years – the "Free Conferences" of the late 1850s – to attempt to show that Walther was more lenient on church fellowship than Pieper.

At this point, Rast does a good job of defending Pieper by giving a "clearer picture of the mature Walther's position".  He quotes writings of Walther and Pieper that distinctly show their sharp stand on maintaining pure doctrine and that it takes a "holy zeal to maintain a wall of separation" from false doctrine.  The quotes are magnificent and the reader is encouraged to read them on pages 21 - 24 of Rast's essay.  I present:
a few excerpts of Walther and Pieper:
  • It takes holy zeal to maintain a wall of separation; it takes a holy fear to continue opposing the sects.
  • To remain silent in the face of false doctrine is not a demonstration of love, but rather of hate
  • The pope makes salvation uncertain and unionism makes the truth uncertain. Just as we should, therefore, be filled with true hatred against the pope, so we should be filled with hate against unionism.
  • The unionists say that love should be allowed to come into play, ... We reply: What a strange sort of love that would be which places us in glaring opposition to God’s Word!
Rast passes over the fact that CPH has ended publication of the books for one of his Walther quotes – the books Essays For The Church, Vols. I & II by C.F.W. Walther.  Should Prof. Rast not be joining my protest against his CPH for this oversight?
Rast then concludes (on page 22) that:
Lueker’s criticism of Pieper for going beyond Walther, since Walther did not demand complete agreement in doctrine and practice prior to any expression of fellowship, is not sustained by a comparison of the two men.
Rast offers his own summarizing comments on page 23:
    Here we see Pieper being consistent in his affirmation of the Reformation heritage. The Holy Scriptures clearly teach God’s truth in its fullness and purity. The Lutheran Reformation was a legitimate movement only because of its faithful confession and practice of this unchanging biblical truth. The Missouri Synod must continue in this path because the blessing of God comes in its full breadth only where this unchanging truth is confessed comprehensively
I repeat: Prof. Lawrence Rast does a good job of defending Pieper and pointing out the strength of......   what?  ==>> the old (German) Missouri Synod!

Ah, but Prof. Rast – are you trying to insinuate that your LC-MS is this same "Missouri Synod"?  Haven't you already admitted earlier in this same essay (pg. 10) that
"It is certain that with Pieper’s passing, things changed in Missouri."
And so, Dr. Rast, with this comment of yours, doesn't your defense of Pieper and Walther lose some of its luster?  Should not your readers rather be reading Walther and Pieper... and not you?
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The next Part 3h will have comments on Rast's "Conclusion" section.

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