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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grace. – F. Pieper (Part 5- Confessions/Augustine, "no limitations")

Continued from Part 4, a translation of Franz Pieper's essay "Grace" from Lehre und Wehre in 1904 (Table of Contents in Part 1).  This installment highlights the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions and Saint Augustine, on what "grace" is and is not.
Underlining is in the original, highlighting is mine.
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by Franz Pieper
(continued from Part 4)
     "Grace admits of no qualifications." Grace allows no limitations, especially not the limitation that he who is faithful and saved, compared with others is less wicked, less resistive, less guilty before God.   This thought also our Lutheran Confessions bring very sharp.  The Formula Concord says of believers in comparing them with unbelievers: "equally guilty", “nos cum illis collati et quam simillimi illis deprehensi”, "us compared with them (the reprobate) are found quite the same as them".  That is the scriptural concept of grace.  Whoever limits the concept of grace such that he says: The grace which makes those saved in comparison to the lost to be in lesser guilt before God, less wicked, less reluctant, etc., he has given up the Christian concept of grace.  He basically understands nothing about Christianity. That's not saying too much.  Augustine's dictum: “Gratia non est gratia ullo modo, si non gratis datur omni modo” is scriptural. ["Grace is no more grace in any manner, if it is not given free gratis in every way"].  All those deny grace completely who teach that the grace with those who are saved presupposes better behavior, lesser guilt, lesser reluctance, etc..  Christianity must escape the error like poison that in us, in our behavior, in our lesser reluctance, in our lesser guilt, is a reason to explain our conversion, our perseverance, our salvation, our election.  This error destroys the concept of grace. This error turns the Christian confession of the Apostle: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." [1 Tim. 1:15] into the pharisaical saying: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am still far from the worst."  This error turns the Christian confession of the publican: "God be merciful to me a sinner!" [Luke 18:13] into the unchristian speech of the Pharisee: "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." [Luke 18:11]
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Who is it that "basically understands nothing about Christianity"?  Who "poisons" Christianity?  Who destroys the teaching of God's grace?  Those who limit God's grace by putting some reason in man why he is converted and saved.

In a previous blog, I published Pieper's defense against other American Lutherans who close the door to heaven.  In the next Part 6, Pieper points out how even teachers and pastors in the Lutheran church have falsified the teaching of grace, to disastrous consequences.

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