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Friday, September 6, 2013

Grace.–F. Pieper (Part 7- how to kill faith)

Continued from Part 6, a translation of Franz Pieper's essay "Grace" from Lehre und Wehre in 1904 (Table of Contents in Part 1).  This installment expands Pieper's exposé of the wolves in sheeps clothing within the Lutheran church – teachers who falsify this basic teaching of Christianity and so prevent and kill Christian faith.
Underlining is in the original, highlighting is mine.
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by Franz Pieper
(continued from Part 6)
     Through the introduction of better performance or lower debt on the part of those who are converted and saved, the scriptural notion of grace is destroyed, as well as the scriptural concept of faith.  Quite correctly the Apology [of Augsburg Confession, Of Justification – Article IV (II), paragraph 55] says: "As often as we speak of faith, we wish an object to be understood, namely, the promised mercy."  The faith which justifies and saves has as its object the pure, unveiled grace of God.  He believes that God accepts the ungodly (τὸν ἀσεβῆ, Romans 4:5).  If one gives him another object – one persuades him that God accepts him who, compared at least to others, is better and in lesser debt – so faith will cease to exist and unbelief steps in its place which builds not on pure grace, but on merits and works.
     So then also through this doctrine are the people held back, and the lesser debt instead of grace prevents the people from conversion or coming to faith.  What did great damage to Israel?  Why was the great mass of Jews in the time of Christ unbelieving?  Because they claimed an advantage over the Gentiles, because they (page 438) kept themselves better in comparison with the Gentiles.  They well wanted "grace" – as the Pharisee in his prayer yet wants to "thank" God - yet but alongside a grace which also is the preference for recognition.  They wanted not to be justified and saved "purely by grace".  To them was Christ, who only out of grace – of real grace, not of limited grace – justifies and saves,  the "stumbling stone" and "rock of offense", Romans 9:32-33.  So even now. As long as anyone discovers merits before God when compared with others in himself, as long as the sinner's confession has the form: "Pastor, I am far from the worst," so long we have yet to deal with a self-righteousness which is not yet accepting grace.  As long as Melanchthon, Latermann [Wikipedia article], Dieckhoff, Ohio and Iowa [Synods], etc. inculcate that the grace of God converts and saves by a lesser debt, lesser reluctance, better behavior, so long as they maintain the carnal self-confidence, the delusion from one being better in comparison with others, so long as they hinder the "shattered" and "broken heart" to come, from which the Scripture speaks so often, and so long also as they hinder faith from arising in the heart to graceIn short, if we want to discourage anyone from believing in Christ, prevent his conversion, we merely need to convince him that compared with others he has an advantage in himself before God that he is not yet the worst before God.  And if we want someone who has already come to faith to fall from faith, we need merely to convince him that there was something in him, better behavior towards grace etc., that God looks at this for perseverance in faith: then he falls from faith.  The Apostle Paul calls the believers from among the nations that wanted to answer those unbelieving Jews: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Romans 11:22.  The faith by which we stand in grace, and remain in grace, that is hanging on the unadulterated grace, on the free mercy.  Every limitation of the concept of grace is the death of justifying and saving faith.  “Thus when the Scripture speaks of faith, it means the faith which builds on nothing but pure grace.”  All those who have by God's grace seeing eyes, should therefore always for Christianity pray and confirm: We flee like death and hell the error that in us is a causa discriminis [discriminating cause] as a reason to explain our conversion, our election, our salvation.  It is a terrible and pernicious error. It therefore nullifies grace and thus Christianity.
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Yes, that is my confession:
"I flee like death and hell the error that in me is a discriminating cause as a reason to explain my conversion, my election, my salvation."
In fact, I fled so far, that I find myself completely out of today's external churches!  I believe that I am no better than Judas!  And to bow to today's modernists, I am no better than Adolf Hitler – but that is a joke, as if Adolf Hitler would be worse before God than Judas ... or any other man.

The reader will notice the notorious "Lutheran" lineup of teachers falsifying the doctrine of Grace starting with Melanchthon and ending with Pieper's contemporary American Lutherans – the "Ohio and Iowa" Synods, essentially todays ELCA.  Pieper does not mind being called a "devil's apostle" by these so-called Lutherans.  Pieper was bringing the problem to the "here and now" that today's LC-MS President Matthew Harrison claims to be concerned about.  In the next concluding Part 8, Pieper further elaborates on the current circumstances in "American Lutheranism".

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