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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Triglotta - Pieper – Scripture Principle (Part 4c)

This continues from Part 4b reviewing the newly available book Concordia Triglotta from CPH. (See Table of Contents here)  This Part 4c continues my translation of Franz Pieper's essay on the appearance of the original book in 1921.  Pieper, after quoting Bente's Preface which sweeps away any earthly glory of the Lutheran Church, highlights its true glory.  And now it is time for Pieper to give his own comments on the foundation of the Lutheran Confessions.  And anyone who will not listen to Pieper does not know the Lutheran Confessions...

Pieper's essay is indented. My interspersed comments are in green
Underlining is in the original.  Highlighting is mine. 
Hyperlinks added including page links to original essay in Google Books.
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"Concordia Triglotta"
by Franz Pieper
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 67 (1921), pgs 297-301
(continued from Part 4b)

We would still like to add some words concerning the rich treasure which the Lutheran Church possesses in her confession.
Christianity is unfortunately divided into many parties.  It ever continues, ever more is fulfilled what the Apostle Paul pronounced in Miletus [page 299] before the elders from Ephesus: "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." Acts 20:30.  But it can be said of the Lutheran Church that it assumes no party status in Christendom.  The reason for this is that it assumes no special doctrines, but only teaches and confesses God's will and order what all Christians believe and confess.  Not just to theoretically represent the Scripture principle, they actually hold to it in the discourse of all doctrines that have become disputed.  This is irrefutably straight from the confessional writings.  The proof is to be led naturally by way of induction.  Also the Triglotta presents on page 1158 ff. an index of Scripture passages that are either mentioned in the confessions, or where they are pointed out.  There are almost 1000 Scripture passages, and we call on everyone who wants to examine the scripturalness of the Lutheran Confessions to do this: Take and read the Confessions and their Scripture proofs and convince yourself that the doctrines known there of convincing proof is taught from Scripture, even if you should believe that among the Scriptures abundantly given, one or the other is less clear or should be at a different place.  So you can examine the Confessions on their Scripture evidence.  We follow this procedure in our St. Louis institution, to continually remind our students this way so that they do not to enter into the office of ministry with doubts as to the conformity of the Lutheran Confessions to Scripture.  In the last academic year we particularly urged once again that students read the confessional writings in their context and pay close attention to the Scripture proof.

I was fooled for awhile into thinking that some of the Reformed church bodies, especially those considered more "conservative" were equal to the Lutheran Church... were equally as "scriptural" as the Lutheran Church, but this is not so.  I learned this from John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world...") and other passages like it.

Now Pieper points out one of the major weaknesses of Germany's theologians – their charge that the Confessions were scripturally weak...

As everybody knows, it has often been said in recent times that the Lutheran Confessions are weak in Scripture proofs.  This has been repeated without checking by certain rather vocal leaders and is generally also held of the old Lutheran teachers.   [Franz Hermann Reinhold von] Frank also says this in relation to the Formula of Concord and the theologians of that time. (Die Theologie der Konkordienformel, IV, 178 f.)  But Frank is in error.  We have already demonstrated elsewhere with examples, that where Frank finds a weakness in the Scripture proof of the Formula of Concord, this weakness exists on his (Frank's) side. (F. Pieper, Christliche Dogmatik, II, 177III, 541Christian Dogmatics II, 160III, 478)  The fact is that the Scripture proofs of the Confessions, and especially of the Formula of Concord, are more careful than in any modern theological writing where the attempt is made to represent Christian doctrine.  That is already in the nature of the matter.  The Confessions of the Lutheran Church date from the Reformation century.  And this was a truly great time as also modern Lutherans nevertheless still admit.  Thus it is unlikely already a priori [page 300] that anyone in this great time would have prevailed against the papacy and pseudo-Reformation by relying on a weak Scripture proof.  Also, do not forget that one dealt in that great time with quick-witted and devious opponents.  So they were compelled to pay careful attention to text and context of the Scriptural statements already by this fact.  But we repeat: Just read the Confessions, check their Scripture evidence and convince yourself that a more than adequate scriptural proof is made.  You should only keep an eye to what is truly a proof from Scripture, namely, not a human gloss or exegesis over a Scripture passage, but the quotation of the clear word of Scripture itself, as Luther often reminds

It is sad to see that the theologians of Germany, the land of Luther, would largely be the ones who would lead the people away from Scripture and so away from Luther. Pieper had to show the Missouri Synod that they should not fall back on the erring teachers of their former homeland... but stick to the Confessions.
The above paragraph takes us back to the Reformation century. And in spite of what the editors of today's CPH say, it was only Luther's Reformation!

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In the next Part 4d, Pieper quotes Martin Luther to hammer home just who used the Scriptures as their basis – Luther and the Lutheran Confessions.

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