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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walther: All Reformed sects... were first Lutheran

I spoke in an earlier blog of the confusion of CPH editors on what a "sect" actually is.  It is especially troubling when they attribute their confusion to C.F.W. Walther, since he left no doubt of what constitutes a "sect".  Here is one of his more forceful statements on this subject:
Addresses and Prayers
by C.F.W. Walther
Tr. by Joel R. Baseley
"All of the sects, which have separated from the papacy, were originally Lutheran Churches. The Swiss, the French, the Dutch, the English and the Scottish, so-called Reformed sects were all originally Lutheran, and they have Luther’s Reformation to thank for whatever good things they still retain. Their first martyrs were Lutheran martyrs and were slain, decapitated, burned, entombed alive, hanged, drowned, and assassinated by poison, and the like, by the papists as Lutherans. Indeed, these sects all claim to be more purified of papistic error than the Lutheran Church, but their alleged greater purity consists of their having rejected those doctrines which they cannot, in any way, force to harmonize with their reason." – From Addresses and Prayers, by C.F.W. Walther, page 13, translation by Pastor Joel Baseley from the German Ansprachen und Gebete, page 11.
Today the sects rarely, if ever, thank Luther's Reformation... maybe even criticize and condemn Luther?   Well then we see how much they have departed even from their own roots.

Oh, but what about those who would call themselves by the name "Lutheran", yes, even today's LC-MS?  Didn't they condemn Luther and don't they now even speak of the Bible as a "plastic text"?  Oh, now who's calling who a "sect"?

Monday, August 25, 2014

God's chg of heart-6a: But enough, just biblical truth; Lutheran hymns tell story

     This continues and concludes from Part 5 (Table of Contents in Part 1) presenting my (BTL) translation of J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is he defending against?  Read on...  (this Part 6a concludes the essay, but not my comments)
     In this final installment of the essay, Prof. Mueller concludes his section of quotes from Luther and (as if with a sigh) says "But enough", as if to say "Why is this defense even necessary since this doctrine is so plainly taught in Scripture".  He then appeals to Christianity of all times, quoting hymns from the ages that confirm the Christian's hope in Christ.
Underlining follows author's emphasis, highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   Part 6a: Pages 905-906   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
God's Change of Heart 
in Christ's Work of Reconciliation. 
[by Prof. John Theodore Mueller] 
Again: "That was God's will that He would be a slaughter offering, a reconciliation, a ransom, a redemption, a payment for the sins.  For the wrath of God can not be otherwise reconciled and abolished as by such and so great a sacrifice. as the Son of God, who could not sin.  There was no other sacrifice through which God could be reconciled, as this sacrifice when Christ gave his life for the ascham [guilt offering - Hebrew אָשָׁם]." (St L ed., vol. 6, col. 709, paragr. 175; Am. Ed. vol. 17 uses different version than St. L. ed.)  Also in his exposition of John 18 [19]:28-30 Luther writes of the whole reconciling work of Christ in summary: "The true High Priest has finished His sacrifice, God’s Son has given and sacrificed his body and life as a ransom for sin; and sin is cancelled, God’s wrath reconciled, death overcome, the kingdom of heaven acquired and Heaven opened." (St L ed., vol. 8, col. 962, paragr. 107; not in Am. Ed.)
But enough.  Whoever teaches the satisfactio vicaria according to the Scriptures, cannot sing otherwise, in view of the reconciling death of Christ, than as the hymn-writer: [translation by Peter Krey]
We are the apple of God’s eye
in unceasing peace we now abide
All strife will now be ending.
Indeed, he sings with Paul Gerhardt, who said of the Heavenly Father:
"Go forth, My Son," the Father saith,
"And free men from the fear of death,
From guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Thy Passion men shall share
The fruit of Thy salvation."
[TLH 142, verse 2b and Walther’s Hymnal, #73, verse 2b, pg 50; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #73, verse 2b; ]
And for him, that is the essence of reconciliation; God has let go His anger for the sake of His dear Son; the penalty is carried; the debt is repaid; the wrath is extinguished.  But that is understood by every believer in Christ under Christ's reconciliation.  He confesses:
Now the wrath of God is stilled,
Jesus bore thy condemnation .
He the Law's demands fulfilled,
Cleansed thy sin, and brought salvation.
Death and hell from pow'r are driven,
Thou art now an heir of heaven!
[translation from Walther’s Hymnal, pg 59; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #81, verse 4; melody TLH 16]
How God at our transgression
To anger gives expression,
How loud His thunder rolls,
How fearfully He smiteth,
How sorely He requiteth,–
All this Thy sufferings teach my soul.
[translation from TLH 171 verse 10, and  Walther’s Hymnal, pg 67; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #89, verse 12]
[page 906]  Or:
My manifold transgression
Henceforth can harm me none
Since Jesus' bloody Passion
For me God's grace hath won.
His precious blood my debts hath paid;
Of hell and all its torments
I am no more afraid.
[translation from TLH 152 verse 3, and  Walther’s Hymnal, pg 71; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #94, verse 3]
So confesses the whole Lutheran Christian people in their church hymns, on the one hand, the great wrath of God against sin, on the other hand, the beautiful fruit of the passion of Jesus: the change of disposition in God or God's Change of Heart in Christ's Work of Reconciliation: "I am with God in grace."  And thereby the Christian faith will remain.
But even if one regards the reconciliation much as the settlement of a peace relationship between God and man, one must have to start from the change of heart in God by Christ’s reconciling work. For where a relationship of peace has been created, anger must have been previously present, and so the settlement of a peace relation between God and man in itself includes the change of God in the work of our redeeming Savior.  Again, one understands the reconciliation in such a way as if it consisted in the fact substantially that God has changed his judgment against man in Christ or for Christ sake, the changed judgment assumes also very much the changed disposition of God.  The condemnation came in wrath; the judgment of justification flows from the grace and love acquired by Christ's blood and death. God is reconciled, precisely because of its demanding and punitive justice has been satisfied, so that in fact his grace and love now freely rule and reign and he forgives all sins for the sake of Christ's vicarious satisfaction, indeed already long ago has forgiven.
He, born free of sin and its stain,
Took God's wrath, bore our pain,
Became our Savior,
And brings to us God's favor.
[Walther’s Hymnal, #110, pg 83; not in TLH; Kirchen-Gesangbuch, #110, verse 2; or alternate translation:
This Man born without a stain
Took God’s wrath, bore our pain,
Won restoration,
God’s peace, a free salvation.
This magnificent confession of Luther is but truly the confession of all believers in Christ. Therefore, it should also be said frankly and freely in all theological expositions.  God’s change of heart in the reconciling work of Christ is just biblical truth.
J. T. Mueller.
- - - - - - - - - - - End of Essay  - - - - - - - - - - -

     Mueller may have even added to Pieper's wonderful defense of Christian doctrine by showing us that the teaching which wants to exclude a change in God's heart by only speaking of a so-called "peace relationship" between God and man, contradicts itself because it implies that there once was a relationship of wrath.  And so modern theology's half-hearted attempt at the Gospel is just that, half-hearted.  But God's heart is different... that is not how God's Word presents His reconciliation to us.  It took a Martin Luther to uncover again for us exactly what the Word is saying to us... and a Franz Pieper to keep it alive in the 20th Century. —
Walther's Hymnal
     Mueller's final section "6." appeals to the great Lutheran hymns and I had to research Lutheran hymnody, German and English.  What a glorious task!  A somewhat recent book published by Concordia Publishing House was a translation of the old (German) Missouri Synod's hymnbook –Walther's Hymnal, edited and translated by Matthew Carver from the old hymnal Kirchen-Gesangbuch.  Although I was raised with English The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) and still value it, yet this English translation of "Walther's Hymnal" is a wonderful resource for going back to the old (German) Missouri Synod, while reading it in English.  But I wonder if even Matthew Carver realizes the importance of what he has produced. — And another musical resource I discovered was the CD (and MP3s) of Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth, first offered about 10 years ago.  I notice that it was produced here in Indiana, with some portion at Advent Lutheran Church in Zionsville.  For those who would fault Dr. Pieper on his teaching, they will have to swallow their words as they sing the great Lutheran hymns of Luther, Paul Gerhardt, and others. —
     Yes, Prof. J.T. Mueller should be honored in our memory for this magnificent essay.  But were he alive today, I would have to ask Prof. Mueller: Did you learn this doctrine of "God's Change Of Heart" from the Presbyterian-Calvinist Xenia Theological Seminary... or rather from your Lutheran fathers in the faith, Walther and Franz Pieper?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I  spoke earlier of those who opposed Pieper's teaching: German theologians, other American Lutheran teachers and ... a former member of the Synodical Conference.  In the next Part 6b, I will address a surprising source of disagreement... from the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod, the WELS (?)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

God's change of heart-5: Pieper in Luther's steps (but not today's LC-MS)

     This continues from Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1) presenting my (BTL) translation of J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is he defending against?  Read on...
     In the last Part, Mueller names names of those whom Pieper had to defend the Christian doctrine against – they were all well-known German theologians: Ihmels, Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Hofmann.  It was their type of teaching that caused some of the German Lutherans to depart their fatherland and travel to the New World – America – so that they could flee the tyranny that was destroying true Lutheran (i.e. Christian) teaching.  But what about the other groups that I mentioned earlier, the other American Lutherans, and even another member of the Synodical Conference?  I will have more to say on these later...
     In this section, Luther is brought to bear on the subject matter of this essay.  Prof. Mueller shows that he did not follow the new path that most were following in the emerging new (English) Missouri Synod even in 1934.  He makes a striking statement that would be overlooked by others surrounding him:
...Dr. Pieper here walks completely in the steps of the great reformer [Martin Luther].
Could it be that Prof. John Theodore Mueller was the first to say:

Underlining follows author's emphasis, highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   Part 5: Pages 903-904   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
God's Change of Heart 
in Christ's Work of Reconciliation. 
[by Prof. John Theodore Mueller] 
[page 903]… Luther warns us immediately also against philosophizing on the word of God in theology.  He writes: "Now there belongs a higher knowledge, that one may meet [God] properly and not miss Him.  For where one meets Him rightly, there must be His Word that teaches us; our reason and cleverness will long not find." (St L ed., vol. 3, col. 579, paragr. 4; not in Am. Ed.)  Also Luther's stern warning is important: "Yet you must guard yourself, so that you add nothing to, nor take away from what God has revealed.  But if you will let go the God who has thus revealed Himself to us, and you will want to seek God and explore how and what he is in his divine nature, His majesty will be too heavy for you, and you will be consumed, Prov. 25:27; ‘For our God is a consuming fire’, Heb. 12:29, and ‘dwells in a light which no man can approach’, 1 Tim. 6:16.  Therefore remain with the announced and revealed God, over which rises the Antichrist, that is, the Pope in Rome, and the Turk too." (St L ed., vol. 1, col. 1064, paragrs. 229-230; cp. Am. Ed. vol. 3., pg 122)  Luther sharpens this one truth almost ad nauseam. Again and again  he comes back to the fact that one should seek God only this way and explore how He has revealed Himself to us in the words of Scripture.  He writes. "God lets himself down in such form, whereby we grasp Him and can understand, and shows Himself in parables, as in coverings, according to childlike simplicity." (St L ed., vol. 1, col. 487, paragr. 161 ; Am. Ed. vol 2, pg 45)  "One should not measure, judge nor direct God in His works, but He is supposed to measure everything and judge."  (St L ed., vol. 3, col. 818-819, paragr. 38; not in Am. Ed.).  "We should deal with God, as He has revealed Himself and speaks to us; but we should deal with God who is silent and hidden in his majesty." (St. L. ed., vol. 22, col. 1061, top of column; not in Am. Ed.).  "Whoever wants to know how God is disposed towards us, begins at the bottom, and learns in the first place what he has done here on Earth as he has revealed to us humans." (St L ed., vol. 13, col. 133, paragr. 38; not in Am. Ed.).  "Scripture paints God for us as a man, so that we guard against the curiosity of human reason and wisdom, which will investigate the majesty." (St L ed., vol. 1, col. 1536, parag. 160;  Cp. Am. Ed. vol 4, pg 133).  Given the modern subjectivist theology of men, we have every reason to heed these hints and warnings of Luther thoroughly.
Lutheran theologians are accustomed to base their theology on Luther, as the great model Scripture theologian.  Whoever now compares Dr. Pieper's teaching on "God's Change of Heart in Christ's Work of Reconciliation" with that of Luther finds out immediately, [page 904] that Dr. Pieper here walks completely in the steps of the great reformer.  Dr. Pieper urges "God’s change of mind" not one whit more powerfully than Luther does.  Luther writes: "What is meant where he says that he was ’sacrificed for us,’ we have heard in the preaching of the sufferings of Christ, and we are to think of this in two ways.  (1) First, that we consider the great, serious and terrifying wrath of God against sin in that such anger could be averted through no other way, and the reconciliation could be purchased through no payment than by this single sacrifice, that is, the death and blood of the Son of God, and that we all with our sins incurred such wrath of God, and have been the cause that the Son of God had to be sacrificed on the cross and his blood shed.   Such should work in us that we are seriously offended by our sin; for God’s wrath cannot be trivial when we are told no sacrifice save alone the Son of God, and do you think that you may bear such wrath, or withstand it if you do not pay attention nor recognize this?
"(2) On the other hand, must one also herein regard and recognize God's inexpressible grace and love toward us.  Only so can the human heart in such horror of its sin rise again and remember, why God is doing this, that He spared not His own Son, and then offered Him as the sacrifice upon the cross and delivered Him to death, namely, that His wrath might be lifted from us once more?...  what can be imagined for greater love and kindness? … Then hereby you can see and grasp that He does not want that you should be lost because of your sins, how He gives you such sacrifice as the highest and most dearest pledge of His grace and your salvation.  Therefore, although your sin and the wrath that your sin deserves is great, so is yet this sacrifice and the death of God’s Son much greater, which He grants you a certain sign that for the same sake His will is to be merciful to you and forgives your sin." (St L ed., vol. 12, 487-488, paragrs. 24-25; Lenker, Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 7, pg 190-191: Easter Sunday; not in Am. Ed.)
And again: "This is such a work [Christ's atoning death] that is so pleasing to God, that He will thereby be reconciled and as such assumes the payment for all the sins of the world.  Now but God's wrath against sin is so great that no one may turn it away except the eternal Person, the Son of God himself, who himself must be the sacrifice and must let His body be nailed to the cross.…  Because no one else on earth (since they are all sinners and unclean) can be sacrificed for it, only God's dearly beloved Son, who is without all sin....    Through this single sacrifice our sin is taken away and grace and forgiveness have been purchased for us, which [page 905] can not otherwise be received by us than by faith." (St L ed., vol. 12, col. 559, paragr. 37; Lenker, Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 7, pg 265-266: Second Sunday After Easter; not in Am. Ed.)
- - - - - - - - - - - conclusion in Part 6a  - - - - - - - - - - -

Mueller makes a statement above that cannot be ignored:
Lutheran theologians are accustomed to base their theology on Luther, as the great model Scripture theologian.
So what does that make an LC-MS professor who now uses the phrase "plastic text" in relation to the Bible?  Although there is much reasoning and cleverness attempting to explain this phrase, yet the phrase itself tells the story.  It would seem that this professor is not a Lutheran theologian, but a "Lutheran" theologian.  As Luther puts it: "our reason and cleverness will long not find [God]".
     In the next Part 6a is the conclusion of Mueller's essay ... "But enough".