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Saturday, August 16, 2014

God's change of heart-1: Pieper & God vindicated by J.T. Mueller

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself...  2 Cor. 5:19
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In a previous blog post about 2 years ago, I brought up a quote from Franz Pieper to refute those who would begin to call into question God's serious will that all might be saved (Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pg 346):
2 Cor. 5:19 furnishes additional proof that by the objective reconciliation which Christ has effected a change of heart took place, not in men, but in God.
John Theodore Mueller
1885–1967
(from 1967 CTM, pg 497)
Before December 1939 (when Theo. Graebner gave birth to today's LC-MS, the Graebner Synod), but after 1931 (when Franz Pieper died), there were still voices in the old Missouri that had not bowed down to the forces against it.  One of the better examples of this came from the pen of John Theodore Mueller (JTM) in the pages of the journal Concordia Theological Monthly, December 1934.  What was it that compelled Prof. Mueller to put the pen in hand?  It was because he saw that the grace of God, the grace that Franz Pieper proclaimed and defended all his life, was being questioned.  But questioned by whom?  Read on...
     So what is the fuss all about?  In Pieper's original German language Christliche Dogmatik, Bande II, it says (pgs 409-410):
Daß es sich bei der Versöhnung der Welt, die durch Christum geschehen ist, um eine Gesinnungsänderung nicht auf seiten der Menschen, sondern auf seiten Gottes handelt, ist ja auch ausdrücklich 2 Kor. 5, 19 gesagt, wo das κόσμον καταλλάσσων έαντω näher bestimmt wird durch μη λογιζόμένος αυτόις τά παραπτώματα αυτών. (Emphasis from original)
The above original German of Pieper can be translated (largely by Google Translate) thus:
That this order is not a change of heart [or change of mind] on the part of men, but on God's part in the reconciliation of the world, which is done through Christ, is indeed expressly told in 2 Cor. 5:19 where the κόσμον καταλλάσσων έαντω is qualified by μη λογιζόμένος αυτόις τά παραπτώματα αυτών.
For those who don't have a Greek New Testament handy (like me), Pieper is identifying the exact Greek words in the original Bible language.  But it doesn't really matter as even my KJV translates this well enough.  The English translation of Engelder/Mueller/Albrecht dispensed with the original Greek text and published this translation of Pieper's German (my bolding):
2 Cor. 5:19 furnishes additional proof that by the objective recon­ciliation which Christ has effected a change of heart took place, not in men, but in God. "Reconciling the world unto Himself" is defined as "not imputing their trespasses unto them." (Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pg 346)
Do you get the idea?  It has to do with the question of "What Is Christianity?", namely,

God is already reconciled to the whole world!

Now is it clear?  God has spoken...  and this message was hammered home to the students of Concordia Seminary by its President Franz Pieper throughout his lifetime, until the day he died in 1931.
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God's Change of Heart in Christ's Work of Reconciliation

But who would try to distort and crush the Greatest News the world will ever receive?  Prof. Mueller will give us details of Pieper's pure proclamation and how it was being questioned and by whom... in 1934.  To the right is the heading of how it was published..  Translated, the essay title reads:
God's Change of Heart in Christ's Work of Reconciliation

I am including a link to a scanned copy PDF of this essay (since it is not publicly available) -->  here .
A German text transcription document is available -->  here .
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I do not put Prof. Mueller in my top tier of theologians from the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Mueller was among the Concordia Seminary professors who attended non-Lutheran universities for theological degrees, earning a Th.D. from Xenia Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution.  He also went to a Reformed book publisher (Zondervan, 1954) to present his translation of Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.  This seems strange to me as he was one of the stronger members of the faculty to attempt to maintain the pure Gospel.  But it may also explain why Mueller did not follow P.E. Kretzmann in leaving the LC-MS while Theodore Graebner was spearheading its demise.  At times Hermann Otten (of Christian News) will write about Mueller, enjoying the fact that he received support from Mueller.  But it is difficult to get much of a spiritual picture from Otten.  Nonetheless, Prof. Mueller is to be highly commended for his
  1. strong stand in this current essay on God's Change of Heart
  2. abbreviated 1-volume Christian Dogmatics book based on Pieper's 3-volume set (download here)
  3. assistance in producing the full English translation of Pieper's Christian Dogmatics (4-vol. set)
  4. translation of some of Walther's works
So now in Part 2, I begin presenting the English translation of one of the best essays every published in the LC-MS after the death of Franz Pieper – in December, 1934.  This will lead into some unexpected territory... and a discussion concerning another member of the old Synodical Conference.
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Table of Contents:
Part 1 - Introduction: Pieper & God vindicated by J.T. Mueller
Part 2 - Pages 897-898: Spiritual life or death (the Christian faith stands or falls)
Part 3 - Pages 899-900: criticism inside Synod?; German theology; "ponderous Pieper"?
Part 4 - Pgs 901-902: Pieper's hammer falls–"New relationship" or God's action; anthropopathy; problem?
    Excursus: Luther/Pieper: Unbelievers ⇒ Hell (on Jn 1:29; or, "get what he has coming to him")
Part 5 - Pgs 903-904: Pieper in Luther's steps (but not today's LC-MS)
Part 6a - Pgs 905-906: But enough, just biblical truth; Lutheran hymns tell story
Part 6b - WELS opposes? (Curia essay)
Part 6c - WELS opposes? Adolf Hoenecke? (Curia essay)
Part 6d - WELS opposes? Siegbert Becker? (Curia essay)
Part 6e - WELS opposes? John P. Meyer? ... a matter of spiritual life or death
Part 6f - WELS opposes? Not all did...
Part 6g - WELS opposes? Curia's fall... (on your deathbed)

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