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Sunday, August 17, 2014

God's change of heart-2: Spiritual life or death (the Christian faith stands or falls)

     This continues from Part 1-Introduction (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...
     Translating this brings tears to my eyes, for Pieper's teaching is breathtaking in its presentation of the pure Gospel message.
Underlining follows author's emphasis, highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   Part 2: Pages 897-898   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
God's Change of Heart 
in Christ's Work of Reconciliation. 
[by Prof. John Theodore Mueller] 
Dr. Pieper has often been blamed for conceiving and expounding the essence of the reconciliation that took place through Christ Jesus this way: "Reconciliation consists therein, that God in Christ or for Christ's sake changed his disposition towards man."  This sentence violates how we think, which is contrary to Scripture truth, that God from the beginning encompassed the world, also including the sinful world, with merciful love and has done everything to save it.  Or in other words, as they claim the contrary statement, which is contrary to Scripture truth, that the love of God towards man was not dead in spite of the relationship of wrath caused by sin, but is just the motive for the sending of His Son.  Thereafter, God did not need to change his disposition against the sinful world; in other words, a change of heart on God’s part towards sinful man was not at all necessary.  For this reason, one wants to recognize in the reconciliation of Christ something else, namely the result of the vicarious atonement work of Christ or the settlement of a new relationship, the relationship of peace, between God and man.  Or one summarizes the reconciliation, that is done through Christ, this way, that God had changed his judgment over the sinful world in the atoning work of Christ, so that instead of a judgment of condemnation, the judgment of justification took place. The matter is certainly important enough that we deal with it, especially since it is yet dealing with an article with which the Christian faith stands or falls.  In the locus De Reconciliatione one must particularly see clearly and distinguish sharply!
What first of all the three expressed truths involve, so we also confess them as truths that are clearly taught in Scripture. (1) The result of the reconciliation is according to Isa. 53:5 actually the settlement of a peace relationship between God [page 898] and man; because "the punishment was upon Him, that we may have peace."  (2) Furthermore, God has, because of Christ’s work of reconciliation, changed His judgment of the sinful world to its salvation.  This is expressed in the well-known passage of Paul: "As now through one sin the condemnation is come upon all men, so also through one righteousness the justification of life over all men is come," Romans 5:18 [literal from Luther’s German].  Instead of a judgment of condemnation, now it is God’s judgment of justification over the whole sinful world. (3)  Finally, this is also true, that God from the world’s beginning, covered the world, also the sinful world, with merciful love and has done everything to save it.  This truth is clearly expressed in the famous Catechism passage: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son," etc., John 3:16.  These three truths are therefore guaranteed by clear Scripture passages, and so Dr Pieper has never limited them with clauses.  He always let John 3:16, Romans 5:18 and Isaiah 53:5 come fully and completely to their application.
But these clear Scripture declarations stand throughout not contrary to what Dr. Pieper taught of God’s change of heart in Christ’s work of  reconciliation; in fact it is a clearly expressed Scripture truth on which there is no escaping.  He summed up this doctrine in a popular synodical essay as follows: "And in what does this reconciliation consist, or how is it to be understood?  It is not that mankind had changed their attitude towards God, as one erroneously construes the words of 2 Cor. 5:19.  Mankind knew nothing at all of this reconciliation.  No, the reconciliation is that God in Christ or for Christ's sake changed his attitude towards mankind.  It says: God was “not imputing their trespasses unto them (mankind)."  Mankind had sinned and had thus earned God’s wrath, and mankind could not turn away that anger with everything they had and did.  But for Christ's sake God does not impute to men their sins, that is, he forgives the sins, sees mankind like so, as if they had not sinned at all.  Indeed, he has removed the sins of man from his entry in the debt register, has at the place of wrath in his heart put grace." (Synodical Report, Southern-Illinois District 1916, page 17 -> see essay # 3 in the book What Is Christianity? And Other Essays).
Dr. Pieper certainly could not have expressed himself more clearly over the matter.  God has changed his disposition towards man, and precisely therein exists the reconciliation.  He has stricken the sins of the man from his debt register; he has let step in at the place of anger in his heart grace.  Thus, in the reconciling work of Christ actually a change of mind in God occurred; in other words, God was swayed by the work of reconciliation.  Just this Dr. Pieper wanted to have taught and have believed, not [page 899] only by pastors, but also by laymen;
- - - - - - - - - - - continued in Part 3  - - - - - - - - - - -

In section # 1. above, Mueller begins to give an idea of the deceptive way that modern theology mixes an untruth with the truth.  At first glance, one may miss it, but not Prof. Pieper.  No, Franz Pieper never lets any doubt slip in, be it ever so deceptive.  To argue against Pieper is to argue against God's Word... period.  Only a true Lutheran can teach John 3:16 rightly.  How little teaching like this is found in today's modern theological world, especially today's LC-MS.  One has to go Back To Luther (and Walther) to find it... as we shall see later in this essay.  (Hmmm, doesn't that make Pieper the actual Twentieth Century Luther?)  Lutherans... wake up!  It is the Lutheran Church that is the actual Church of the Bible!... and no one else.  This essay is far from over... Pieper is not content to leave this topic without hammering it home... ad nauseum!  In the next Part 3...

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