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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

God's change of heart-3: criticism inside Synod?; German theology; "ponderous Pieper"?

     This continues from Part 2 (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...
     Mueller makes a striking statement in this installment saying:
[Pieper] was not unconscious that criticism could be leveled at his presentation inside and outside the Synod.
     Was Mueller already aware in 1934 of the impending disastrous fall of the old Missouri Synod from inside the Synod?  Perhaps he already knew that his colleague Theodore Graebner was like a pot ready to boil over from his unionistic tendencies.  And what was Mueller thinking when he said "outside the Synod"?  Did he mean German theologians, or other American Lutheran theologians, or could he have meant also other members of the Synodical Conference?  I wonder that he meant all three, and I will address another member of the Synodical Conference later.
     After laying the foundation of the doctrine as Pieper taught it in a 1916 district essay, straight from John 3:16, Romans 5:18, and Isaiah 53:5, Prof. Mueller proceeds to present what Pieper taught in his magnum opus, Christliche Dogmatik or the translated version Christian Dogmatics.

Underlining follows author's emphasis, highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =   Part 3: Pages 899-900   = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
God's Change of Heart 
in Christ's Work of Reconciliation. 
[by Prof. John Theodore Mueller] 
[page 899] ... since the presentation was directed mostly to the delegates attending the synodical assembly. Therefore he spake also so clear, sharp and unmistakable.  He was well aware that the essay would be printed, distributed and neutralized [by opponents].  He was not unaware that criticism could be leveled at his presentation inside and outside the Synod.  Nevertheless, he wrote in the presentation: "Reconciliation consists therein, that God in Christ or for Christ's sake changed his disposition towards man."
But what Dr. Pieper has said in the above cited synodical essay, he has said before time and time again.  To him, the Lutheran theologian, this was biblical-Lutheran doctrine.  In his "Christliche Dogmatik" [vol. 2, page 409] for example, we find the following sentences: "Scripture expresses clearly also that through Christ's vicarious obedience and suffering, God's wrath against man, or – what is the same – God's condemnation of mankind is now completely abolished.  Romans 5:18: ‘Through one (namely Christ) righteousness (δικαίωμα, verse 19: νπακοή) is the justification of life come over all mankind’; Romans 5:10: ‘We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, since we still were God's enemies (εχθροι, passive: Deo invisi-hated by God).’  Rightly Luthardt remarks on the latter point: ‘A change of attitude on the part of God is meant.‘  That the reconciliation of the world, that has happened through Christ, is a change not on part of man, but on the part of God, is indeed also expressly stated in 2 Cor 5:19, where the κόσμον καταλλάσσων εαντώ is determined by μη λογιζόμενος αντοΐς τα παραπτώματα αυτών.  [or "Reconciling the world unto Himself" is defined as "not imputing their trespasses unto them."]   The reconciliation of man with God took place in that God by himself in his heart (in foro divino-in the divine forum) was not imputing the sins of man, but forgave them, so the anger over the sins of the man had come to an end, not by His absolute plenitude of power, but by the coming in between of Christ as a mediator. . . . This is the doctrine of Scripture on the reconciliation of the world, which has come about through the incarnate Son of God. "(Christliche Dogmatik, Zweiter Bande, pg 409-410; cp. Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pg 346) [Note on Meyer, Kritisch Exegetisch Kommentar, 2 Cor. 5:18 v. 6, pg 178 here, English translation here, “objectively accomplished reconciliation” here, pg 538]
On the same topic Dr. Pieper speaks yet later, when under the heading "The Appropriation [or Application] of Salvation” he writes: "It is assumed that the objective reconciliation or justification of the whole sinful world.  All that Scripture teaches of the appropriation of salvation, bases it on the backwards lying, historically completed fact that through Christ's vicarious satisfaction God has reconciled Himself to mankind.  This reconciliation is, as we have seen, not in a change of heart on the part of men, [page 900] but in a change of heart on the part of God in this way, that God by Himself, "before his divine Forum",  put in the place of His wrath over the sins of mankind, forgiveness of their sins. . . .  2 Cor 5:19; Romans 5:18. . . .   It is in these scriptural statements speaking not only of a new relationship between God and man, but quite explicitly by an action of God in relation to man, namely, by the action of God, where he does not impute to men their sins, forgave them their sins, justified them in His heart. This is the meaning of the objective reconciliation, as taught in 2 Cor. 5:19; Romans 5:18-19; 5:10; 4:25." (Christliche Dogmatik, Zweiter Band, 474 f; cp. Christian Dogmatics, vol. 2, pg 398-399)
But Dr. Pieper goes on yet further.  He is not content to just only explain the thought expressed by the "change in God’s disposition” as positive, but he also reprimands vehemently all theologians who deny the thought of a "Change of heart in God in Christ’s work."  He especially criticizes at Ihmels because it is possible for him "in high degree to state Yes and No in the same regard on the same thing".  Ihmels namely – at this point briefly stated – speaks on the one hand as it is not only awkward, but even misleading to speak of a changeover of God in the work of Christ; on the other hand, he restored back the rejected "juridical" view and the "legal categories".  He states namely, that in the Corinthians passage ("God reconciling the world to himself") not by a change in the disposition of the world, but rather speaks of God.  Ihmels writes: "Basically viewed, Paul attaches to the historical work of Christ, the reconciliation in terms of a change in the relationship and the behavior of God towards the world."  Ihmels here speaks only of a change in the relationship or the position of God.  But more correctly, he points out that of a change in the position of God towards man is no different than a change in the disposition of God.  He says: "Certainly, there is at that point in Corinthians initially spoken of only a new relationship between God and man" (this statement Dr. Pieper decidedly denies, precisely because the καταλλάσσων as well as also the immediately following μη λογιζόμενος αντοΐς τα παραπτώματα refer to an action of God, not a relationship); "but if this new relationship involves a change in the position of God to mankind in itself, it is then possible to make a distinction between the position and disposition of God?  Would this not somehow require an assumption of an untruthfulness in God?  And if the relationship determined by the wrath of God to mankind there reaches its end, does that not necessarily include a change of disposition in himself?" (Centralfragen der Dogmatik in der Gegenwart, Lecture 5, pages 104-133).
- - - - - - - - - - - continued in Part 4  - - - - - - - - - - -

         The names of several German theologians are mentioned above: Luthardt, Ihmels, etc.  In the above section, Pieper reprimands Ludwig Ihmels for his vacillation on the "changeover in God".  But when we compare this to Erwin Lueker's Christian Cyclopedia, it says Ihmels "inclined towards orthodox Lutheranism".  So we see that Franz Pieper is the better spiritual judge than even the LC-MS Christian Cyclopedia.  Pieper was intimately aware of virtually all of the well-known "German theologians" and "German theology".  One comes face to face with dozens of these men in Pieper's Dogmatics.  In today's America, we have heard very little about them, but they have had an enormous impact in shaping today's "modern theology"... they are in many ways largely responsible for it, responsible for attacking Christian doctrine in subtle and not so subtle ways.  ... all the while they are considered to be "scholars". —
     Some may challenge my translation of "God's change of heart".  It could also be translated "change of mind" or "change of attitude" or "change of disposition", or "change of mood", etc.  But in the above text, Pieper specifically used the word heart: "...God by himself in his heart".  So we see here that Pieper meant that he was speaking about God's heart...  Pieper was bringing to us God's heart.  (Now do we feel like we may pray to Him?  Now do we feel like "singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord"? Col. 3:16  Now can we taste Him and see that He is good? Psalm 34:8) —
     The essay that Prof. Mueller quoted from in the previous Part 2 (1916 Southern-Illinois) was actually translated and published as the 3rd of 6 essays of Pieper in the book What Is Christianity And Other Essays.  This essay was titled "The Reconciliation of Man with God".  As I again read from this book, I was a bit dismayed by Mueller's statement in the Foreword:
In performing his assigned task, it was the translator’s constant aim to render Dr. Pieper’s unique and at times somewhat ponderous German in clear, idiomatic English, without departing in any way, however, from the sense of the original.
Although I applaud Mueller's idiomatic English translation, yet I would disagree with his assessment of Pieper's "somewhat ponderous German" phrasing.  Why?  Because Pieper was at all times intent on making his message absolutely clear, and so he is somewhat repetitive, like Luther was with his tautologies.  So rather than being "ponderous", Pieper is refreshing in his earnest way of spelling out Christian doctrine so that no one misunderstands what Christian doctrine actually is.  That is why I chose to provide my own translation above from Pieper's German Christliche Dogmatik rather than use the translation from Christian Dogmatics verbatim.  If one is interested, compare my translation with that of Mueller/Engelder/Albrecht.  One gets the sense that Pieper's original German is even more forceful in its proclamation of the absolutely crystal clear Gospel!  ... kind of like Luther's German.
In the next Part 4...

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