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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".

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