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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?
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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 (?)

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