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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Archaeology-2: not for divine faith; human faith?; "a large bar" to faith; "science falsely so called"

     This continues from Part 1 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a translation of Franz Pieper's essay warning against basing the Christian faith on "Biblical Archaeology".
     If someone would come now and say "But we know so much more about Biblical Archaeology than back in 1896, a long time ago.  We have dug up so many more things...  surely we cannot throw this out for our faith?"  To this it must be said that, instead of the popular phrase that "It all matters", rather it is that "None of it matters"... none of the Archaeology of today really matters to a Christian for his faith, for it is not based on what the archaeologists dig up, or don't dig up.  Oh, it does give joy for a Christian to hear of some admission by the "experts" of some Biblical fact, but a Christian must not overestimate this and should rather say, "So what?... so what if some 'expert' acknowledges the truth of the Bible (or not)?  I already knew it was true!" — Sorry "Biblical Archaeology", there is nothing in you to produce a divine faith... only the Bible.  And we hear below of a true scientist who, at least in part, acknowledges this. – But is there any value to a "human faith"?  Listen to Pieper...

Translation by BTL – Underlining from original – Highlighting is mine – Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
A Word of Warning Against Overestimation of Archaeological Research.
by Franz Pieper
------ cont'd from Part 1 -----
[pg 323] …In short, the Christian Church has the authority of Christ and his apostles for the whole Old Testament and all its parts. What are held as the Scriptures of the Old Testament, they know that it was inspired by God and inviolable truth.  So they also take the historical report of the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 and of the story of the battle of the kings in the valley of Siddim in Genesis 14 as historical truth, because it is a report of Holy Scripture.  The Christian church makes its faith in the Scriptures in no way dependent on the research of Oriental Archaeology.  Wherein would this also lead?  This research is nowhere near complete, but is still very much in its early beginnings.  Should Christians now suspend their belief in the Scriptures, until the archaeologists have provided their evidence for the historical character of the Old Testament, or at least certain parts?  Furthermore, the fact is remembered that archaeology in concreto comes to contradictory results, which is not to be wondered at due to the difficulty of deciphering the cuneiform tablets and other inscriptions.  Should Christians now wait with their faith, for the scholars to become more unanimous?  Thank God that He has better cared for his Church, that for them the debate regarding the truth of the Scriptures of the Old Testament is closed by the authority of Christ and His Apostles.  We have to nurture and maintain this faith in the Christian Church.  We have to carefully avoid all utterances for Christians that could displace the Christian point of view and they be seduced to believe as if the Bible would need to confirm their extra-biblical sources.  When therefore the "Lutherischen Kirchenblatt" not only says, "This Bible record, as Prof. Dr. Hilprecht explained by a cuneiform tablet he discovered which also includes the names of three of those mentioned in Genesis 14 kings, now is confirmed in a miraculous way”, but also adds: "so that now no longer is there doubt of the authenticity of this biblical report": this is of course to be understood with a limitation.  The authenticity of this report is proven by those cuneiform tablets not for the fides divina [divine faith] of the Christian, because this faith is supported on the report of the Scriptures and has enough with this report.  But it can only be used on the fides humana, [man’s faith] so particularly thought of by the unbelievers, where the Scripture itself, as well as Christ and his apostles, is yet no authority.  Christians have always stood firm on the authenticity even before that report of any cuneiform tablets. This is also the meaning of Dr. Hilprecht.  He has, as the "Kirchenblatt" also reported, [pg 324] said in his lengthy speech, "that he considered it the most beautiful profit of his research, when by the results of them the old Bible word is proven in its inviolable truth”.  Hereby he pronounces it, that the word of the Bible itself is for Christians "inviolable truth".  If he still speaks of a "proof" of that report, he thinks only of a proof for fides humana which even unbelievers, for which the Scripture is no authority, must recognize.  What is the value of this purely human faith, which is affected by human research in unbelievers?  It has a certain value.  Through this an unbeliever can, who previously wanted to know nothing of the Scripture, be arranged to externally read from the Scriptures and get closer to the Church, to then through the word of God itself, as it exists in Scripture and preached by the Church, truly be converted to Christ and so become a Christian.  But one has to constantly defend against the idea, as if the faith in the truth of the Bible which is based on archaeological and other human research is the Christian faith and makes a person a Christian.  This is especially in our time a widespread pernicious delusion.  One ranks oneself as a part of Christianity because one generally regards that Christianity and the Bible are historical truth. But we say in reference to Luther: God does not give us much of such "Christian faith"! The Christian faith comes only one way into a human heart: by conversion, that is, the fact that the proud, self-righteous man's heart is smashed with the hammer of divine law and is enlightened then by the sermon of Christ crucified, to the knowledge of the sinner's Savior.  Otherwise no one becomes a Christian.  Also no educated person.  Now, if human research is misused in order to nourish human pride and scientific arrogance, as, alas! usually is the case, it will give people an obstacle on the path to salvation.  Repentance and faith cannot be replaced by anything. – We would like to also remind here that the scientific research that occurs in relation to Scripture, even for the researchers themselves is a very slippery floor, as experience shows. It takes a very firm Christian character to do this research.   A character who, through all the "results" of his research, as they also have become dear to him, immediately creates a large bar to his faith as soon as he comes to a contradiction between his “results” and Scripture.  If a Christian researcher does not do this, then he touches the majesty of the Word of God, he loses faith and good conscience.  His research then no more serves the Christian church, but is a defamation of it because the majesty of the Word of Scripture, on which the church stands, is questioned.  We do not expect that Dr. Hilprecht’s research is asserted against Scripture.  [pg 325]  He rather testifies that he holds the "old Bible Word" for "inviolable truth".  
= = = = = = = = = = = = = cont'd in Part 3 = = = = = = = = =

Pieper kicks out all stumbling blocks to conversion, all hindrances to God's way of salvation, all encroachments from fides humana, or "man's faith".  It is not by "man's faith" (including the field of "Apologetics") that attempts to convert by means of human reason.  It is only by God's means – by His Word.  And although Pieper does not remove the joy when the true science of archaeology confirms a Biblical account, yet he exposes the great danger to faith that this science easily presents.  I want to call out his warning again from above:
It takes a very firm Christian character to do this research.  A character who through all the "results" of his research (which have also become dear to him), immediately makes a large bar to faith as soon as he comes to a contradiction between his “results” and Scripture.
Here is the great warning of Franz Pieper to our modern world.  It mirrors the warning of Scripture itself:
1 Tim. 6:20 – O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.
The Word says to "avoid" these "oppositions of science falsely so called".  It was God himself (by His Word) who tore me away from the abyss of the false portions of this "science" that contradicts the Scripture.  Make no mistake here – Pieper is not saying to avoid science, but rather the false science – the science that contradicts Scripture.  Here is where Franz Pieper was the smartest man in the world... spiritually smart (and worldly smart), by believing God at His Word.

Ah, but the dear Prof. Pieper is not done yet.  In the next Part 3, he brings in more details of the findings of Archaeology and its "contradiction with Scripture", he delves into the Chronology of the World... then also begins the remarks of the Reformer, Martin Luther, on this matter.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Warning Against Archaeology-1– by Franz Pieper

I recall when returning to the Christian faith that I was hungry for any evidence I could find for the truth.  One of those areas that I investigated was "Biblical Archeology" and I subscribed to the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review.  But as I read from this publication, it became clear that not all of those who wrote for it fully believed the historicity of the Bible itself.  Although there were writers who gave some evidences for the Bible, it was not the solid truth that I wanted to hear.  There was equivocation and open questions.  And it had a Jewish editor.  But when I began to read from the old (German) Missouri Synod, especially Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, I was pointed to the ultimate assurance of the Bible... from Christ Himself, by His own words.  Below begins my translation of an early essay by Franz Pieper in the 1896 on this subject.  He would also later emphasize it also in his text books.  All Christians would benefit by this treatise for it grounds the Christian faith where it belongs... in the Bible.

Translation by BTL – Underlining from original  – Highlighting is mine – Hyperlinks added for reference.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
A Word of Warning Against Overestimation of Archaeological Research.
by Franz Pieper
Every Christian is pleased with the testimony of the biblical accounts through extra-biblical sources.  With interest he takes note in particular also of the Assyriological research of our time, that even the first part of the first book of Genesis contains real history, and not only legends, as a disbelieving theology has stated, and still states.   For example news brought by the “Lutherische Kirchenblatt” ["Lutheran Church Journal"] of Philadelphia about the research of Assyriologist Dr. Hilprecht, is of the highest interest not only for theologians but for all Christians.  The "Kirchenblatt" reported the following from a speech of Hilprecht, who recently returned from the Orient: "He (Hilprecht) gave a broadly concise survey of the result of the great excavations in Nippur, the ancient sanctuary of the god Bel in Babylon by giving special attention to those points which are of importance for the exploration and understanding of the Old Testament.  Maybe it will not be without interest for the theologically trained readers of the ‘Kirchenblatt’, when we highlight one or another point here.  In Genesis 14:1,  as is well known, is recorded the train of four kings against Sodom and Gomorrah.  The names of the four kings are Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer and Tidal.  This Bible record is now, as Prof. Dr. Hilprecht explained, confirmed in a wonderful way by a cuneiform tablet discovered by him, which also includes the names of three kings of those mentioned in Genesis 14.  ... Also an astonishing light falls on the 'ethnology' in Genesis 10 by the Babylonian findings.  The presence of those ancient cities of Babylon, Erech, Accad and Calneh in the land of Shinar of which Genesis 10:10 speaks, can be detected now by extra-biblical sources.  [pg 322]  In general the results which Assyriology has unearthed, serve to confirm the biblical accounts of the Old Testament at every turn."  So far the ”Kirchenblatt". – Oriental Archaeology also provides weapons against modern "higher criticism", which after all – of course, quite undeservedly – has a scientific reputation in our time.  This is explained in an interesting way by Prof. A.H. Sayce, in an article in the "Contemporary Review" in an extract from the "Public Opinion" of November 19.  According to this, Prof. Sayce says: "I have expressed years ago the conjecture that if excavations were carried out at the sites of the ancient cities of Canaan, libraries of clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions would be found similar to those in the libraries of Assyria and Babylonia. Of course, the critics laughed and mocked me.  Had they not proved that you do not write about times in Israel from the days of Samuel and David, and that therefore what one has held as historical in the five books of Moses was nothing of the sort?  But despite the critics, the Tel el-Amarna tablets were found and soon afterwards Mr. Bliss discovered a cuneiform tablet from the same period under the ruins of ancient Lachish.  The bravest champions of unlearnedness of the ancient Orient had to be caught, and the critics were forced to admit that they were wrong at least on this point.  The really strong argument of the critics against the Mosaic age and the Mosaic composition of the five books of Moses was that neither Moses nor his contemporaries could read or write.  The Tel el-Amarna tablets overturned this accepted fact and showed that the Mosaic age was literarily sophisticated.  In relation to this point we have therefore seen a discrete observed silence."  From these and similar results of oriental archeology the Christian church joyfully takes note and uses it to strike an unbelieving science with their own weapons.
But it is also a warning against a wrong use and overestimation of these archaeological investigations.  We allow ourselves to be reminded of three things.
1) The first is this: A Christian stands certain before the historical aspects of all Assyriology etc., that is with the historical truth of all biblical accounts.  The simple fact that a historical report is recorded in the Scriptures is proof enough for a Christian of its truth.  For the inviolable truth of the entire Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament occurs for no less an authority than Christ Himself when in John 10:35 he says: "And the Scripture cannot be broken," and for the Apostle of Christ, St. Paul, when he testifies in 2 Tim. 3:16 that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.  Also the fact that Moses not only could write, but also actually [pg 323] did write, is certain to us before the maps of Tel el-Amarna, by the authority of Christ.  Christ testifies John 5:46 very explicitly: "Moses wrote of me."
= = = = = = = = = = = = = cont'd in Part 2 = = = = = = = = =

Here Pieper lays the foundation for a Christian – every Christian – that the Bible is absolute "inviolable truth"... to be believed.  When today's LC-MS teachers promote, explain, justify and defend the use of the term "plastic text" in relation to the Bible, I have to laugh... and weep, for it shows just how far today's new (English) LC-MS has strayed from spiritual truth.  Today's LC-MS (in spite of some who would protest this) is more concerned with its "scientific reputation" than its theology.  Today's LC-MS is more interested in proving that Christ was wrong when He said "And the Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).  Now the LC-MS may try to defend itself and say "But plastic does not easily break, it bends!"

But Pieper is far from over in his defense of the truth of the Bible as he continues in Part 2.
= = = = = = = = = Table of Contents = = = = = = = = = = =
Part 1 - Introduction, pages 321-322
Part 2 - Pages 323-324: not for divine faith; human faith?; "a large bar" to faith; "science falsely so called"
Part 3 - Pages 325-326: Luther's Chronology, again; Kloha's "plasticity"
Part 4 - Pages 327-329: god of "science" in today's Church; no more secrets in Bible; "History"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Astronomical "science": creatures on Mars? NASA, "origins" – Luther's judgment

Franz Pieper took note in 1896 of the industrious nature of a certain astronomer looking for inhabitants on Mars.  Some may laugh at this now, but what do they say about the efforts by NASA (and SETI Institute) to travel into space to discover "the origins of the universe"?  Do they not laugh at this?  Perhaps we need to listen to two Christians speaking (blogging?) on this topic, even if it is from 1896 (and earlier):
Translation by BTL, emphases are from original Pieper text, highlighting and hyperlinks are mine.)

A contribution to the astronomical "science".
by Franz Pieper
Chicago, Ill., July 22.  A special dispatch from Boston, Mass, reports: [Percival] Lowell, Boston's famous astronomer, is currently on the way to Flagstaff, Arizona, at the head of a extremely important astronomical expedition. The purpose of this is to make observations concerning the planet Mars and, if possible, to obtain fully valid evidence that Mars is inhabited by highly organized creatures.  Mr. Lowell has for several years dedicated his studies to Mars and in 1894 he sketched a very complete map; and his information, that the canals observed on Mars are the work of purposeful working creatures and not the fruit of lifeless natural forces, has caused a great sensation among the Europe's astronomers.  As a result of this, the observations which Mr. Lowell intends to make now is awaited by astronomers of the whole world with great suspense.  The editors of a local newspaper remark: It is not true that Lowell was the first and most prominent in the claim that Mars had to be inhabited by intelligent beings. The main observers of Mars and the main advocates of the view that it was inhabited by intelligent beings were the Italian Schiaparelli and the French Flammarion, before Lowell.  Luther writes: "It is not possible that Nature will be recognized by reason after the fall of Adam which has blinded them, recognized further than experience or divine enlightenment gives.  So restless reason cannot remain silent and be satisfied because it wants to know everything, like a monkey; this is why she puffs up, and muses and researches further than is commanded her, and despises what has been given her by experience or from God; nor takes what it seeks for.  So fools work in vain with all their studying and knowledge. Therefore it has come that the people, because they despise the natural art or could not attain to it, have divided into countless groups and sects.  Several have written of the earth, several of the waters, some this, some that, so that the making of books and of studies is without measure.  Finally, when they were tired of study here on earth, they ascended to heaven and wanted to know the nature of heaven and the stars, of which nevertheless no experience of it may ever be had.  There they have overcome with quite free power to fictionalize, lie, deceive, and say whatever they pleased of the innocent heaven.  For as one says: Those who lie about distant lands, lie boldly so that they cannot be denied with experience.  So also because nobody may reach to the heavens and verify through experience their teaching or point out their error, they are free to lie with complete confidence that no one will challenge them." (St. Louis ed., vol. 11, col. 301, paragrs 18-19; cp. Am. Ed. vol 52, pgs 164-165)  – Franz Pieper.
= = = = = = = = = = = = says this about the sensation of Percival Lowell:
In hindsight, Lowell's claims of intelligent life on Mars were outlandishly speculative. But his conclusions joined a chorus of false impressions about Mars that predated him by centuries and lasted well beyond his death in 1916.
As late as 1924, earthlings listened for radio signals from Mars -- at the request of the U.S. government. And in 1938 Orson Welles' radio antics frightened thousands of listeners into believing Martians had invaded, first targeting New Jersey.
Nowadays we know the canals don't exist and that there are no invading forces, of course. would use the label "outlandishly speculative", essentially vindicating the judgment of Martin Luther (and Franz Pieper) on man's reason after the fall of Adam.  But would also definitely NOT use that term on themselves or on NASA in relation to the mission to discover the "origins of the Universe".  And what about the attempts to continue to find at least the beginnings of life on Mars by scientists...  certainly that is not "outlandishly speculative", is it?
     Having been trained in science and engineering, I fondly recall the teaching about the "Scientific Method" in my youth.  Wikipedia speaks of it this way:
...based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
Hmmm... since the 17th century... could it be the light of the Reformation moved "science" from the days of "alchemy" to the the days of "scientific method"?  Oh, but surely we aren't allowed to attribute today's advances in science to the Reformation, are we?  But who would deny that man's experience in science has advanced tremendously since the days of Luther and also Franz Pieper?  Traveling in space, even to the Moon, nanotechnology, and a myriad of other studies of science.  But every time they speak of "evolution" or try to "explain the origin of life in the universe" or of the universe itself, then Christians can only repeat in their hearts what the Bible teaches on these matters and then recognize that this folly of man is no different than those who held the notion "that Mars had to be inhabited by intelligent beings".
     Surely the SETI Institute speaks for NASA when they state their mission:
"Our mission is to ... explain the origin ... of life in the universe..."
And to NASA and SETI Institute, Martin Luther's judgment continues to apply:
Those who lie about distant lands, lie boldly so that they cannot be denied with experience

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jews in America (Pres. Cleveland’s prayer in 1896)

Whenever Franz Pieper witnessed the subject of Christianity in the public place, he noticed it and many times commented (blogged?) on it in the pages of the monthly journal Lehre und Wehre.  In 1896, he evidently read or heard about a prayer offered by President Grover Cleveland and later commented on it in the November issue (volume 42, pages 345-6):
(All emphases are from original German text; highlighting is mine.)
In this year's (1896) Thanksgiving's Proclamation...
... of President Cleveland, these words occur: "Let us through the mediation of Him who taught us how to pray, beg for forgiveness of our sins and to further divine grace."  A number of Jews have expressed their indignation, because they would be asked to pray in Jesus' name.  We really do not know how to help the Jews.  If now once the president should issue a Thanksgiving proclamation – and that is wanted also by the Jews –, so comes with it, if the President is a Christian, always a call to pray in Jesus' name.  A Christian knows no other prayer.  By the way, all of our government and judicial documents contain an outer acknowledgment of Christ in the formula "A.D.", "in the year of the Lord” 1896 etc.  It goes with this that the promised Savior of the world really has come in Jesus of Nazareth and that God, although the Jews and most heathen do not believe in Jesus, also provides by his omnipotent world government all sorts of external witnesses of historical facts in the world that the Saviour of the world has appeared.  Jews are just behind the times.  [pg 346]  Already this was pointed out by Christ to the Jews when he reproached them: "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:3)  By the way, if the Jews see in the  President's Thanksgiving proclamation an interference of religious freedom, they should nevertheless remember that the invitation to them in the name of Jesus is not a command but only a recommendation.  One can yet recommend Jesus to the Jews and prayer in his name without stepping too near religious freedom.  Otherwise, the Catholics could complain against Cleveland's invitation, because he does not remember the mediation of the saints in prayer, which is nevertheless essential for the Catholics.  The Jews therefore may calm themselves down.  They are here in America and also in Germany anything but neglected.  They thrive quite admirably.  Also nearly all the public press takes their side if something like Jewish oppression appears in the distant horizon.           F[ranz] P[ieper]
= = = = = = = = = = = = 
Franz Pieper brings out the "external witnesses" to Christ's appearance in the world.  Today, we certainly see how the Jews and others attempt to erase these "external witnesses":
  1. The Jews try to replace "A.D." (Anno Domini) with "C.E." or "Common Era"
  2. The Jews try to say that there was not a time of peace in the world when Christ was born, but have they not heard of the term "Pax Romana" or "the peace of Rome" under Caesar Augustus?
  3. So-called "Biblical Archaeology" today is largely controlled by Jews or Jewish sympathizers.  So whenever there are findings that support the accounts in the Bible, it is usually explained in such a way to at least cause doubt on the Biblical account, if not an outright rejection of Bible History.  (There are some notable exceptions, see e.g.David Rohl's Pharoahs and Kings)
Pieper's comment is the kind of Christian commentary that also C.F.W. Walther and Martin Luther gave to Christianity.  Nevermind the "straw man" arguments emanating from the Jews and those who would side with the Jews... such as "nearly all the public press".  Nevermind the accusations of the so-called "anti-semitism" against them... they proceeded to give the Biblically based judgment and commentary to warn Christians, just as the New Testament does.  And so their counsel applies also to today, nevermind how today's modern theology waters down these sharp warnings, yes even by today's new (English) LC-MS.  Hmmm... it seems today's LC-MS is more like the "public press" that Pieper speaks of than a herald of Christian truth to the world.

But who will be the greatest defenders of Pieper, Walther and Luther?  Who will cry out to the heavens that they (Luther, Walther, Pieper, etc.) were right, and that they should have been even more sharp and forceful in their judgments against the unbelief of the Jews?  ...

==>> It will be the Jews themselves!... on that great and terrible Day (Joel 2:31), the Day of the Lord when 
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. – Luke 13:28
It will be the Jews themselves who will cry out to today's LC-MS saying: 
Why did you not retain the sharp warnings of Martin Luther, of C.F.W. Walther, of Franz Pieper --- your forefathers!  
It will be the Jews themselves, for they will speak like the Queen of Sheba:
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. – Matt. 12:42
It will the Jews themselves!  They will speak like the rich man tormented in the flames of Hell to father Abraham:
Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. – Luke 16:30-31
 It will be the Jews themselves.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God's chg of heart-6g: WELS opposes? Curia's fall? (on your deathbed)

     This continues and concludes from Part 6f (Table of Contents in Part 1, Curia essay in Part 6b) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart (GCoH).  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this final Part 6g, I return to the WELS essayist Rick Curia and examine again the possible reason for his exit from the ministry of the Christian church.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In January 1983 Curia said in his Significant History essay:
Who is correct --Hoenecke or Pieper?  I say, take your pick ...
In January, Curia was allowing Pieper's teaching to be possible... but in September 1983, Curia said in another essay:
     And so I, for one, choose to stand with Hoenecke and those who view the reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:19 and elsewhere as change of “status” before God, a part of the doctrine of justification and not of the atonement, as such. Is Hoenecke’s view the “official interpretation” of the WELS? That all depends on your definition as to what makes an interpretation “official”.
     If by “official,” one means the interpretation taught as most correct at our Seminary, then I would have to say, “Yes,” on the basis of my instruction there.  If by “official,” one means that it is the interpretation found most often in our Synod’s publications, then I would also have to answer, “Yes.” If by “official,” one means that it is the only interpretation allowed by our Synod, then, of course, I would have to answer, “No,” for we have just recently republished Schaller’s Biblical Christology, unedited and without comment when he expounds his views quoted earlier in this paper.
Curia has taken his "stand", he has taken his "pick"... a stand against Pieper's teaching, yes, even against John Schaller.  He had said in January, 1983 "Take your pick", but now in September 1983 he "took his pick", he "chose to stand" against Pieper's teaching of GCoH.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Curia's heart had hardened on this point, that God's Heart Has NOT Changed! ... a weakness of Hoenecke, a weakness that J.P. Meyer and even Siegbert Becker followed.  All 3 theologians had ostensibly taught Universal, Objective Justification.  But now I want to take the wording of a wonderful WELS judgment in 1954 defending UOJ and use it against them, the newer WELS, that (paraphrasing)
Leading scholars of the Bible (from the WELS) take some of the chief passages on God's change of heart and flatly deny that there is such a thing.
Indeed, today's WELS, do you now really believe UOJ?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Back in the 1990s, I corresponded with Mr. Curia because I thought he believed what UOJ teaches, but I questioned his challenge of Pieper's teaching of GCoH.  As Prof. Mueller said at the top of his essay,
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.
When I made contact with Curia in 1997, he revealed that he was no longer a pastor.  What?  No longer a pastor delivering the Good News, the "Evangelical" message from God to man?  Why in the world would Rick Curia no longer be a pastor when he seemed to glory in the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ)?...  And when I questioned him on his denial of GCoH, he indicated that he had not backed off, that he continued to deny GCoH even then in 1997.  Some would attribute Curia's departure from the Ministry because UOJ is a false doctrine.  There is certainly no lack of those who either ridicule UOJ or at least do not emphasize it.  But could it rather be that Curia could not reconcile his denial of GCoH with the doctrine of UOJ?  Could it be that Curia actually harbored doubts about God's grace?... and thinks of a God like the "One Talent Servant" spoken of in Jesus' "Parable of the Talents" – Matthew 25:14-30?
18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. ...  24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
Dear God!... the horror I had when I learned that Rick Curia had left the Ministry of the Christian faith and continued his error of defending a denial of GCoH!... and I had to remember the words of the Apostle Paul:
1 Cor. 10:13 – Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 
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To Rick Curia:

You said at one point: "Take your pick", but God does not say this.  God does not say: Here is Heaven and Hell, so "Take Your Pick".  No, God earnestly desires that we not take our pick, but rather take His pick, that we believe Him at His Word.  As Prof. Mueller stated:
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.
Indeed since you requested in your essay that those who visit you at your deathbed should "bring me the Gospel, pure and simple" and "Bring me the good news of the world's justification in Christ!", then I charge any and all who claim the name of Christian and visit Rick Curia at his deathbed, that they give you this message: God's heart has completely changed!  He IS reconciled to the world! The Bible says so!  He is not the Master who is a "hard man", He does not reap where He does not sow, He does not gather where He scatters no seed!  You see His face at the Cross of Christ:
2 Cor. 5:19 – God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
And all who "flatly deny that there is such a thing" as GCoH (as R.C.H. Lenski flatly denied the message of UOJ), so they cast off the very message we are to bring to such a one on their deathbed, "the word of reconciliation".
"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."
    – Paul Gerhardt, The Lutheran Hymnal, #142, verse 2b
Amen!  Amen!

Monday, September 15, 2014

God's chg of heart-6f: WELS opposes? Not all did...

[2017-03-13 - revised, see text in red below]
     This continues from Part 6e (Table of Contents in Part 1, Curia essay in Part 6b) concerning J.T. Mueller's 1934 CTM essay defending Franz Pieper's seminal teaching on God's change of heart.  But who is Mueller defending against?  In this Part 6f, I assess the situation with the WELS in general, not just this doctrine of God's Change of Heart.

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We have seen all 3 WELS theologians, Hoenecke, Becker, and Meyer, attempt to refute the teaching of God's Change of Heart by appealing to passages speaking of God's love.  But Franz Pieper decisively answered this in his essay The Reconciliation Of Man With God, page 76:
The third objection is that God has revealed His love toward men by sending His Son and, in particular, by giving His Son into death. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,” John 3:16. “God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Rom. 5:8. For this reason, so men claim, we cannot speak of the appeasing of God’s wrath through the  death of His Son. Our rejoinder is: According to Scripture the sending of Christ into the world and His death on the cross reveal both factsGod’s love as well as His wrath. When Scripture declares that, when we were still enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him by the death of His Son, Rom. 5:10, it means that through Christ’s death the wrath of God toward guilty mankind has been appeased. But this same fact also manifested God’s love; for it was His great love that moved Him to satisfy His righteousness through the death of His Son, which was impossible for us to accomplish. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. [my emphasis]
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What am I to think of the WELS now?  The WELS was a treasured member of the old Synodical Conference.  Here are some evidences of why the WELS was a valued member:
John Schaller

1) Rick Curia admits that another great teacher of the old Wisconsin Synod, John Schaller († 1920), seemed to teach similarly to Franz Pieper in one respect, although Curia gives no concrete examples.  But I have just now extracted the following from Schaller's Biblical Christology on "Reconciliation":
"...the 'change' ... is a change into another state of mind, the change from a God deeply offended by our sin to a God at peace with the world. The propitiatory work of Christ effects the permanent reconciliation of God. Announcing this fact, the gospel is the word of reconciliation. To preach this gospel is the ministry of reconciliation enjoined upon the church. The message proclaims “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” (Php 4:7; Ro 5:1), not the feeling of restful peace in the hearts of men, but the peace prevailing in the heart of God."  – page 163
Hmmm... this passage does not sound quite like the teaching of Hoenecke, Becker, or Meyer regarding a change in God.  The words "status" and "relationship" are missing here.  Schaller speaks of "a change into another state of mind", "a God at peace with the world", "the peace prevailing in the heart of God".  This comes much closer to the actual meaning of the Word of God.  Schaller may have not used the exact words that Franz Pieper used, but he comes close.  Could it be that Prof. John Schaller sensed that he needed to be more forceful in proclaiming the "Reconciliation" as a true "Minister of Christ", and so he wrote the words in this paragraph as well as he did.

2) In the later years of the Synodical Conference, before its breakup, the WELS worked mightily to convince its larger sibling, the LC-MS, that it was going on the wrong path in many ways.  One can read of this in my Timeline blog posts, Part 1 & 2. One can also read of this in Mark Braun's A Tale of Two Synods.  I read in Curia's essay of the many ways in which the WELS taught and defended the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ).  Especially E.H. Wendland is noted for his wonderful defense of UOJ (here and here) in 1951 and 1954 when the discussion on the Doctrine of Justification was at its peak.

3)  One of the more stirring examples of the strength of the WELS was this:
"...leading scholars of the Bible take some of the chief passages on objective justification and flatly deny that there is such a thing" – WELS Tract. No. 3: Every Sinner Declared Righteous, 1954, page 5 (Significant History..., Endnote 224)
This is a wonderfully clear judgment by the old WELS over the travesty of the old Ohio Synod's "greatest exegete" R.C.H. Lenski, who ridiculed UOJ.
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But Rick Curia presents his own case, and apparently that of the newer WELS, that (paraphrasing):
Leading scholars of the Bible from the WELS take some of the chief passages on God's Change of Heart and flatly deny that there is such a thing.
I must thank Rick Curia in at least one respect – he pointed out this issue and brought to light the wonderful essay of Prof. J.T. Mueller (that I published in this blog series),  even if he rejects God's Change of Heart.  But this whole blog series is dedicated to the blessed memory of Prof. J.T. Mueller.
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==>> To today's WELS:

You seem to find yourself in uncomfortable company, if (former) Pastor Rick Nicholas Curia is correct in his judgment.  In January 1983, Rick Curia said (here):
Whether one describes this changed relationship anthropopathically, as a change that took place in God's heart (Walther, Stöckhardt, Pieper, Schaller and the Missouri Synod in general), which has biblical support because the Bible often speaks of God in much the same way; or, certainly more "logically" on the basis of God's immutability, as a change in the status of sinful mankind now as a result of Christ's work of redemption (Hönecke, Lenski--even though he refuses to equate universal reconciliation with universal justification--Meyer, and most Wisconsin Synod pastors today), really doesn't make a great deal of difference. Both are helpful in explaining the change that took place in a way our human minds can begin to grasp it. God, who hated the sinful world has now reconciled the sinful world to himself....
Who is correct --Hoenecke or Pieper? I say, take your pick; and this seems to have been the consistent attitude of the members of the Synodical Conference (although I am also certain that there were strong preferences on either side!) Hoenecke may appeal more to us for logical reasons, but Pieper's position is also defensible on both Scriptural and logical grounds.
Curia has identified this same teaching to be the teaching at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS).  Will you, WLS, now deny this?  Yes WELS, you seem to be using the same arguments as the erring German theologians', such as Ihmels, arguments from reason.  Ihmels spoke of only a change in the "relationship" between God and man, you speak of only a change of the "status" or "relationship" of man before God, while both Ihmels and now WELS reject the teaching of the change in God's heart, at least to some degree or another.  Only the teaching of the great John Schaller, in his book Biblical Christology, keeps my faith from faltering as he does not follow Hoenecke's weakness (like J.P. Meyer) on this critical teaching.

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There is a term used by today's WELS in their Statement of Beliefs, Justification #2, now obsolete which says of "unbelievers" that they "forfeit the forgiveness won for me by Christ" (John 8:24) [What the Bible and Lutherans teach - NEW VERSION (WayBack)- see next paragraph note].  The term "forfeit" can be properly understood, but in a certain sense it could be misunderstood.  If it is understood as though I have rejected the forgiveness, then it is properly understood.  If it is understood as though God had withdrawn His forgiveness, then it not correct. When I turned away from God, the God of my youth, the God of my Lutheran training and upbringing, it was I who rejected the gift of forgiveness in unbelief...  God did not withdraw His forgiveness (and so cause me to forfeit it) because of my unbelief.  No, it is God who is faithful.  It was I who had rejected Him!  In this light, the WELS should reconsider the wording of their Statement of Beliefs so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding.
[Revised! The latest 2017 version (WayBack) of WELS beliefs statement has removed the reference to the "forfeit the forgiveness won for me by Christ" THANK YOU WELS!]
Again, let me make a clear confession of this now before all the world:
When I left the God of my youth, the God who was presented to me in the Lutheran training of my youth, from Luther's Catechism and from Bible teaching, it was NOT God who caused me to leave Him.  No, the message that brought me back to Him was that He had never left me, He was always there, as I envisioned, in my back pocket where I had stuffed Him, ... He never, ever stopped wanting that I cling to Him in faith.  And it was purely by His Word, The Word Of His Grace, that I was brought back to Him... by the Lutheran Church from above.

What Is Christianity?
And Other Essays

by Francis (Franz) Pieper
As an antidote to this OLD aberration of the WELS that confused the clear meaning of 2 Cor. 5:19, the reader should now read (as I have now re-read) Franz Pieper's 1916 essay "The Reconciliation of Man with God" (Southern Illinois District of the Missouri Synod).  This essay was the third of six essays translated by the dear J.T. Mueller and published in the book of essays entitled What Is Christianity? And Other Essays.  It is available from CPH and Amazon.  On page 62, Pieper wrote:
But wherein does reconciliation consist? In other words, what does reconciliation involve? God’s reconciliation of the world does not mean that men have changed their attitude toward God, as these words (2 Cor. 5:19) have erroneously been explained; for men, ignorant of God's reconciliation, could never change their attitude toward Him.
No, the reconciliation of the world consists in this, that God “in Christ,” or for Christ’s sake, changed His own sentiment toward man. St. Paul writes: “Not imputing their trespasses unto them."
I believe in the forgiveness of sins!  (Article III, Apostles Creed) Amen! Amen!
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In the next Part 6g, I conclude this whole series by going back to Rick Curia, formerly a pastor of the WELS.