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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.

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