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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God's chg of heart-6c: WELS opposes? Adolf Hoenecke? (Curia essay)

[2017-03-04: added text in red below based on finding in F. Pieper's Chr. Dogmatics]
     This continues from Part 6b (Table of Contents in Part 1) 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 6c, the first of several teachers in the WELS is presented by essayist Rick Curia as potentially showing a "difference" or "disagreement" with this teaching.
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     In 1997, 14 years after his 1983 essay was written,  I had correspondence with the author Pastor Rick Curia (WELS) and discovered that he was no longer in the ministry, no longer a Pastor.  I was dismayed by this but still wanted to correspond with him about the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification (UOJ).  But I also wanted to find out if he really did not believe that God had a Change of Heart, because this was no small matter to the Christian faith, and to deny that God did have a Change of Heart militates against Objective Justification.  What did Curia write that indicated his denial?  I will begin with the first of his 3 witnesses.
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1) Adolf Hoenecke († 1908)
Adolf Hoenecke
     Rick Curia's essay quotes Adolf Hoenecke, who is considered the spiritual father of the WELS (here):
Now the question is whether the reconciliation, in which God reconciles the world to himself, consists of a change in God's disposition over against the world. The answer is: No! For there is no indication for this in the subordinate clauses included in the passages of Scripture cited above (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18,19), which say nothing about a change of mind regarding God's disposition, but only of certain arrangements, judicial facts and activities, such as, "not imputing sins," and, "to make Christ to be sin." – Ev.-Luth. Dogmatik, III, page 191 (Curia translation)
Hoenecke's "No! (Nein!)" presented quite a jolt to me.  And Curia makes this claim:
Hoenecke challenged the common Missourian conception of reconciliation as a "change of heart" or attitude on God's part.
Curia and others believe there is a great disparity in the teaching of Hoenecke and Walther/Pieper on this point.  But Prof. Theo. Engelder also quoted (translating into English) from the same paragraph of Hoenecke and wrote the following in 1933 in an essay entitled "Objective Justification", CTM vol. 4, pgs 566-567:
Dr. A. Hoenecke cannot see anything else in 2 Cor. 5:19. “The καταλλάσσείν on the part of God means that God no longer imputes sin and guilt to the world, as appears from the explanatory in v. 19 and from v. 21, which states that the imputation, which because of the justice of God absolutely cannot be put aside, has taken place, the sins having been imputed to Christ. [*] The καταλλάσσειν as the act of the reconciliation of God is in reality the objective, general absolution, or justification, of the whole world from sin and guilt in Christ, which must and does become a subjective, special one through faith.” (Ev.-Luth. Dogmatik, III, 191-192)
Note the [*] where Engelder omitted a portion.  Because this passage is so important, I am reproducing Hoenecke's original German (with original emphases retained with underlining) where he said this (pgs 191-192):
Das καταλλάσσαν ist von seiten Gottes das in Christo geschehende Aufheben der Sünde- und Schuldzurechnung an die Welt, wie in V. 19 der Zusatz μη λογιζόμενος sagt und V. 21, der die Zurechnung, die absolut nach der Gerechtigkeit Gottes doch einmal nicht unterbleiben konnte, als an Christo geschehen aussagt; vgl. Röm. 3:25: ὃν προέθετο ἱλαστήριον, Gott verwandelt das Verhältnis zwischen sich und der Welt,, indem er, wie Budäus sagt, ein anderer wird in bezug auf die Sünder. Das καταλλάσσαν als Tat der Versöhnung Gottes ist sachlich in Wahrheit die objektive, allgemeine Lossprechung oder Rechtfertigung der ganzen Welt in Christo von Sünde und Schuld, welche eine subjektive, spezielle durch den Glauben werden muß und wird.
Now I want to present this same passage as translated into English in recent years and offered by Northwestern Publishing House as Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, III, 181:
On the part of God, the καταλλάσσείν is the lifting of the attribution of sin and guilt to the world, which occurs in Christ, as the addition μή λογιζόμενος (2 Co 5:19) says; the attribution which could absolutely never be omitted according to the righteousness of God is said to occur in Christ (2 Co 5:21; cf. Ro 3:25 ὃν προέθετο ἱλαστήριον). God changes the relationship between himself and the world in that, as Budaus says, he becomes another in reference to the sinner. The καταλλάσσειν as the act of God’s reconciliation is essentially and truly the objective, universal acquittal or justification of the entire world from sin and guilt in Christ, which must and will become a subjective, special justification through faith.
It is striking to read how Hoenecke can say in the same paragraph: (1) "No!" to a change in God's disposition and then (2) approvingly repeat the statement above that "he (God) becomes another in reference to the sinner".  It is a mystery... where did Prof. Hoenecke come up with the "question... of a change in God's disposition over against the world" that he attempts to answer with his "No!".   Where is the logic when one says God "becomes another" but this does not mean a change in God?  The limitation that Hoenecke places on this passage in a certain way is not consistent.  And therefore I will take the Adolf Hoenecke (as Engelder does) who says:
... he (God) becomes another in reference to the sinner... The καταλλάσσειν as the act of God’s reconciliation is essentially and truly the objective, universal acquittal or justification of the entire world from sin and guilt in Christ.

Rick Curia presents Hoenecke's writing as a defense against "Missourian" teaching and specifically Franz Pieper's teaching.   But I would find it difficult to believe that Hoenecke wrote to refute Missouri's theologians, especially Walther or Franz Pieper.  After all, Pieper had been a student under Hoenecke at some point in his life.  And Pieper stated in his Christian Dogmatics (vol 1, pg 173) that the theology of Hoenecke and Walther was the same, that both were Scripture theologians. [2017-03-04: Note: F. Pieper quotes Hoenecke in C.D. 2, p. 540 n. 72: “... nothing of our own, nothing subjective, can constitute our righteousness before God.”] I have spent some time with Hoenecke's teachings and find that he seemed to contradict his own "No!" answer when he admits that God is fully reconciled to the world.  I will call this part of Hoenecke's teaching inconsistenta weak part, a weakness.  Perhaps some WELS theologian who is intimately familiar with Hoenecke's writings could answer for Hoenecke on this point for me.  Whoever this theologian may be, they must answer differently than Rick Curia does.

In the next Part 6d, I will examine Curia's second witness where he thinks he has found a refutation of Pieper's teaching of God's Change of Heart... Prof. Siegbert Becker.

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