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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.
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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.

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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?
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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!

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