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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Archaeology-4: god of "science" in today's Church; no more secrets in Bible; "History"

     This continues and concludes from Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a translation of Franz Pieper's essay which warns against basing the Christian faith on "Biblical Archaeology".
     Now Prof. Pieper brings into clear view the misery of today's Church.  The German word he used was "Jammer"  = misery, lament, sorrow, shame, destruction, woe, pity, wretchedness, etc.  Yes, these are the words for today's external Church, indeed! today's LC-MS.  God, have mercy on us!

Translation by BTL – Underlining from original – Highlighting is mine – Hyperlinks added for reference.
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A Word of Warning Against Overestimation of Archaeological Research.
by Franz Pieper
------ concluding from Part 3 -----
[pg 327]  
This "science" actually wants to be a mediator between God and man. But no, it stands so – thanks be to God! – that Scripture is in itself completely clear.  It does not only need to be illuminated by the newer and newest research.  The misery of the Church of the present is that one's eyes turn away from the light that shines so bright in the Scriptures, and runs after other gods, especially the god "science".  Here is valid Luther’s explanation against the assertion of the papists, that only by the interpretation of the fathers is the understanding of Scripture opened: “If you but question someone and they say: ‘You have to have the interpretation of the fathers, Scripture is dark’, then you shall answer: That is not true.  There is no clearer book written on earth than the Scriptures, which are, compared to all other books, the same as the sun against all other heavenly lights.  These people speak such things just so that they lead ​​us away from the Scriptures and raise themselves to master over us, that we should believe their dream sermons.  It is a horrible, great shame and vice against the Scriptures and all Christendom, when we are told that the Holy Scriptures are dark and not as clear as they should be for everyone to understand, to teach and prove his faith.”1)   Chiefly we must not be perverted in the whole state of affairs, to the great detriment of the Christian Church, to advance toward the illusion as if in the Scriptures all sorts of secret teachings were present which still await a solution.  We say with Luther: There is only one secret in Scripture. This is Christ and the grace and salvation in him.  He who has known Christ and salvation in Him from the clear passages of Scripture, he has thus recognized the whole mystery of Scripture.  There are no more secrets to be revealed.   Luther wrote the following against Erasmus, who also talked of all sorts of mysterious things in Scripture which are not yet understood: “The fact that some things should be hidden in the Scriptures, which is indeed being shouted in the world by the godless sophists, including Erasmus who speaks so with his words, but they have not yet submitted a single article, nor can they produce one by which they want to prove their great delusion. . . . For what can yet be left in the Scriptures, that would still be hidden deep after the seal is broken and the stone is rolled from the door of the tomb and the supreme mystery is revealed that Christ, the Son of God, became man, that God is triune and united, that Christ suffered for us and will reign forever?  Is this then not also completely known in all the world and sung everywhere?  If Christ is taken from the Scriptures, what then can you yet further
1) St. L. ed., vol. 5, col. 334-335 ("Exposition of Psalm 37") ; not in Am. ed.

[pg 328]  
find in them?"1)  Even through the legitimate exegetical studies of the divinely gifted expositors of Scripture, by whose service more difficult passages of Scripture are explained from the Scriptures themselves, are there no new, previously unknown teachings, even in part, furthered today, because in the more difficult passages of Scripture is there nothing otherwise than in the thoroughly clear portions, which stand equally open to both scholars and unlearned.  How much less will we understand the Scriptures which are only opened by exploring extra-biblical sources, since these are just about the human testimony of individual historical facts, facts that are already certain for us from the Scripture alone.  We are not saying this to depress the relative value of this research. The purpose of this discussion is only to strongly point to the truth that all Christians can draw a complete and certain knowledge of the whole Christian doctrine from Scripture itself.  If this confidence resting on the Scriptures is shaken in the Christian world, so a great deal of damage is inflicted.
The third point which we wanted to be reminded of is closely related to the other two already discussed.  It has become fashionable in our time to point to the men who are occupied with scientific research, as the real "adornment" of the Christian church.  This is connected with the false modern direction in the church, which regards the Bible and Christianity primarily as an interesting historical phenomenon and pushes the doctrine, the saving doctrine, of Scripture into the background as less important.  Hence, one raises before all things the men who have their research in respect to the historical reporting of Scripture as history. In contrast, we consider on the basis of Scripture firmly, that the Scriptures are not reported as mere history, but all for the purpose of doctrine.  "Whatsoever things were written aforetime " – says St.Paul in Rom. 15:4 – "were written for our learning." [literal from German: “were written for doctrine for us]. The actual "adornment" of the Christian church is for us therefore the many dear men, who through God’s grace can proclaim the saving Christian doctrine, reveal Christ, preach Law and Gospel rightly.  These are the people who do the real work in the kingdom of God.  That makes saints of sinners.  That builds the church.  These people should you therefore – according to Luther – put at the top and call them doctors of Holy Scripture.2) All scientific research has value for the church only so far, as it serves the preaching ministry.  Also Christian researchers willingly recognize this subordinate relationship.  As also Dr. Hilprecht said according to the report of the "Kirchenblattes", "that although the focus of his work and research in recent years had not situated on the theological field,
1) St. L. ed. vol 18, 1681; cp. Am. ed. vol. 33, pgs 25-26 (“On the Bondage of the Will”)
2) Erlangen Edition. vol. 19, 236 f. ; Am. ed. ??

[pg 329]  
but still that theology had remained his 'first love', and that he considered it the most beautiful profit of his research if by the results of it, the old Bible Word is proven in its inviolable truth”.   But most archaeologists are unfortunately! not so.  And it is in the whole character of modern theology to elevate scientific research at the expense of the simple-minded doctrines of the Gospel, as it is in the Scripture.  The scientific researchers are the theologians of first rank; the men against it, who can preach only God’s Word, are considered as theologians of second rank, if they are even granted the designation “theologian” at all.  Now it does not depend on the name.  But it will still appear to us as the most appropriate one, if one reserves the designation "theologian" for the people who have the ability wrought by the Holy Spirit (ἱκανότης), "able ministers of the New Testament," 2 Cor. 3:5-6.  By the way, scientific researchers would then be "theologians" if, and insofar as, they too possess the ability to align with the Christian preaching office.  But be that as it may!  In any case, we ask God primarily for many competent simple preachers of the Gospel.  If He still besides gives us people who can testify of historical reports of the Bible for fides humana by learned investigation of extra-biblical sources, so we also accept this gift gratefully.  But for the most necessary and most excellent gift of God, we hold it to be the people who can teach well the Word of God from the Scriptures.
Franz Pieper.
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     Pieper quotes from Martin Luther's treatise "On the Bondage of the Will" , one of Luther's best known writings.  Would to God that today's external Church would listen to Martin Luther like Franz Pieper does.  It is somewhat distressing to me that Pastor Jack Cascione, who normally defends the doctrine of Universal, Objective Justification, is now promoting “mathematical proofs and challenges” in the Bible.  But no matter how he attempts to explain this as promoting the truth of the Bible, I would rather say with Franz Pieper above that
He who has known Christ and salvation in Him from the clear passages of Scripture, he has thus recognized the whole mystery of Scripture.  There are no more secrets to be revealed.
I would rather say with Luther above (in his On the Bondage of the Will):
For what can yet be left in the Scriptures, that would still be hidden deep after the seal is broken and the stone is rolled from the door of the tomb and the supreme mystery is revealed that Christ, the Son of God, became man, that God is triune and united, that Christ suffered for us and will reign forever?
Bible History
     Pieper emphasizes that Bible History, although it is absolutely true and certain, was not written for worldly historians.  It was rather written for Doctrine.  And so as Christians, we should understand why worldly historians (including writers for Wikipedia!) will very often either directly refute the historical accounts in the Bible or, what is the same, cause doubt in them.

Yes indeed, it is rather the Lutheran Church (from above) that is the Bible Church, not the Reformed sects who fell into error in various degrees.  And the Lutheran Church (from above) discards all attempts by "science" to dislodge the Bible, the Word of God.  It keeps the God of the Bible as true God.  Let the "religious" scoffers cry "Biblicism!", "Letter worshipers!".  The true Church settles it by hanging on to His Word that says:
Isaiah 40:8 – The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Thank God!  Thank God for the blessing of the Christian teaching of ... Franz Pieper!

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