Search This Blog

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pieper: State of the Church-1921 (worse today); Whither Daniel Preus?

I have stated before that if one wants to understand the true history of the early decades of the last century, both spiritually and politically, then follow the comments of Franz Pieper.  In 1921, Franz Pieper gave a concise picture of the "state of the church", of our modern Christianity... and it was not pretty.  In fact it was ugly.  It still is, and Pieper's assessment is a wake up call to all of Christianity today.

Why have you perhaps not even heard of Pres. Franz Pieper as a towering leader of all Christianity, let alone Lutheranism?  Why did the now famous young German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer not even stop at Concordia Seminary as he travelled through America, through St. Louis, even though he would have surely known of those rather famous (or infamous) German-American Lutherans at St. Louis?  Bonhoeffer called himself "Lutheran", but in May 1931, he went right through St. Louis (page 128-129 in Strange Glory) and bypassed the great Concordia Seminary in the "heartland".  Pieper's obscurity today is further testimony of what he called Christianity's "defenseless defeat" at the hands of modern theology.  You will read more of this in the following short article.

Franz Pieper, the Twentieth Century Luther, on 
"The State of the Church"

Francis Pieper
Pres. Franz Pieper
Concordia Seminary
Is it better for the Christian Church in our time than in the past? We find the pros and cons of this issue discussed in several church papers.  In order to answer this question correctly, you have to know, in the first place, that the Christian church is produced and maintained solely by the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Christ’s satisfactio vicaria or what is the same thing, through the article of justification.  As Luther says: "This article is the head and the cornerstone of which alone produces, nourishes, builds and preserves the Christian Church, and without it, the Church of God cannot exist for one hour" (St. L. ed. XIV, col. 168; not in Am. Ed.)  The Christian church consists just only of people who believe, by the working of the Holy Spirit, that for the sake of Christ's vicarious satisfaction, without any of their own works, they have a gracious God.  All those who somehow push their own achievement and worthiness between themselves and the grace of God exclude themselves eo ipso from the grace of God and thus from the Christian Church and place themselves under the curse of the law.  Secondly, we must know the right answer to the above question in order to know the situation in Christendom for our time.  It stands at present so that not only Rome still curses the Christian doctrine of justification, but also by far the largest part of the so-called Protestant Christianity has abandoned the satisfactio vicaria and the divinity of Christ, also the Christian doctrine of justification and no longer holds the Holy Scripture as the infallible Word of God.  This apostasy from the foundation of the Christian Church was not so common fifty years ago.  Even some of the better sect journals also grant this.  Protestant Christianity in our time is, considered ecclesiastically, in the same situation as present day [1921] Germany in political terms. This country has had their weapons taken from them by the Fourteen Points and now stands defenselessly defeated to face angry enemies.  The present so-called Protestant Christianity has delivered to the devil, the world and the flesh the weapons of the Christian Church, namely the infallible Word of God and the gospel of the crucified Christ for payment for the world.  Thus it likewise stands defenseless against the enemies of the Christian Church.   F[ranz] P[ieper].
- - - - - - - - - -
Justification <—> Infallible Scriptures
The reader will notice how Pieper essentially equates the downfall of the Doctrine of Justification with the fall of the the teaching of the infallible Word of God in Holy Scripture.  But he first highlights Justification as Luther does, then adds the downfall of the doctrine of the infallible Scriptures.

"Fifty Years Ago"
Pieper: "This apostasy from the foundation of the Christian Church was not so common fifty years ago.  Even some of the better sect journals also grant this."
In doing the arithmetic, Pieper is referring to the earlier time from about 1871 – when the Church was not so apostacized from its foundation.  He would have been about 19 or 20 years old in 1871, about the time his family emigrated from Germany to America, but before he had joined the faculty of Concordia Seminary.  He tells us that he could judge spiritual matters even at that young age, that the "Christian Church" was not so defenseless then as it was in 1921.  In the light of his measuring tool, the Doctrine of Justification, how do you suppose it is today in the Christian Church?  President George H. W. Bush heralded "a thousand points of light" in January, 1989, but not President Franz Pieper in 1921.  And there are barely any "points of light" among the external churches of today. (Sorry President Harrison, your WMLT theme is not restoring the Church "here and now".)

Germany after WW I
Pieper uses the image of Germany after World War I, "defenselessly defeated to face angry enemies" by the "Fourteen Points" of President Woodrow Wilson.  But Pieper does not dwell on the specifics of the political situation.  He does not go into the details of "Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty", the so-called "War Guilt Clause".  Also the earlier German Missouri Synod did not dwell on the political situation of the U.S. Civil War as it raged about it.  Rather these truly spiritual men dwelt on the spiritual aspects.  And here Pieper shows us that things are far worse in the spiritual realm... worse than people realize.

"So-called Protestant Christianity"
For "by far the largest part" of external "so-called Protestant Christianity", whether in Germany or America or anywhere in the world, had given up its birthright.  Pieper does not dwell on Germany's plight in the political sense.  He dwells on the far worse situation in the Christian Church.

Daniel Preus
And so it is especially distressing when one reads recent news (Christian News Nov. 17, pgs 1 & 3) of LC-MS V.P. Daniel Preus, who is noted for his essay "LC-MS Holiday from History" of 15 years ago (1999) among "so-called Confessional Lutherans".  He seems now to have joined the "Holiday from History" as he reportedly is a party to the exoneration (rather than warning) of Prof. Jeffery Kloha's teaching of the Bible as a "plastic text".  Daniel Preus may protest my charge, but Prof. Kloha's apostasy from "the infallible Word of God" was long ago evident in his writings defending Hermann Sasse's error, even saying that we (the lay people) should take comfort in Sasse's teaching (rather error) on Scripture!  Where are you, Daniel Preus?... Whither Daniel Preus?  Franz Pieper said the same thing about an ancestor of yours, C.K. Preus, who was the first president of the old Norwegian Synod (see my website).  Pieper tried to communicate with C.K. Preus after Preus did not join with the old ELS as it split away from the Norwegian Synod due to its errors.  And C.K. Preus's distancing himself from Pieper greatly saddened Franz Pieper.

Daniel Preus!  Are we to likewise be saddened over you too?  Do you really believe Luther's article of Justification?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.