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Monday, April 13, 2015

Pieper still in theological diapers – Matthias Loy (on Election/Predestination)

      My headline comes from an article in 1881, in Lehre und Wehre, vol. 27, page 334 (German text here).  It is a quote from Prof. Matthias Loy of the Ohio Synod (see pages 503-504 here) against Prof. Franz Pieper of the St. Louis seminary of the old (German) Missouri Synod regarding the doctrine of Election of Grace or Gnadenwahl.  It highlights the chasm that had developed after the Ohio Synod removed itself from the Synodical Conference because of the conflict over this doctrine, sometimes referred to as the Predestinarian Controversy (#2 here).
Prof. Matthias Loy
Ohio Synod
      Prof. Matthias Loy is quite well known in the history of American Lutheranism.  He is considered by many as a faithful, conservative Lutheran.  He translated several German hymns into English.  Theodore Tappert published three essays of Loy in his Lutheran Confessional Theology in America 1840-1880.  And so his accusation that Pieper was in "theological diapers" is rather striking.  And considering their age difference (Pieper was only 29 to Loy's 53), an older man might feel this way when he saw this younger theologian refuting his theology.  In fact at the time of Pieper's article in 1881, the Ohio Synod was cutting off fellowship with the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference.
      There are today some who feel that this controversy is over, but it is not.  The controversy continues, here and now.  Only the battlefields have shifted. –  But Franz Pieper delineated, perhaps as well as his leader Prof. Walther, the points at issue and exposed the Ohio Synod's errors, despite their claims of orthodoxy.  Claiming the truth does not make one's doctrine true – only Holy Scripture makes doctrine true.
     For those who have not seen this prolific attack on God's doctrine of Election, I am presenting Prof. Matthias Loy's signature essay as he removed himself from fellowship with C.F.W. Walther:
(Highlighting added; Hyperlinks added for reference and must be opened in new tab/window)

      Indeed, Prof. Loy is quite passionate in his attack on Missouri's teaching against the use of "in view of faith" (intuitu fidei) as the reason for God's Election of Grace and quotes John Gerhard (see 2nd to last page above) in his defense – Gerhard's weakness.  Loy attempts to portray himself as the great defender of the Lutheran teaching of "justification by faith", defending against the great error of Walther that Election is NOT "in view of faith" but purely by God's grace.  And when Theodore Tappert reprinted Loy's essay, Tappert certainly did not refute Loy's stand defending the erroneous teaching of God's election of a Christian "in view of his faith".
      Franz Pieper continued on in his essay to highlight the point at issue: that it was the Doctrine of Conversion that the Ohio Synod was erring on.  And many years later, in Pieper's Brief Statement of 1932, the conflict over the Doctrine of Conversion (and Election of Grace) was put to rest. (see "Of Conversion" here)  Indeed, Pieper's writing of the Brief Statement, "OF CONVERSION" and "OF THE ELECTION OF GRACE", directly answers the objections of Prof. Matthias Loy as well as those of all his theological descendants:
12. On the basis of these clear statements of the Holy Scriptures we reject every kind of synergism, that is, the doctrine that conversion is wrought not by the grace and power of God alone, but in part also by the co-operation of man himself, by man's right conduct, his right attitude, his right self-determination, his lesser guilt or less evil conduct as compared with others, his refraining from willful resistance, or anything else whereby man's conversion and salvation is taken out of the gracious hands of God and made to depend on what man does or leaves undone....
36. ...Nor does Holy Scripture know of an election "by foreseen faith," "in view of faith," as though the faith of the elect were to be placed before their election...
It is sad for me that Prof. Roland Ziegler questions the use of the Brief Statement today when in fact it wonderfully upholds the Lutheran Confessions, even above John Gerhard...

Although Prof. Loy uses strong language in saying "theological diapers", what strikes me more is Pieper's response:

"For us, almost too much honor lies in this strong expression ('theological diapers')." 
 Franz Pieper (1881)

Dear God!  May I be in the same "theological diapers" that Franz Pieper glories in!
Matthew 18:3 – Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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