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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dogmatik uncovered: Life Insurance (Pt 4); "the form of a bet"

This continues from Part 3 (see also Part 1) of my series exploring anew the original Christliche Dogmatik of Franz Pieper.
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      Along with Usury, old Missouri addressed the issue of Life Insurance.  Again, the footnote that dealt with these matters in Pieper's German textbook was omitted in the English translation.  Because Pieper's brief words on this subject are to-the-point, I will let him give the "short answer" to the question of "Life Insurance" for Christians:
Translation by BackToLuther. Highlighting is mine. Hyperlinks added for reference to sources. Texts in [] brackets are my additions.
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4.  Also concerning the so-called "Life Insurance" there has been and is much discussion.  The fact that some Christians find their way a bit difficult with respect to this question has its basis, according to our observation, in the fact that they parallelize life insurance and fire insurance.  But on closer inspection the two things do not belong in the same class, but are so different that they can not be compared with each other.  Fire insurance is based on the common carrying of a real suffered loss which is estimated according to its monetary value and explicitly determined.  To our knowledge, there is no fire insurance company that would insure a building whose real value e.g. is only a hundred dollars, to the amount of ten thousand dollars.  With the so-called life insurance, however, it is not asked at all for the financial value of the "insured" object.  A person who is financially perhaps worthless, even represents a financial negative value for his family and for human society, may, depending on the height at which the Company assumes insurance, be "insured"  to $2,000 or $5,000 or $10,000 or even higher.  Hence, the transaction takes the form of a bet for the supposed life span of the insured person.  A detailed explanation of the nature of life insurance, that it namely cannot well be regarded as a compensation contract, can be found in  "Sentences [page 639] Concerning Life Insurance", L.u.W. 54, 241 ff. (Author: Dr. F. Bente) [“Sätze über Lebensversicherung”].  This is also noted in the final thesis (37) [translation here], and why it is sometimes difficult for Christians to recognize what is objectionable in life insurance, and that therefore life insurance is not of itself, if other serious sins are not added,  to be the object of actual church discipline.  It is however added with good reason that the right instruction should not be omitted regarding customary life insurance. —

      Pieper uses Prof. Friedrich Bente's essay from 1908 as a basis for his comments and underscores Bente's persuasive reasoning – the "Life Insurance" therefore
"... takes the form of a bet for the supposed life span of the insured person."
That pretty much simply sums up "Life Insurance"... any child can see through this.  Ah, but the insurance industry does not point out the distinction that Pieper (and Bente) point out, but it rather relies on confusion.  If anyone wants to refute me on the facts of "life insurance", then they would have to talk to all the people who have attempted (some successfully) to sell me Life Insurance during my lifetime.
      Now those involved in the insurance industry might like to point out that Prof. Pieper does not make the issue of "customary life insurance" a matter of church discipline, and he only treats of this subject in a footnote, not in the main body of his textbook.  But they would be trapped by this.  For Pieper essentially calls "life insurance" a sin, albeit a less serious sin.  And he says there is "good reason" for maintaining the right instruction against "life insurance".  Does anyone in today's LC-MS maintain the "right instruction" today?.......  no, I didn't think so.
      That's right Thrivent (formerly Aid Association for Lutherans, AAL), no matter how many people try, even those who would have called themselves "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod", even though essayists for Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly say otherwise, they cannot make "customary life insurance" something God pleasing. –  How hard it is today to get the "right instruction" on "customary life insurance"!
      In the next Part 5, I want to uncover Pieper's comments on "Sunday" and the marriage bans of Leviticus 18. [2016-12-22; Part 5 has been set aside for a possible future date.  I am satisfied for now with the coverage of Usury and Life Insurance.]

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