Search This Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Reformation Day, 2015 (498th Anniversary); LC-MS, brown paper bags & Halloween

I grew up in a devout LC-MS family.  And how did we celebrate Reformation Day?  My mother took brown paper grocery bags and cut out holes for our eyes, nose and mouth and we went "trick or treat"ing in the evening.  I don't blame my mother for instilling Halloween instead of the Luther's Reformation in our young minds... I blame today's LC-MS.

So how can true Lutherans recognize that the struggle of the Church of the Reformation is no different than in Luther's day?  Leaders of the Roman Catholic church remind us of this regularly.  Here is another reminder among my other reminders (herehere and here).  As the reports of the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (JDDJ) spread, I recall reading (probably in Christian News), a news item that I had copied and taped to several places in my home office:
Asked by a reporter whether there was anything in the official statement contrary to the Council of Trent (The Roman Catholic Church's 16th-century response to the Reformation),  Cardinal Cassidy said,
'Absolutely not,
otherwise how could we do it?  We cannot do something contrary to an ecumenical council.  There's nothing there that the Council of Trent condemns.'
      The LC-MS is attempting to put itself at the head of the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation to be held 2 years from now, but I think their teachers should all take brown paper grocery bags, cut out holes for their eyes, nose and mouth and parade through the streets of St. Louis... for the LC-MS is no longer the "Synodical Conference", no longer the old (German) Missouri Synod, no longer a church of the Reformation as it was.

But for true Lutherans, they should purchase and read the true account of the Council of Trent, the one by the chief author of the Formula of Concord, Martin Chemnitz: Examination of the Council of Trent.  Here you will read what His Eminence, Edward Cassidy, ACPresident Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity declared to be just as official today as it was when it was held in the Reformation century.  And so I taped a copy of the above news item to the spine of my copy of this book.

Yes, I think brown paper bags over the heads of the LC-MS teachers would be appropriate for their celebration of the Reformation, just as I did 50+ years ago today.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pieper's disgust: Reformed against Means of Grace (Revival & silent meetings - Negros & Quakers)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a & 1b text is polished; working on Vol. 3a text)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      While polishing the text of Volume 3a, I ran across Pieper's comment regarding "revival meetings" of blacks (Negros) and whites and how they were ridiculed...  Pieper expressed his "hard saying", a "concession", his disgust, and a strong defense against the Reformed error in our modern world and its own idea of "God" and how to reach Him... and I decided to present my translation of this entire section because it certainly speaks to our modern world... here and now:  This is an extract from pages 188-190 here (English ed. pgs 159-160).

(Translation by BackToLuther. Underlining by the author. Highlighting is mine:)

If one wants to call our judgement a “hard saying” that the Reformed doctrine of the direct effect of the Spirit reduces personal Christianity to human subjectivism and amounts to self-deception, then we feel compelled to first make a concession.  We confess that from the natural-human point of view, all efforts to gain the grace of God, the Holy Spirit, and personal communion with God, except and beside the means of grace arranged by God, instill a certain respect, if these efforts give the impression of natural religious seriousness.  One can truly not fail to have a natural respect for monks who strive, as Luther did, in the ways of monasticism with complete earnestness for inner communion with God. One brings the same natural respect automatically to serious Quakers even in their extreme, the "silent meetings”.  Also we are not won over to only scoff at the revival meetings of the Negroes, when they seek to attract "the Holy Spirit" with wild cries and repulsive gestures.  The ridicule poured out by the unbelieving journalists over the revival meetings of Negroes and whites, fills us with disgust.
But all natural respect for these humanly serious efforts towards the Spirit and fellowship with God must not tarnish our Scriptural judgment, that each communion with God and each personal fellowship with God other than and in addition to the means of grace rests on self-deception.  From Scripture it is clear that the Holy Spirit is not involved in a direct action to faith. The Holy Spirit does not depend on the Fidei Ratio of Zwingli, where this gives the reminder of him that He (the Holy Spirit) needed no vehiculum.  The Holy Spirit stays with his vehiculum because He has declared through his tool, the Apostle Paul, that He will be received through the preaching of faith.  The Holy Spirit does not depend on [Reformed, Calvinists] Shedd, Hodge and Böhl who instruct Him that efficacious grace does not take place by the means of grace, but directly.  The Holy Spirit also is quite resistant to the "silent meetings" of the Quakers, because He wants to be effective not by silence, but by the preaching of the Gospel.  But He is immediately there when the Quakers, in contradiction with their own principle, diligently read the Bible, ie the outer word.  The Holy Spirit gives nothing over the often very noisy meetings of the revival preacher. He does not come through shouting and noise.  He is also nothing to drums and flags.  But he is immediately there even if in these meetings Christ, who was crucified for the payment of the sins of the world and faith in Him as the way to salvation, is proclaimed.  In short, the Holy Spirit uses His vehiculum. If one shoves aside this vehiculum, not the Holy Spirit is there, but a product of another spirit and one’s own spirit is evoked, which one mistakenly believes to be a product of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Himself. Luther's judgment on the efforts of all those who accept an immediate action of the Holy Spirit is Scriptural: "You must, they say, have the Spirit; but the way that I can have the Spirit, they will not let me. Now how can I come across to the Spirit and believe if one does not preach the Word of God and give the sacraments to me? I must have the means; because faith comes from hearing, hearing but by the spoken Word, Rom. 10:17." (St. L. III: 1693-1694, paragr. # 83; not in American Edition )
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

The enemies of the old (German) Missouri Synod will at times attempt to paint it as unfriendly to blacks (or Negros in Pieper's day).  But we see by this quote from Franz Pieper that he was rather sad to see so many deceived by the erroneous Reformed doctrine of the immediate working of the Holy Spirit... as we see so much of in today's "black churches".  And what was Pieper's "disgust" aimed at?... it was against the unbelieving journalists who ridiculed their "revival meetings", and against the effects of the false Reformed doctrine... not against the "Negros" themselves.  But Pieper hardly confines his comments to blacks as he also highlights the other extreme in the Quakers and their "silent meetings" intended to have the same effect as the "revival meetings".
      But what strikes me perhaps the most is that even the Quakers and revivalists can finally have the Holy Spirit when Christ crucified for the sins of the world is preached and read (as President Obama once mentioned)...  the Holy Spirit does not turn His back when the true Means of Grace, God's Word, is brought to bear in contradiction to the principles of these Reformed followers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Great Disconnect – Psychology/Sanctification/Love cutoff ("Broken cisterns", Dogmatik, vol. 3)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a & 1b text is polished; working on Vol. 3a)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"...without me ye can do nothing" John 15:5
      In my faith journey over 20 years ago, I broke free from secular counseling by professional Psychiatrists and Psychologists, also so-called counselors of various types.  I "graduated" to a "Biblical Counseling" program.  This was sponsored by one of the Reformed sects and was based largely on Jay Adams' "Nouthetic counseling".  Jay Adams is a committed Calvinist and I recall somewhere in his books that although he claims to have "strictly biblical approaches" to counseling, yet he taught Calvin's doctrine that God elected some to damnation – a thoroughly unbiblical doctrine.
      So the subject of "psychology", particularly as it is used to counsel people with personal problems, is close to me – I spent some years in it, was prescribed some drugs.  So when Franz Pieper uses the word "psychological" in his theology, I sit up and listen closely.  In the first few pages of Volume 3, at the section headed "The Relationship Between Justification and Sanctification in the Narrow Sense", (German here, English ed. pgs 7-13) I hit paydirt!  Franz Pieper spoke about a "psychological connection" („psychologisch vermittelt").  What "psychological connection"?  Between

Justification and Sanctification!

Now Pieper admits that the world knows something.  He says:
There is even an analogy available for us in the field of natural life.  Proven love begets reciprocal love.
This is what our natural knowledge knows, what Psychology is based on – reciprocal love. That we are supposed to love someone so that we may be loved... such as our spouse (e.g. "marriage counseling") or someone we are having problems with.  But what worldly Psychology does NOT know is the message of the Bible... only when I knew that God the Father actually loved me in Christ did the scales come off my eyes and I could see a "Father's heart".  Only then (upon hearing the Gospel) could I have the power – by faith! – to be sanctified and produce truly good works!  And here is where "Christianity" (in name only) and Christianity part ways.  Here is where "counseling" from the world is no counsel at all, no matter how good it may seem to our worldly way of thinking.  And here is where Franz Pieper stood, to defend against those false teachers who would have us make "The Great Disconnect".  This "Disconnect" then puts worldly counsel, e.g. "Psychology", in place of Sanctification or "Love" that is brought about by faith in the only Saviour of the world.  This is what was meant by the saying of the Reformation: Sola Fide!  The world's counseling says: "LOVE!", the Bible says: "God so loved the world...", only now can you love, now you can love!"

      Now Pieper brings in why we can take this connection to our grave – Bible passages to remember on our death bed:

  • John 3:16 – For God so loved the world,...
  • 1 John 4:10 – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us...
  • Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
      I will leave it to the reader to follow Pieper's whole section starting here (English ed. pgs 10 ff.).  It is Franz Pieper who restores the field of "Psychology" to its rightful place, and shows that the world's "Psychology" is only "Broken cisterns":
Jeremiah 2:13 – For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
And so it is that
...without me ye can do nothing. – John 15:5

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Evil angels, spiritual possession (Dogmatik by F. Pieper)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     While working towards polishing the end of the text of Volume 1b, I ran across one of the most sobering sections of teaching that Pieper ever brings to us.  In the Dogmatik Volume 1b, it is located on pages 614-615 (English ed. pgs 508-511).  It has stuck with me ever since I studied the English version of his Christian Dogmatics 20 years ago... and I will never forget it.
     There are two Latin phrases used in this section.  Below I give the translation from Prof. David Scaer's Glossary (Amazon):
A quote from Pieper on the first term has remained with me for 20 years:
"It is Scriptural to designate the status of all those who do not believe that only Christ's blood cleanes us from all sin, as obsessio spiritualis."
I knew that the world is filled with "those who do not believe"... but it was hard for me to now look at them and realize they were possessed by and in league with... Satan.
      The subject of demonical or bodily possession was covered also in this section and Pieper draws on Walther's Americanisch-Lutherische Pastoraltheologie for content and counsel.  And so Concordia Publishing House's upcoming new translation of Walther's book will provide truly Christian counsel on this subject.
      I will leave it to the reader to finish Pieper's writing on this subject... where he speaks of the French Revolution, Communists, Socialists, World Wars, statesmen, newspaper editors, and "science" that frantically assails the Christian Church and God's Word.  Some, like David Scaer, like to say that Pieper is out of date.  But Franz Pieper (The Twentieth Century Luther) speaks especially for our time, ...  here and now.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why Trinity & Christology are important…

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      As I am working towards finishing the polishing of the text of Volume 1b, I reached the end of Pieper's defense of the doctrine of the Trinity.  He concluded this on page 570, or page 463 in the English edition.  And his concluding paragraph struck me as it clearly and succinctly put into words why the Doctrine of the Trinity and its corresponding "Christology" are important:
The triune God  is a gracious God, as demonstrated in detail. With the denial of the Holy Trinity, Christ is not the eternal Son of God, the eternal Son of God did not become man in the fullness of time, there is no vicarious satisfaction, no justification through faith by which we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, but we remain under the obligation and curse of God's law.
Prof. David Scaer attempted to displace the real reason why the true doctrine of the Trinity and Christology are important by saying "All Theology Is Christology".  But Scaer's teaching clearly displaces the reason why these are important, even though Scaer attempts to deny this.  And I will add to Pieper's strong statement by saying that
All teaching of the Trinity and Christology without the right Doctrine of Justification is... nothing.
So much for Scaer's teaching.  But Franz Pieper's section on the Trinity (pages 445-570 or pages 371-463 in the English edition) did nothing but renew and strengthen my Christian faith, and my mind goes back to the hundreds of times the Apostles Creed was recited in the worship services of my youth.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Not physical, medicinal but judicial, FORENSIC (Pieper's Dogmatik)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
      In Volume 2b, Pieper discusses the dividing line between Christianity and "Christianity"... the act of Justification.  You can go to this position in Pieper's German edition in Google Chrome, turn on Google Translate, and read about it (pages 630-640).  It is also in the English edition from pages 524-531.
     In this section you will read about the great debate involving Luther, Andreas Osiander, Martin Chemnitz... about Romanists, Unitarians, Mennonites & Quakers, Armenians, synergists, "Catholicizing" Lutherans, modern theology... about Article III of the Formula of Concord... about the validity of general confession and general absolution. [Note: I have hyperlinked all references to the Formula of Concord to their place at the website]

Do you want to know whether you are a Christian or not?  Then read this section from Pieper and you will realize that you are not to look inside, but rather outside... extra nos, objectively, to God's "ungodly" act (Rom. 4:5), to His forensic, judicial act of Justification.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Luther's Uncertainty Monster: “honoring” Halloween

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik (volume 2b is now mostly polished), I ran across Pieper's discussion on Luther's phrase monstrum incertitudinis, or the "monster of uncertainty".  This can be found in Volume 2b, at this location. This can also be found in the English edition, page 445.
      Pastor Martin Noland, a well known figure in today's LC-MS, disputes Pieper's writing and turns to a Jewish philosopher to find his ultimate "certainty".  But here is Pieper's teaching based solely on Holy Scripture – the following is my own translation from Pieper's German (emphasis in original):
In the Preliminary Survey it has already been shown that faith of its object, namely, the grace of God, is certain, and indeed is divinely certain, because the grace of God is the object of faith and the seizing of this object is a divine effect in the human heart. The monstrum incertitudinis [monster of uncertainty] can only teach that faith should take its object, i.e. the Gospel, and set in its place the Gospel and Law or the whole of Scripture, or that faith is not a divine action, but a human self-determination, human self-decision, moral act, proper human behavior, etc.  In fact, doubts can be found next to faith which remain in the hearts of Christians.  But this doubt arises from the flesh that still clings to Christians, and is not to be praised with the Papists and synergists as a virtue, but rather as a sin to punish and to fight, 1 John 5:10. "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." (footnote reference: Chemnitz, Loci, De iustif., p. 270 f.)
We see in this that Pieper also draws on the writing of another Martin, Martin Chemnitz.  So Pastor Noland is not only refuting Franz Pieper but also Martin Chemnitz, the chief author of the Formula of Concord.
      My translation varies only in minor ways from the English edition, but is perhaps more forceful... as Pieper is at his best in presenting the truly Lutheran teaching of the Certainty of Salvation.  And the source of our certainty?... it is outside of us, it is "objective"... it is based entirely on God's certain promise that He had written down so that we might believe... and be certain.  Do you like to be called a liar?......  neither does God.
      This is how I console myself during the worldly "celebration"of Halloween... for I know who the real monster is, ... the real monster is far more deadly than any dreamed up monster of this world.  And 1 John 5:10 is the perfect Bible verse to recite to oneself to destroy this monster!  No amount of assurance that Pastor Noland dreams about can fight the true monster of uncertainty, rather God's Word is our sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17).

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Walther's complaint — over "Lutheran Orthodoxy" (from Pieper's Dogmatik

      As I continued my project with Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik and neared the final pages of Volume 2, it struck me how close Pieper was to C.F.W. Walther's core teachings.  On page 652 (English ed. p. 540), Pieper discusses what I would call "Walther's complaint" against some later Lutheran dogmaticians who "clouded" the doctrine of justification by setting the object of faith to be Christ's merit, but not the remission of sins or justification.   Pieper had access to Walther's personal copy of his Baier-Walther Compendium and published Walther's personal notes which complained of some (but not all) of these later Lutheran teachers:
"The means of grace – the promise – is missing in the whole presentation" 
What is particularly surprising is that Pieper (and likely Walther) even included the great John Gerhard among those complained against. (See note # 1526 or note 71 in English ed.) I have commented previously about the weaknesses of John Gerhard, but this point concerning believing God's "forgiveness of sins", i.e. Justification, struck Walther particularly hard as The American Luther revitalized the Lutheran Church for our modern times.  This subject reminds me of the often repeated Apostles' Creed passage that I spoke in my youth: "I believe... in the forgiveness of sins."
      Walther wrote an essay in "Lehre und Wehre" in 1876 entitled "Is Absolution to be Pronounced Categorically or Hypothetically?".  In this essay Walther expressed his concern (i.e. his complaint) against several Lutheran dogmaticians and I am making the German language text available in a Google Doc for easy translation within the Chrome browser ... here.  Pieper referred to this essay more than once in his Dogmatik.  Walther had to go past the age of "Lutheran Orthodoxy" to fully "gather the luminous rays of the Gospel"... he had to go
Back To Luther!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pernicious (and fatal) — erring in Justification (Pieper’s Dogmatik / Dogmatics)

      As I continue my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik, I ran across the section concerning the Doctrine of Justification in volume 2, specifically about erring in this doctrine.  As I viewed the Google Translate version, the text kept jumping off the page... I compared this with the English edition text.  And I had to stop and present another blog post for Pieper to present his heart, the heart of Martin Luther, and the heart of all Christianity... in a nutshell.
      The section is entitled Die Schädlichkeit des Irrens in der Lehre von der Rechtfertigung.  You may click here to go to the exact location in the German edition.  Again it's best to use Google Chrome with Google Translate.   The subject is The Doctrine of Justification.
==>> But more to the point, what is the effect of erring on this doctrine?  <<==
  1. In the German heading (here), it is called "Schadlichkeit" or perniciousness.  
  2. In English edition (v. 2, p. 518) it is translated "Disastrous Results"
  1. In the German body text, it says that one who trusts in his own works for salvation is ausgeschlossen or excluded from the membership in the Christian church.
  2. In the English edition (again p. 518) it says "But error with regard to justification is in every case fatal". 
In other words, if you err in this doctrine, you are not a weak Christian, rather you are not a Christian, no matter what other circumstances remain with you.

      The other point to be made is that Pieper calls this erring a "perniciousness".   And I think this word adds the notion of subtleness about this error... one does not even realize what is happening when they fall away from the Christian faith... it comes on them like a thief in the night.
      If time permits, I may add another post where Pieper quotes Martin Luther on this point...