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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)
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      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 )
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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.

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