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Sunday, November 29, 2015

American Civil War and... the Missouri Synod

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original Christliche Dogmatik....
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      About 20 years ago, as I devoured everything I could find of the writings of the "altlutherische" Missourisynode, I wondered at times how the Civil War affected them.  As I scoured the "Convention Essays", Lehre und Wehre, and Der Lutheraner through the early years, there was almost a strange silence on the matter of the war that ravaged America.  --  Today's church historians like to spend time discussing the Civil War, but this seems more due to their lack of understanding of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  The old (German) Missouri Synod barely even mentioned the war.  Why?  Today's history treats this war as having a major impact on everyone who lived through it, so why was there almost no information on the events of the American Civil War?  --
      Then Franz Pieper largely answered that question in his Christliche Dogmatik, Vol. 1a, pg 195 (page 167, n. 228 in English edition), presented below in my translation. All highlighting is mine:

We would like to make a point relating to the unity in doctrine. This complete agreement in doctrine has given offense in this country and also in Germany, and there have often been made quite irrelevant comments and even attempts to show this as a result of submission under the authority of one man.  Nothing can be more perverse. We have known most fathers of the synod in person. They were not only fundamentally different, but partly also very strong and independent characters, so that, humanly speaking, it could be expected that they would soon move apart in different directions. That this did not happen appeared to us ever more as a testimony to the unifying power of God's Word.  The various political views  at the time of the American Civil War, which now and then strongly made itself noticeable and stood out even in public meetings, could not destroy the unity of faith, by Scripture-based working of the Holy Spirit.  They said to each other: "Politics has not brought us together, neither is it to drive us apart."

One fact stood out for me -- that Franz Pieper personally knew most of the fathers of the Missouri Synod.  Not only could he speak first-hand about Walther, but also about most the other professors, teachers, and pastors.  And so the best judge of the old Missouri Synod is... Franz Pieper.  And he fills in the blank concerning the relationship of old Missouri to the surrounding Civil War -- there was none to disturb the God-given unity in His Word.

Pieper on Walther's theology (Christliche Dogmatik, Vol. 1): what moderns hate... and fear

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (All volumes are polished, Vols. 2 & 3 are proofed; proofing Vol. 1a now)
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      As I was proofing Vol. 1a (pages 187-188 in German, pg 160-161 in English edition), I ran into Pieper's own stated judgment of Walther's theology.  Walther had been judged by the great theologians of Germany and was considered undesirable and unimportant as a "repristination theologian" or a "citation theologian", lacking a scientific sense, ... and worse.  With all the scorn and censuring by these "great" theologians, Pieper injected his own judgment, and I sat up in my chair.  Here now is Prof. Franz Pieper's own judgment of Walther (my translation):

Should we summarize our own opinion of Walther, so we would like to call him the apologist of the Scripture theology of Luther and the Scripture theology of the old Protestant dogmatists, insofar as the latter have proved to be genuine representatives of Luther's Scripture theology.

This theology is what the modern theologians hated... and feared.  Pieper exposed their fear when he quotes from one of their own, Horst Stephan (page 187):
Also quite recently Horst Stephan soothes the modern theological camp initially with the assurance that "Today the doctrine of inspiration is given by scientific theology", but yet adds "It is only effective in the lay orthodoxists… who are still strong."  It stirs fear of a reaction from the laymen.
Could it be that the modernists today are scared of "lay orthodoxists" who are "still strong" in Scripture theology, and the Inspiration of Scripture?

"All Theology is Christology" = “Off on a Tangent”; the Golden Circle

[2019-03-04: added note at bottom in red]
      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (All volumes are polished, Vols. 2 & 3 are proofed; proofing Vol. 1a now)
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      As I was proofing Vol. 1a (pages 160 in German, pg 140 in English edition), I ran into Pieper's discussion of the importance the Doctrine of Justification in relation to all other doctrines.  I have previously highlighted the error of Prof. David P. Scaer, calling it a "Fork in the Road".  But this quote from Pieper brought another description for Scaer's error.  Now follows Pieper's clear instruction on what is most important in Christian teaching.
Translation by BackToLuther. Highlighting is mine.

The firmly closed inner connection of Christian doctrine from the center of the doctrine of justification is evident from the fact that without the article of justification, no other article of the Christian doctrine is actually believed.  It is not so that one can believe the articles e.g. of the Trinity or the Person of Christ and not believe the article of justification. Certainly, the fides humana [human faith] on those articles may be there, but not the fides divina [divine faith] which the Holy Spirit works.  For the Holy Spirit indeed only enters a man’s heart by faith in justification. (Gal. 3:1-3)  Only when I believe by the action of the Holy Spirit that God has forgiven me my sins for the sake of Christ's satisfactio vicaria, I also believe by the action of the Holy Spirit, that there is a God, that God is triune, that Christ is God and man, that there is a resurrection of the dead and eternal life, etc. So great is the article of justification in Christian doctrine “one continuous round golden circle” (unus quidam perpetuus et rotundus aureus circulus).

Wow!  Pieper not only refutes Scaer's "All Theology is Christology", he seals the importance (again) of Justification over "Christology" by saying that
"It is not so that one can believe the article ... of  the Person of Christ and not believe the article of justification."
"...without the article of justification, no other article of the Christian doctrine is actually believed."
This is basically the same as Pieper's other famous phrase:
"All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing.  All teaching in the Church must serve this article."
But I love the word picture Pieper attaches to the Doctrine of Justification:
“one continuous round golden circle”.
If one gets off that "golden circle", if one displaces Justification from its rightful center, then it can be said that Prof. David P. Scaer has not just taken a "fork in the road", but also
gone off on a tangent  
of that "golden circle" and spun out of control. — The great irony is that the author of the essay on Franz Pieper for the 1993 Handbook of Evangelical Theologians was... Prof. David P. Scaer.  That is the same irony as when the author of the official biography [2019-03-04 link updated] of Pieper after his death was... Prof. Theodore Graebner.

[2019-03-04: 20 years later, in 2013, Scaer was again called on to write a summary of Franz Pieper for Mark Mattes' compendium Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians.]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther"?-Part 2 (Pieper answers on original sin)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (All volumes are polished, Vols. 2 & 3 are proofed; proofing Vol. 1a now)
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      As I was proofing Vol. 1a (pages 105-106 in German, pg 94 in English edition), I ran into Pieper's discussion of original sin in relation to the teachings of Luther and Chemnitz.  I immediately sat up because about 3 years ago in comments to a blog post, I had some rabid CTS-FW defenders of Profs. Scaer (elder) and MacKenzie attempt to impress me with their deep knowledge by asserting that the teachings of Luther and the Formula of Concord (Article I) disagree.  Their assertions and manner did nothing to allay my fears of how far that seminary has deteriorated from truly Christian teaching.  I now want to republish this assertion so that all can see what the Fort Wayne seminary teaches:
Anonymous (of 12/14/2012):
"Are you aware that Article One of the Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther? Luther says it is impossible to distinguish between Man's nature and sin. The Formula says that we must, or else Christ did not fully become Man. In the text itself, Andrea and Chemnitz make it clear they are actively disagreeing with Luther on this point. They say, in paraphrase, "Luther said you cannot distinguish, but we must distinguish."
And just so you don't think these were apostates who rejected the true Gospel, Walther required complete subscription to every teaching of the entire Book of Concord, as did Pieper. In other words, both Walther and Pieper unquestionably submitted themselves to the Formula and bound themselves under its authority.
So what will you do? Will you reject Walther and Pieper because they agreed that Luther had fault? Or will you find fault with the Formula because it disagrees with Luther? But if you do that, you're disagreeing with Walther and Pieper!
I'm sure you will find some clever loophole and continue to break the 8th Commandment as often as possible."
Let the reader review my comments on this assertion from 3 years ago.  It will be noted that I did not directly respond to their specific assertions then.  But Franz Pieper's discussion of "Open Questions" and "Original Sin" led to pertinent information and quotes by Chemnitz.  In the German edition, Pieper quotes Chemnitz in Latin, while the English edition has fortunately translated the Latin into English.  Here now is Pieper's text from the English edition:

Open questions may also be called "theological problems" if such problems are meant as cannot be solved on earth because God has not given us the solution in Scripture. A theologian may with a good conscience reply to many questions with an "I do not know" - nescio.
We cannot, for instance, answer the question how sin could originate, seeing that all creatures, including all the angels, were originally created "very good." Another open question: Is the soul of each individual created by God immediately (creationism) or mediately through the parents (traducianism)? 135
135 This question was discussed at great length during the Pelagian controversies, but also in later periods. See Chemnitz, Loci, I, "De Peccato Originis," ed. 1599, I, 567 sqq., for the historical material. On Luther’s position Chemnitz says: "Luther declared that publicly he would assert nothing in answer to this question, but that he, for himself, favored traducianism; furthermore, that the Papists must be censured for their audacity and presumptuousness in creating an article of faith in an obscure matter, without one clear testimony of Scripture, in order to subvert the Scripture doctrine of original sin." Chemnitz adds: "... let us learn from this example to cut short, piously, firmly, and in well-founded simplicity, these subtle disputations which endanger faith. As to the causa efficiens [of original sin], it is sufficient to know that the fall of our first parents justly resulted in this, that they transmitted to all their offspring the very same nature, both as to body and as to soul, as was theirs after the Fall. In what manner, however, the soul contracts this evil, faith can safely ignore, because the Holy Spirit did not want to make it known to us through certain and clear Scripture testimonies." Cf. also Baier's brief historical remarks, I, 67, nota c; Luthardt, Dogmatik, 11th ed., p. 168 f.

After I read this, I decided to also read Article One, briefly, and could then see that this assertion that the "Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther" is only a deception by my CTS-FW commenters, and also likely by their teachers.  For this "disagreement" is only a refinement in terminology to better distinguish the errors that had cropped up after Luther's death.  In fact, Article One draws heavily on... Martin Luther.

So I invite the reader to read Pieper's text above and Article One of the Formula of Concord to see if they agree with my commenter's assertion that "the Formula of Concord disagrees with Luther".

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Religious Psychology – by F. Pieper (not DOXOLOGY)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (All volumes are polished, but now proofing Vol. 1a)
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      As I began proofing Vol. 1a, I ran into one of my favorite subjects from Pieper – Psychology.  I am interested because I was at one time being "treated" by "professional" Psychologists and Psychiatrists... so I know their "wisdom".  Let the reader pick up any book purporting to know about this subject, or watch/listen to the "pop" psychologists on TV or radio or on the Web.  You will probably get a dose of the world's "Psychology" when you meet with subjects like "leadership", "motivation", "parenthood", "marriage counseling", "stress management", also, "weight loss" or cures to stop smoking, etc, etc.  Even "pastoral counseling" gets into the act, e.g. Doxology's Director for Spiritual Care is a (woman) Professor of Psychology, a licensed clinical psychologist.   Doxology's claims (as previously noted) are as follows:
DOXOLOGY offers an innovative program of advanced study retreats to strengthen pastors for the task of faithfully shepherding the souls entrusted to their care.
DOXOLOGY provides pastors with a unique study and renewal experience, rooted in the classic art of the care of souls (cura animarum) and informed by the insights of contemporary Christian psychology. [all emphases are mine]
But how does Prof. Franz Pieper treat this subject of Religious Psychology?  On pages 13-15 in both the German and English editions of Volume 1, Pieper continues from the teaching of "only 2 religions in the world" to the subject of "Religious Psychology".
The following translation is mine; emphasis (underlining) in original, highlighting is mine:
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But this point [of only 2 religions] was and is objected to in that the old theologians and even Luther have lacked the necessary psychological, historical and philosophical consideration of religions for the right classification of religions.  These branches of knowledge have been given due attention only in recent times. But even here there is a self-deception.  We also do not come about by means of the psychology of religion, the history of religion, and the philosophy of religion to the number of 2 significantly different religions.
Concerning the psychological  analysis of religion, it has been pointed out with great energy the "similarity" of the "psychological phenomena" in non-Christians and Christians.  Because the older theologians have overlooked this similarity, so it was not possible for them to put the Christian religion with non-Christian under one genus.  But the alleged similarity of psychological phenomena among Christians and non-Christians will disappear immediately once we examine them comparatively.  Instead of similarity there is the polar opposite.  In the non-Christian soul, we find the following psychological phenomena: the sense of guilt or a bad conscience, the fear of punishment and thus the internal flight from God, the desire to avert the punishment by their own works, and because the striving does not lead to the desired goal, the state of the fear of death and hopelessness. Eph. 2:12; Heb. 2:15.   In the Christian soul, we find the opposite conditions and movements: a good conscience through faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus [Romans 5:1], not internal flight from God, but joyful access to God [Romans 5:2],  not fear of death and hopelessness, but triumph over death [1 Cor. 15:55] and the certain hope of eternal life. [Rom. 5:2]  So  the "similarity" of the psychological conditions and phenomena is reduced to the fact that both classes, non-Christians and Christians, have only a purely formal  similarity of their common human nature in respect to a human soul and spiritual movements.  As regards the direction and the stated quality of the movements, so they are not a similarity, but an utter contrast exists.  It is also not to be forgotten in the study of religious psychology that the souls of the non-Christians, according to Christ's reliable testimony, are the dwelling and workplace of the “strong man armed” who “keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace” [Luke 11:21] while the Christian souls are inhabited and driven by the Spirit of God, [1 Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:11-14] for which the Apostle Paul also appeals to the experience of former Gentiles and Jews, who have undergone both psychological stages. [Eph. 2:2-3; 1 Cor. 12:2; Eph. 2:11-12]  Because  now the prince of this world and the Holy Spirit do not produce essentially the same, but two different psychological phenomena in the soul directly opposite each other, so also psychology applied to religion leads us not on a uniform concept of religion, but rather on two essentially different religions.
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So what happens when a church's teaching weakens from that of Franz Pieper, weakens from the strength of the Lutheran Confessions, weakens on the preaching of the Gospel itself?  It starts programs like... Doxology!... with "INNOVATIVE" programs of "ADVANCED", "UNIQUE" studies for "RENEWAL EXPERIENCES" informed by "CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN PSYCHOLOGY" presented by "HIGH-ENERGY SPEAKERS".  A better name for this type of institution would be 'MIXOLOGY', (a contraction of 'mixed theology'), not 'DOXOLOGY'.  — Indeed, Pieper essentially equates two things:
  1. The work of the Prince of this world and
  2. Psychology applied to religion
==>> Note to Doxology:
Here is an advanced studies tip: Back To Luther!... teaching UOJ (Universal, Objective Justification).

Oh, and Doxology, I want to add that you may think that this blog post is only to warn against your type of counsel.  But you would be wrong in that I read my blog posts because I need true Christian counsel... regularly, and so I will be reading this blog post regularly to read over and over (ad nauseum) the true Christian counsel of... Prof. Franz Pieper.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why German edition Christliche Dogmatik important (Why I am a Lutheran)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a, 1b, 2b, 3a, 3b are polished; proceeding on Vol. 2a)
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      I finished polishing Vol. 3b and have moved on to Vol. 2a.  So many times I run into Pieper's teachings and want to run to my blog to highlight the clearest Christian teaching in the 20th Century.  Here is another.  On page 22 of the German and English editions, Pieper hammers home what makes the Lutheran Church Lutheran: UNIVERSAL Grace.  This is why it is the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  And so why is the German edition even greater than the English edition in some respects?  It is because Pieper and the Lutheran Confessions emphasize their words (bolding or underlining or italics) over and over with emphasis that is missing in the English edition of Christian Dogmatics.
      What follows is my translation of Pieper's teaching with its corresponding footnote # 61 (previously quoted in this blog).  All bold/underlined words are Pieper's and that of the Lutheran Confessions.  Hyperlinks are mine.
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The gratia universalis is the doctrine of the Lutheran Church. The Lutheran Confessions maintain the universality of saving grace in its full extent. They teach the threefold universalism of the love of God, the merits of Christ and the earnest effectiveness of the means of grace in all hearers of the Word. (Footnote # 61)
(Footnote 61): Formula of Concord, Solid/Thorough  Declarations, § 28 – 42 [Triglotta, pgs 1071-1077 (XI. Of God's Eternal Election)]:  “We must in every way hold firmly and sturdily to this, that, as the preaching of repentance, so also the promise of the Gospel is universalis, that is, applies to all men. [Luke 24:47]  Therefore Christ has commanded 'that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations.'  For God loved the world and gave His Son to it. [John 3:16] Christ bore the sins of the world, John 1:29, gave his flesh for the life of the world, John 6:51, His blood is 'the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,' 1 John 2:2. Christ says: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’, Matt. 11:28. God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all, Rom. 11:32. The Lord does not want that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9… [§ 29]  This call of God, which is made through the preaching of the Word, we should not regard as jugglery, but know that thereby God reveals His will, that in those whom He thus calls He will work through the Word, that they may be enlightened, converted, and saved.”
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The emphasis of words shown above is missing in the English edition, but I want to restore the emphasis here to highlight The Lutheran Difference of the Lutheran Church... the one that Prof. Franz Pieper emphasized his whole life.
Q: Who was the confessional Lutheran teacher for the 20th Century (also here and now)?
A: Franz Pieper

Monday, November 9, 2015

Unionism & LC-MS swan song to Synodical Conference (Pieper's Dogmatik vs. Carl S. Meyer)

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original German edition of his Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a, 1b, 2b, 3a are polished; finishing Vol. 3b)
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      As I first read through the Christian Dogmatics series over 20 years ago, I recall arriving at Pieper's section on heterodox churches and the subject of Unionism.  This became critical for my restored Christian faith as I was faced with fellowship questions.  And so I made a lot of markings and notes on Dr. Pieper's teaching.  These portions can be found in the German edition: Vol. 3, pgs 488-492: Heterodox fellowships:  here:  Unionism:  here.  In the English edition, these are covered on pages 423-427.
      What were some of the major points Pieper makes? (Translations by BackToLuther)
1) Pseudo Reformers
"As severely as Luther fought Carlstadt, Zwingli and their comrades due to their deviation from God's Word, nevertheless he admits that children of God have made common cause with these pseudo reformers without knowing about the evil thing."
2) Christians also in Heterodox fellowships:
"There are more Christians than orthodox Christians in all parts.  ... So great he [Luther] fought the papacy and expressly called it a foundation of the devil, yet he did not doubt that God has also preserved under the papacy at all times a Christianity, indeed the 'paragon' of Christendom...  Whoever binds salvation to the fellowship with any visible church thereby knocks over the article of justification of a poor sinner before God alone through faith in Jesus Christ."
3) Charity and Love misused by false teachers:
"It is known to us, that because there are children of God in heterodox churches is given as the reason for the basis that it is right, indeed demanded by love, to have fellowship with heterodox churches.  Scripture teaches the exact opposite, namely "avoid them!" The unionist argument is of course unreasonable. ... For to invoke love, is an abuse of the word. The love for God and for the brethren calls for exactly the opposite. He who loves Christ, loves the Word of Christ, and Christ's words heard most of all?... the word of avoidance of all those who teach something other than the Word of Christ. And to this practice also belongs, before all things, that to love the brethren means that we do not join with them in error and sin, but that we try to get them free from error and sin."
4) Unionism - a topic much covered in the past.  And what does Pieper say?:
"The disobedience to the divine command which forbids Christians to fellowship with false teachers and false doctrine is called in ecclesiastical parlance 'Unionism', 'Religionsmengerei' [mixing of religions to achieve a stabilization or an association], 'syncretism', etc.  Unionism is actually the cause of divisions and the rise of heterodox churches in Christendom. ... because the unity of the Christian church is a unity of faith and confession, so Unionism is a caricature of, indeed a mockery of,  Christian unity."
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And how do I add an exclamation point to the fact that the LC-MS broke fellowship with it's brethren in the Synodical Conference?  Along with the volumes of historical evidence (see my Timeline), I want to add the last major essay presented to the Synodical Conference before it completely collapsed, an essay presented to its 1956 Convention (44th).  Who gave that essay?  The "great" church historian of the LC-MS, Dr. Carl S. Meyer.  (See my listing of essays here, scroll down to last essay.)  Carl Meyer gave a 58-page impassioned essay outlining a myriad of events, people, and works of the Synodical Conference, pleading with the WELS and ELS to not break away even in the face of all the doctrinal aberrations.  Meyer called on Luther, Jan Hus, Walther, Pieper, Hermann Sasse, Werner Elert, ... to name a few.  But what was Meyer's great plea to the brethren ... what did all his efforts boil down to?  It was this (pg 15):
"This unity is a unity in love..." - Dr. Carl S. Meyer
But Franz Pieper quotes 1 Cor. 1:10 and says (pg 491, English ed. pg 426):
"Here is called for a uniformity in speech (λέγειν) or in the confession of the Christian doctrine." - Dr. Franz Pieper
      So I want to publish below what I call the "last gasp" or the final plea or "swan song" by the LC-MS to the hemorrhaging Synodical Conference in 1956 -- the 58 page essay presented by Dr. Carl S. Meyer.
OCR'd by BackToLutherPage headings retained. Highlighting is mine.  PDF scan of essay available here.

Carl Meyer would not have been oblivious to all the unionistic actions among the teachers in his own fellowship.  He may have appeared to support the teaching of "objective justification" in his essay, yet, these actions belie what so worried Franz Pieper and caused him to give his Last Words to his "dear Missouri Synod" and warn against a "mixed theology".
      And so it is that I put forth this blog to show the LC-MS where the truth is, where it has left the path of pure teaching or "orthodoxy" so that it might once again speak the truth in love.