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Sunday, November 29, 2015

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

      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."
and
"...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 Handbook of Evangelical Theologians was... Prof. David P. Scaer.  That is the same irony as when the author of the official biography of Pieper after his death was... Prof. Theodore Graebner.

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