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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A test for unbelief... for today's LC-MS: Michaelis and Noland, Testimony of the Holy Spirit

      Continuing my project of presenting the full text of Franz Pieper's original Christliche Dogmatik.... (Vol. 1a fully proofed, proofing Vol 1b...)
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Johann David Michaelis
      While proofing Vol. 1b, page 378 (English ed. pg 313), I ran across Pieper's discussion of a rather famous German Lutheran theologian from the 1700s (18th century).  His name was Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791).  He was a Hebrew language scholar of highest distinction gaining "nearly a worldwide reputation in theological circles".  He was also noted for having a confession that 
"...he had never felt a witness of the Holy Spirit of the divinity of Scripture in his whole life..."
What struck me when reading of this "famous and eloquent German biblical scholar" was his similarity to the well-known Pastor Martin Noland of the LC-MS.  Pastor Noland essentially professed the same confession when he said:
"Francis Pieper answered the rationalist problem of certainty by appeal­ing to the doctrine of the testimonium Spiritus Sancti and by asserting that "theology is the perfect science, the only reliable science on earth."  Frankly, these answers of Pieper did not solve the problems posed by rationalism." [bolding mine]
But let us go on to the "answers of Pieper" regarding Michaelis.  He said
"But that he [Michaelis] did not have and could not have the testimony of the Holy Spirit later in his life is explained by the fact that he denied the Scripture doctrine of Christ's satisfactio vicaria, and founded the divine forgiveness of sins on the moral improvement of man. The Holy Spirit is not confirmed by a pagan works doctrine but is testified externally in Scripture and inwardly in the heart by the action of faith in the Scripture that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." [ref. 1 Cor. 15:3]
So Pieper judges Michaelis because he not only denied a witness of the Holy Spirit, but also explains this blindness by its root cause – he denied the Scripture doctrine of Christ's vicarious satisfaction, and replaced it with a "moral improvement of man".   That is the HEART of UNBELIEF.  That explains his denial of the divinity of Scripture.  Deny Scripture and you DENY CHRISTIANITY.  Michaelis could not believe the divinity of Scripture because he did not believe his sins were already paid for.

This leaves us with the statements of Pastor Martin Noland, for if he really believes there must be a rational explanation for God as Michaelis did (and many others today!), then one is left with the very unpleasant question of whether he actually believes the Gospel of Christ's vicarious satisfaction for his sins.  One must hope that Pastor Noland is quite inconsistent in his beliefs, or that his teachings exhibit what old Missouri called a "happy inconsistency".

But you and I, dear reader, are not allowed by God to equivocate and demand rationalistic answers as Pastor Martin Noland does and those that question our Bible in today's LC-MS... God says we are to take Him AT HIS WORD AND BELIEVE IT:
Gal. 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

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