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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bible– Obscure Book? For who? (see Dogmatik)

      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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      Pieper's whole heading of Properties of Holy Scripture in Volume 1 is breathtaking for a Christian.  He addresses the subjects of Authority, Efficacy, Sufficiency, and Perspicuity.  While proofing the sub-section of Perspicuity (or clarity), I was struck by Pieper's identification of those who find the Scriptures dark or obscure.  This is on pages 388-389 of the German edition, pages 321-322 in English edition.
      Pieper lists 3 reasons why the Scriptures are obscure for some.  The first has to do with not knowing the language of Scripture and not studying it adequately to understand how it speaks.  I will leave the reader to study this first reason.  But I want to present the other 2 reasons on this blog post – why the Word remains hidden to some.
The following is my translation from German edition. Underlining in original German. All highlighting is mine:

2. The Scripture itself explicitly says that its Word remains hidden to those who hold a hostile heart against God’s Word, that is, those who do not learn from Scripture, but rather teach the Scriptures to their people from their own thoughts and want to align them so.  This is the reason for the darkness of the divine Word stated in Matt. 11:25:"Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes."  Likewise, 2 Cor. 4:3: "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."  God has given us people His Word in order thereby to take away our own perverted thoughts of God and divine matters.  Now if we do not want our own thoughts to be taken away, but hang on to them, oppose God's thoughts, and so judge God in His Word, so shall the judgment come upon us so often mentioned in Scripture that God's Word appears dark and troublesome to us.  (Is. 6:9-10; Acts 28:25-27; Rom. 9:31-33; 10:21; 11:7-10; Matt. 13:13-15 ff.)
3. The written words also remain dark to those who are so occupied by prejudices against certain Scripture doctrines that they no longer even outwardly pay attention to the relevant words in question.  So many Reformed remain hidden from Christ’s words of Holy Communion by a false interpretation heard from their youth. When these words of Christ: "This is my body" are heard or read, so they immediately insert into their thoughts: "This signifies My body" or, "This is a sign of My body."  They gloss over the words of Scripture with a human interpretation.  The same can be said of the later Lutheran teachers who teach an election to salvation ex praevisione fidei finalis [Ed.- in view of final faith or intuitu fidei], although the Scriptures in the passages that deal with the state of faith of Christians here in time represent the Christian’s faith as a consequence and effect of their eternal election, as also the theologians of the 16th century and the Formula of Concord teach.
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So what might be an endeavor for a theologian who finds the Scriptures obscure or dark?  One might attempt to call the Holy Scriptures "plastic"...

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