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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Knak and Pieper — remembered; Copernicanism Part 14

      This continues from Part 13d, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question. NOTE of April 25: Added Braun book excerpt, see note in red below.
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      As I continue my blog series, I am reminded that Dr. Franz Pieper highlighted the Lisco-Knak Affair of 1868 and how it illustrated divisions among men.  At the heart of this "Affair" was Pastor Gustav Knak, of which we have heard in several previous blog posts.  But now I want to publicize just how much Pieper himself was acquainted with not only this "Affair", but also Pastor Knak.  This information comes from a source I had overlooked previously – the essay series "Memories of Dr. Franz Pieper" (Erinnerungen an Dr. Franz Pieper. PDF file here) published in Der Lutheraner by Ludwig Fürbringer after Pieper's death.  I had previously extracted "Dr. Franz Pieper's Last Words for the Missouri Synod before he died" in a blog post, but there was much more that Fürbringer wrote about that I had yet not translated.
Pastor Gustav Knak

      So a search for "Knak" among my holdings turned up a surprising reference to the much ridiculed Knak and I want to highlight it as a preface to further information on him.  This reference does not ridicule him and it ties into the background of the "Twentieth Century Luther", Dr. Franz Pieper.
Dr. Franz Pieper
      In Fürbringer's memories, Pieper had spoken of Knak.  Below I present another translated extract from these memories (page 251):
Translation by BackToLuther; hyperlinks and highlighting are mine:

"The personal details of his [Pieper's] life are known for the most part and so can be easily woven together into completeness because of these memories; because as he himself was one humble, not rushing into the foreground, a man averse to all pomp and all praise of men, so his life has been outwardly calm and quiet, and only his outstanding talent and drive and the power of his open Christian personality pushed him to the forefront.  His birthplace was in Germany, and his parents were simple people, August Pieper and Berta Pieper, nee Lohff.   I never heard much about them from their son, but that he particularly held his mother, who survived his father, in high esteem; because when she walked blessedly home at a great age, he told me that although he was a man of mature age, he went forward as one orphaned by the loss of his mother.  His parents lived in Karwitz, Pomerania, and there he was born on June 27, 1852.  This area was significant in church history, where in the last century [1800s] a spiritual awakening took place after the sad period of rationalism.  Pieper had noticed himself the effects of this awakening yet in his early years and afterwards the well-known Berlin Mission Director Wangemann has described it in his Prussian church history [Sieben Bücher preussischer Kirchengeschichte, or Seven Books on Prussian Church History, see this section “Die Erweckungen im Pommerlande.” (or Awakening in Pomerania), Knak on pgs 100-105]  and his work Geistliches Regen und Ringen am Ostseestrande [or Spiritual Rain and Struggles on the Baltic Shore.]  This probably explains why Dr. Pieper in the first years of his St. Louis activity read with pleasure to his students sections of Wangemann's biography of the well-known Pastor Gustav Knak [Gustav Knak, ein Prediger der Gerechtigkeit die vor Gott gilt] and discussed it with them.  Before Knak became well-known, he was pastor in Pomerania and closely connected with Pastor Görcke [Hermann Moritz Görcke] and other living witnesses of the local Lutheran church.  After this, he was transferred to Berlin and then became well-known through his activity for the Berlin Mission, through his hymn, "Let me go, let me go, that I may Jesus see".  And through his manly confession of the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scriptures, he became well known throughout the world in scientific things.  Prompted by Pieper’s reports, I have just of late acquired Knak’s biography and read it with great interest and benefit."  — Ludwig Fürbringer

So we see that Franz Pieper's mention of the "Lisco-Knak Affair of 1868" in his Christliche Dogmatik book was not a casual remark but it came rather from his deep knowledge and experience  with all the people and history of this "Affair".  Pieper had grown up in Pomerania, the area where Knak had been a pastor.  And the "Affair" was known throughout the world, even when Fürbringer's memories were written in 1931.  Indeed, Pieper read Knak's biography to his students as a model to them!  So... I want to make this same biography available to the world, even if it is only available in the German language.  It is not available in Google Books or elsewhere digitally that I can find.  So I have extracted the text of the entire book and present it below:

==>> A full scan of this book is available for download as a PDF file here (34 MB).  The Google Doc text file is available here.
      As mentioned in the "Memories" excerpt above, Pastor Knak was a well-known hymnist, (see also here) and involved in missions.  He defended against the horrible rationalism sweeping over Germany.  But I could not leave this post without recounting more of the "ridicule of Knak", something that Fürbringer seemed to avoid. Wangemann recounts the sordid details in his book, pages 385-409.  This was partially translated in Fritz Braun's / J.H. Tonn's book:
     "To the public mockery was such added in private letters and telegrams. The letters carried by express messengers, were frequently addressed to the practical sun pusher, and head sun pusher, master, pastor and soul-brother Knak. They contained greetings from Galileo and Copernicus and requests for 'please stop the sun' because one wanted to be together a little longer for wedding, requests for change of weather, ...
     Yet this movement continued and grasped even more serious circles. The president of the city council, Mr. Kochmann called a meeting of notable representatives of the city council and science in order to consult what steps would have to be taken against the general stupifying due to the statements of Knak made at the Friedrich-Werner-Synode which had so openly shown this terrible danger looming. The cream of Berlin’s intelligence came together.... 119 famous names, among them professors, city counselors, and private counselors, agreed to accept a resolution the top paragraph of which stated: 'The Holy Scripture, the book of religious life, is not relevant to the laws of natural science. The earth is revolving around the sun!'...
     And how did Knak himself go through this difficult time when he was often forsaken by his friends and heaped with reproaches and given up by his enemies to a purgatory and mocked and blasphemed and ridiculed? I have admired him that he did not retort when as a Christian he carried his heavy cross. When he was scolded he prayed for his enemies and was not even mad at his friends. The strongest remark to his enemies was a telegram which he sent to a mocker which only contained the words of Galatians 6:7, 8. [Be not deceived; God is not mocked...]"
Added April 25 -- I have decided to publish the complete excerpt from Braun's book below:

Dr. Wangemann
Lutherans in Africa
Knak's biographer is well-known in the history of German missions to Africa, Dr. Hermann Theodor Wangemann, later to head the Berlin Mission Society.  Their activities in South Africa reminds me of a present day Lutheran missionary's efforts -- Pastor James May of Lutherans In Africa, a Lutheran mission that is bearing fruit.  I think Franz Pieper would read the account of Pastor James May to his students today...  — Modern commentators will largely ridicule such efforts to bring the Gospel to foreign lands, for example in a recent book by Kirsten Rüther of the University of Vienna.  But Pastor James May, as far as I have seen, is another truly Lutheran missionary, and so he will surely draw similar attacks.
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      And so it is that Pastor Gustav Knak was not forgotten in Pieper's day, neither is he forgotten today...  neither is Franz Pieper forgotten!  They have received their crown of glory!  May Knak's public confession of "Yes, I believe the Holy Scripture!" ring out today!
      In the next Part 15, I move back to our present day.  I recall in my anxious moments wondering about our space program... and what about its most famous proponent -- the German-American Wernher von Braun?  As I learned more of him, there came some sadness, and some surprises...  In some ways he is an embarrassment to NASA and NCSE.

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