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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Great Debate: Noland, Montgomery vs Walther/Pieper, John 10:35; Pieper’s Conversion and Election

      There is to be a notable debate to be held October 15, 2016, between Dr. John Warwick Montgomery and Dr Jeffrey Kloha, Provost and professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.  The sponsoring agency is The Lutheran Concerns Association which publishes their Lutheran Clarion newsletter.  This blog has already pointed out the anti-Christian errors of Dr. Kloha, errors that no Christian can accept.  But this posting is intended to defend against Kloha's opponent, Dr. Montgomery, and Montgomery's defender Pastor Martin Noland. Both claim the higher ground as the better defenders of Holy Scripture than... C.F.W. Walther and Franz Pieper.  But is this so?
      The Lutheran Concerns Association claims in it's home page that it upholds the Scriptures.  Yet it publishes the essay of Pastor Martin Noland which attempts to drive a wedge between the teaching of Pieper and Walther.  In their September 2016 Newsletter Noland writes:
...Pieper belittled the external evidences for the divinity and canonicity of Scripture on the basis of a distinction between fides humana and fides divina. I can’t find that distinction in C.F.W. Walther or the J. W. Baier (1647-95) dogmatics used by and edited by C.F.W. Walther. I think that Pieper and his orthodox peers developed that distinction through conversations or debates with the “mediating theologians” of the late 19th century like F. H. R. Franck (1827-94) of the Erlangen school of Lutheran theology; see Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1:110-129.
So Pastor Noland, who is published also in Christian News, and on the websites and, would propose that his objection to Pieper's teaching on Holy Scripture is supported by Walther.  Poor Pieper!  How could anyone trust his teaching now that Noland has identified Walther against him, especially on the matter of how we are to trust our Bible? —
      This desire among LC-MS "conservatives" to drive wedges is most disturbing.  But let me assure the reader that Noland's "wedge" is a "fiction", as Pieper would call it, since Pieper followed Walther in all matters, and made sure his students fully understood it.  Pieper gloried in Walther's tenacious defense of Holy Scripture and its Divinity!
      To prove Pieper's faithfulness to Walther, I want to publicize Pieper's comment on Walther in one of his major works, a work of true ecumenism.  In 1913 there were major discussions among American Lutherans, particularly Norwegian-American Lutherans, regarding disputed doctrines.  Because the "Missourians" were constantly referred to in these discussions, Dr. Franz Pieper wrote a comprehensive book to delineate clearly what was Scripture's teaching.  Its translated English title became Conversion and Election, A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America. (German original: Zur Einigung...)  Pieper referred to Walther 90 times!  This book is a gold mine of clear Christian teaching... and a partial basis for the Brief Statement of 1932.
  On pages 52-53, Pieper discusses Walther in relation to the old dogmaticians of the 17th century:
Walther’s real watchword was:
“Back to Luther and the sixteenth century!” 
So how is it that Pastor Noland would drive a wedge between the teaching of Walther and Pieper?  Does the reader really believe Pastor Noland on this point? –  To "honor" Noland's essay, I want to publish the full polished text of one of the rare books where Pieper's original German book was translated into English by his own Synod.  All hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.

This document may be accessed directly here.  Open this document and search for "Walther", "Luther", and "fiction".  Then carefully read the whole book for one of the clearest, most ecumenical writings in modern Church History.  I have spent the past month reviewing this marvelous book once again.  – I will likely come back to comment further on this writing from Pieper's pen but before I leave it, I would share a few more quotes:
   p. 70: The old dogmaticians teach: Every Christian can and ought to be infallibly certain, in faith, regarding his election, because, believing the divine promises of grace, he knows that his preservation in the faith does not rest with him, but with God.
   p. 93: Walther is the theologian of the bare Scriptures (nuda Scriptura), i.e., of the Scriptures without “gloss,” or interpretation. This, and only this, affords an explanation of Walther’s amazing certainty...
   p. 94: By asserting, that the clear texts, containing the whole of Christian doctrine, must, in turn, be made still clearer, the Scriptures are knocked into a confused, disjointed mass. If any would “teach” or “fight” with an interpretation, instead of the “nude” Scriptures, Luther designates the attempt an absurdity.
   p. 97: He (Walther) insisted that never an exegesis, but always the naked text, without exegesis, must be the determinative factor in the heart and conscience of the theologian.
   p. 99: Especially with regard to Walther we maintain that he was preeminently a “Bible theologian,” according to Luther’s definition: “Whoever is well grounded and experienced in the text will become a good and efficient theologian; for one verse or text from the Bible counts for more than many authors and glosses.”
So much for Pieper's weakness on defending the divinity of Holy Scripture.  Oh, and by the way, Walther and Luther have the same "weakness" as Pieper.
      A pertinent question concerning the October 15 Montgomery-Kloha debate is why no other seminary professor in the LC-MS is challenging Kloha's position towards Sacred Scripture?  Why must the defense against Prof. Kloha come from Dr. John Warwick Montgomery who is weak because of his dependence on "apologetics" and fosters a false notion that Biblical inerrancy was stronger outside the Lutheran Church?  I will not further challenge Prof. Kloha's obvious errors in this blog post.  Rather I would challenge his opponent, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, who is weak at pointing out the errors of today's "evangelicals", the "evangelicals" who rationalize Holy Scripture in their differences from the teaching of the Lutheran Church... chiefly on the Doctrine of Justification.  Does no one in the "Lutheran Concerns Association" recognize that the greatest antagonists against realizing their goal of upholding Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions lies in their midst?
      In C.F.W. Walther's The Proper Distinction of Law and Gospel (pg 88; Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible p. 98), he said:
God requires, not only that we love His Word, but also that we tremble at it, that is, that we sincerely dread to deviate from a single letter of the divine Word, that we do not dare to add anything to it or take anything from it. We are to be ready to shed our blood rather than yield a tittle of God’s Word.
Dear God!  My faith is so weak that I cannot accept the weak defense of Holy Scripture by the Dr. John Warwick Montgomery who depends on apologetics... I must run to the true teachers of the Lutheran Church – C.F.W. Walther AND Franz Pieper.  I believeThe Scripture Cannot Be Broken. John 10:35.

[2017-04-01: Addendum -- The above Conversion and Election book is referred to in Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, p. 158 (Zur Einigung) & 176]


  1. "The saved thief on the cross knew little theology, but he accepted the facticity of Jesus’ declaration that they would be together in Paradise; not to have accepted that would have precluded his salvation." Montgomery Debate Paper p22

    Sounds dangerously close to an evangelical decision theology

    1. Mr. Wachter:
      Thank you for not only bringing to our attention a pertinent quote, but also a perceptive judgment. At first reading, Montgomery's statement sounds so nice... but then it sinks in that it involves something more than "facticity".
      It would seem that perhaps your faith (like the thief on the cross) is based on more than "facticity"... that it is "infallibly certain, in faith", a faith resting in the Divinity of the Scriptures, God's Word. Should I not call you a true Evangelical Lutheran?


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