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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Delitzsch 2: lay circles- "no other than Lutheran faith"; "behind 300 years"

      Continuing from Part 1 the series on Franz Delitzsch and German church conditions from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, volume 1.  (Table of Contents in Part 1) …
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      It was a psychological mystery to me why editor Prof. Theodore Engelder omitted all these pages in the translated English edition... until I read again the Foreword in Volume 1 (page VII) and these comments by chief editor Engelder:
“We have condensed some parts, for instance, … on German church conditions at the time of writing, etc., because we feel that they are not of equal interest for the reader today.”
Even after reading this, the psychological mystery remains.  I will have to disagree with the dear Prof. Engelder on his reasoning for this omission because the “German church conditions” were exactly the reason that the Missouri Synod came into being.  And with the “Missouri Synod” being charged as “an evil in the Church” by Germany's theologians, it behooves the teachers of the church to once again point out in detail that the reason for its separation from the German church was for reasons of spiritual “life and death”.  And so Pieper's objective examination of the historical events once again reminds true “Missourians” that they continually need to make their stand – a “Here I Stand!” defense of the faith that is always vigilent.
      I present now Part 2 of this series with the reminder that all the green shaded text was omitted in the 1950 English edition and is here published in English for the first time.

Translation by BackToLuther; all green shaded text was omitted in the 1950 English edition and is first published here in English; all underlined words emphasized in the original German; red text and/or red bold text is my emphasis, all notes inside square brackets [ ] are mine; many items hyperlinked for reference; hyperlinked page numbers in square brackets [ ]; all unshaded text was included in English edition but re-translated to avoid copyright complaint by CPH.

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A. Köhler, in Herzog’s Real Encyclopaedia, says that Delitzsch, after his conversion from rationalism to Christianity, was “working together with his like-minded friends, who later became the founders of the strictly confessional direction in the Lutheran Church of North America”. 616)  In this circle, as is further reported, 617) there was no talk at first of the doctrinal difference between the different churches.  But with the growth in knowledge, the question arose after a time: Which faith are you? Are you Lutheran or Reformed or United?  The result of this was a survey, but most of them soon recognized that there was no other than the Lutheran faith as the true one which the Holy Spirit had sealed in the diligent searchers of Scripture – in distress and temptation alone they were sealed, yet this was before they knew which church faith. Delitzsch, for the most part, later forgot what he saw as Christian truth after his transition “from the school of Spinoza and Fichte into the school of Christ.” 618)  The later Delitzsch is an example of the inevitable degeneration of theology when it departs from its only source and norm and makes itself guilty of the unscientific μετάβασις εις αλλο γένος [“change to different field / genus”] under the dazzling appearance of “science”.  But the later Delitzsch also declared the time which he shared with the founders of the “strictly confessional direction in the Lutheran Church of North America”
615) Hochstetter, Geschichte der Missourisynode, S. 65. [History of the Missouri Synod].
616) RE.3 IV. 566. [Ed. RE == Realencyklopädie for Protestant Theology and Church, 1898 3rd edition, lines 13-15; Full article by A. Köhler on Delitzsch, pgs 565-570 (PDF)]
617) Hochstetter, op. cit., p. 66.
618) Thus Delitzsch himself describes his conversion to Christianity in the preface to his work, Vom Hause Gottes oder Kirche [or The House of God or Church], Dresden, 1849.

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as the happiest time of his life. A. Köhler, op. cit .[lines 19-21; German]: “Delitzsch himself calls the last three years of his academic studies, 1832-34, the happiest of his life: ‘they were the time of my first love, the spring season of my spiritual life.’”  It must be pointed out that Delitzsch had given testimony to the Lutheran truth for a long time after his academic study. His biographer in the Realenzyklopädie reports that Delitzsch, after he had been promoted to Doctor of Philosophy in Leipzig in 1836, led the “worship exercises” of the “Stillen im Lande” [or “Silent in the Land”] until 1842, and that “the religious direction of these circles was that of a healthy pietism which was faithful to the strictly Lutheran confession.” [pg 566, lines 51-53; German text]  This is also clear from a treatise which Delitzsch published in 1839 on the three-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in the city of Leipzig under the title Lutherthum und Lügenthum [or Lutheranism and Liarism; Munich library].” 619)   This writing has always been interesting and instructive to us that here Delitzsch describes the position in all chief points which has to be taken by a truly Christian theology compared with modern theology.  But this is the attitude which characterizes our American Lutheran Church’s "strictly confessional direction" from the outset, and then against the accusation of “repristination” it is also described again in a comprehensive manner by Walther in Lehre und Wehre in 1875.  Delitzsch's commemorative publication has been classed as “more practical and edifying”, but it can also be described as dogmatic and dogmatically instructive, and in the main points it shows a factual agreement with the fathers of the Missouri Synod, when the latter also treated the same things in a settled tone. But Delitzsch's writing is a commemorative publication [Festschrift]. The author addresses the Lutheran congregations of Leipzig: “Evangelical Lutheran congregations of my dearly beloved home city, take part in the celebration of the Reformation introduced in our midst, also with my most beloved intercession together with festive greetings.”  In the Foreword Delitzsch says against the accusation that he is pursuing a theology of repristination: “I confess, without being ashamed, the fact that I am behind three hundred years in matters of faith, because after a long time
619) The full title is: Lutherthum und Lügenthum. Ein offenes Bekenntnis beim Reformationsjubiläum der Stadt Leipzig [or Lutheranism and Liarism. An Open Confession at the Reformation Jubilee of the City of Leipzig]. By Franz Delitzsch. Grimma 1839.

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of going astray, I have recognized that truth is only one, namely an eternal, immutable one, and because it is revealed by God, no sifting or improvement is needed.”  Delitzsch wants to remind the Leipzig churches of three chief doctrines, “which through the Reformation, led by God's help, were brought back to light again after a long darkness had enveloped them: the doctrine of the regard for Holy Scripture or the Word of God, the doctrine of justification, and the doctrine of the means of grace.
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Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Editorials from "Lehre Und Wehre"
It should be noted that Pieper's reference to the writing of Walther from 1875 in Lehre und Wehre would include the Foreword, or Vorwort, from that year and was translated and published by CPH as one of the Editorials from Lehre und Wehre in the Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther series, pages 122-142.  The translator Herbert J. A. Bouman added the title “Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship?”.  But Walther continued his defense (Wehre) in a further series of essays (p. 161 ff., 1876, 1878) entitled “Was ist es um den Fortschritt der modernen lutherischen Theologie in der Lehre?” or "What is it about the Progress of Modern Lutheran Theology in Doctrine?".  But in searching for the word “repristination” in the original Lehre und Wehre in Google Books, I ran across several instances of this same word used again in the 1876 Foreword (pgs 1, 8, 10, 35), again authored by Walther.  A translation of the first few sentences from this Vorwort tells of the main focus also in 1876:
      The more God blesses the testimony of our Synod for His truth, the more our enemies seek to speak against us, all to oppose this testimony. Shall we be discouraged? Shall we not at last make concessions to the enemies?  No, the more reproaches of our enemies, the more courageous our heart becomes, the more determined we are to stand firm and not to waver. Let us recognize the grace of God, that the accusations made against our Synod are all testimony to the fact that she is a faithful daughter of the Church of the Reformation.  One main accusation made against us is that of repristination. [German text]
As far as I know, there is no published English translation of the 1876 Foreword by Walther.  Would some faithful Lutheran of today translate this?... just as Andrew Boomhower translated the edifying 1886 Synodical Conference essay on the “Divinity of Holy Scripture”?  It would be another great treasure for the Church of today…
      How sad to read of the fall of the “later Delitzsch”.  But happily, Franz Pieper shows us the “early Delitzsch”.  In the next Part 3, the early Delitzsch addresses the importance of the Doctrine of Holy Scripture itself…

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