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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Delitzsch 7: a grieving Delitzsch; Hofmann & Frank

      Continuing from Part 6 the series on Delitzsch and German church conditions from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, volume 1.  (Table of Contents in Part 1) …
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      Pieper looks on in sadness over the fall of Germany's theologians.  But a greater sadness is displayed in the grief also in the later Franz Delitzsch, who did not separate himself from the “dazzling science” of his fellow German scholars.  How the separation of Delitzsch and Walther magnifies the differences between true Christian teaching (“orthodoxy”) and “scientific theology”.  At the end of his footnote # 645, Pieper relates a most chilling end of Germany's “Lutheran” scholars: apostasy, the ultimate grief.

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.

—————————  Part 7  ———————————
[217  >]
It is a pity that the American Lutheran Church’s “strictly confessional direction” and the church in Germany have come apart!  As a reminder of the original unity of spirit between Walther and Franz Delitzsch: through Walther the nature of Christianity and theology came to full development, which once connected the youthful friends in Leipzig, and which Delitzsch — we cannot escape the impression — in a certain sense grieved over to the end of his life. 645)
645) This seems to us to emerge from the letter of condolence which Delitzsch, on the death of Walther, addressed to his remaining family.  It is dated “Leipzig, Whitsun Monday 1887” and contains, among other things, the following words about Walther: “There is hardly a man living who has lived through the years of first love for the Savior and then also the labor pains under which the emigration was brought about, as I with him — God has steeled him in this fire of opposition, so that he has for our Lutheran Church become a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze (Jer.1:18) —, a miracle in my eyes in which my weak faith has often strengthened itself.  In some things we two old friends could not agree lately, [218  >] but my love and admiration did not thereby suffer, and in the foundation [Fundament] we remained one, for I live and die in the bloody merit of the Lord Jesus. … In a small way I hope to see my dear friend again, where there is no sea separating us. …  The whole Lutheran Church [on the occasion of the death of Walther] has cause to grieve with you.” (This letter is reprinted in full in L. u.W. 1887, S. 289 f.)  In the same sense, Delitzsch wrote to the author of this Dogmatics book in 1887.  The fact that the two old friends had not been able to communicate “in some things” lately came about because, under the pressure of “science,” Delitzsch changed his earlier point of view. As a “scientific theologian”, he pushed “science” as the determining principle between himself and the Holy Scriptures.  He deserted the inspiration of Scripture. That Delitzsch as a Christian adhered to the satisfactio vicaria, as we also assume in love, is a “happy inconsistency.”
von Hofmann    —   von Frank
denied vicarious satisfaction

The fact that the denial of inspiration leads to the denial of the satisfactio vicaria was already realized in his time (Hofmann [J.C.K. von], Frank [Franz Hermann Reinhold von, (see pgs 332 & 267 in 1927 Concordia Cyclopedia)]), and has since been seen as an almost universal fact.

- - - - - - - continued in next Part 8a  - - - - - - - - -

There is a biography of von Frank in the ADB by a later German theologian, Reinhold Seeberg.  In one of the last paragraphs, Seeberg states (translated):
The fact that the restored Lutheranism of our century [1904-19th or 20th century?] has not sunk into a repristination of the theology of the Formula of Concord and the dogmatics of the seventeenth century, will be emphasized once more by the merits of the two great Erlangen theologians, Hofmann and Frank.
Germany gloried in its apostasy!  If this sentence does not show the reader why the German American Lutherans of the Missouri Synod had to fiercely battle against the “great” theologians of Germany, then nothing will.  There was (and is) an outright repudiation of the Lutheran Confessions by this so-called “restored Lutheranism”, this “scientific (wissenschaftlich) theology”.  And Pieper shows that it started with “the denial of inspiration”, and ended in apostasy.  This is the Germany that Franz Delitzsch was a part of – “He deserted the inspiration of Scripture”.  None of the horrors of political Nazi Germany that Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived through can compare to the deadly theology of Germany's top “Lutheran” theologians.  The judgment by Pieper that Delitzsch did not fall to total apostasy gives a Christian no right to go down that same road thinking a little “scientific theology” won't hurt.  No, God emphatically warns against this – as a “shipwreck of faith”, 1 Tim. 1:19.  —  For my part, I'm having a hard time distinguishing between Hofmann & Frank and Kloha & Herrmann of today's LC-MS...
R. Seeberg
      And did you know?... According to the Wikipedia article on Seeberg, he...
“... had a number of important students, including Werner Elert in church history and dogma, Hermann Sasse in Lutheran studies, and most famously Dietrich Bonhoeffer in theology and ethics.” 
  Dietrich Bonhoeffer   
It is reported of Bonhoeffer that he loved the hymns of those “‘who had lived and suffered through the Thirty Years' War’, especially those written by Paul Gerhardt” (Marsh, Strange Glory, pg 233), yet when he drove through St. Louis in 1931 (p. 129), Bonhoeffer drove right past Concordia Seminary, the seat of Lutheran orthodoxy, where Franz Pieper had also extolled those old hymns of Gerhardt and the Thirty Years' War.  Why Germany's hatred of “orthodoxy”, the heart of those old hymns?   
      Oh yes, Delitzsch corresponded directly with Franz Pieper by letter.  But that did not cause Pieper to tone down his severe warning regarding the fall of the later Delitzsch who essentially repudiated his own early writings.  That warning applies to all Christians!  —  We haven't heard the last of the “grieving Delitzsch”.  But in the next Part 8a, Pieper discusses the influence of the Old Missouri Synod on World Lutheranism, and lack of it.

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