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Monday, January 9, 2017

Delitzsch 8b: great chasm — supermen to stragglers

[2018-04-29: added postscript at bottom in red.]
      Concluding from Part 8a 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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      I have put considerable time into this final presentation (page 225).  It shows Pieper's passionate defense of the Missouri Synod and those who stood with it against the world... just as Luther stood.  Ah, but he was fighting against “theological supermen”.  —  Again, the reader will note below how much text is shaded green and so is being presented for the first time in English translation.

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 8b  ———————————
[225  >]

And on the other hand they [Germany's theologians] have quite carefully observed and spread abroad the evil things which the opposing [American] camp informed the world about our “strictly confessional direction”, such as our supposed Calvinism, our idolizing the dogmatists, and our desecration of the dogmatists, about our unity and our mutual hostilities, about the democratic bondage of the pastors on the part of the congregations, etc. 659)  

The theologians of Germany unfortunately advanced toward the same bitterness presented to us — to the great regret of Dr. [Charles Porterfield] Krauth — by the representatives of the liberal “American Lutheranism”.  And we can understand that.

We are theologically divided by a chasm
so broad and deep that it can not be bridged.

We hold
the Holy Scriptures
for God's
infallible Word
and therefore for the only source and norm of theology, so that we reject any thought which,
as Luther says, does not have its “advent” [Ankunft] from Scripture, whether the thought may refer to the content or the context of Christian doctrine.  Modern theologians, on the other hand, regard the “identification” of Scripture and “God's Word” as a point of view long dismissed, which only has its representatives in lay circles and among theological “stragglers.”  They therefore see their profession as offering the product of their "pious self-consciousness" to the Church and the world, and then to correct the fallible Scripture. We could communicate with “lay circles” and theological stragglers. But with the theological supermen who have taken their stand above Scripture, an understanding is impossible because the common Christian foundation is missing.  But God’s grace can create change under the tremendous shocks that are now going on in the world. [post-WW I, pre-WW II]
Will the “strictly confessional direction” of the Lutheran Church as represented here in the United States by the Synodical Conference be asserted here and in other countries?  The question of the viability of the Church of the Reformation in its unchanged and unchangeable doctrines has recently been widely considered in Germany and elsewhere.
Johann Heinrich Kurtz

659) [252] Kurtz, Kirchengeschichte für Studierende [or Church History for Students], 1890, II, 2, p. 262 [not on web?; 1874 edition here] ; RE.2 IX, 85 f.; partial correction RE.2 XVIII, 687 ff. [see here or here or here (pgs 413-414) for 1890 English translation of Kurtz]

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      The reader will note the amount of green shaded text in this segment.  With the great interest that the world now shows in “German theology” today – with its fascination with Bonhoeffer – I think editor Prof. Engelder misjudged in omitting these green shaded sections from his English edition.  Indeed, I hold up Franz Pieper's Church History above all other Church Historians since his time. —
      The “tremendous shocks in the world” that Pieper refers to in 1924 were certainly not over, as the world knows of perhaps the greatest “shock” – World War II.  It is in the shadow of the effects of World War II that you and I live in, a world that largely repudiates all things German, including its language here in America.  Even the Nazi Third Reich repudiated the Fraktur font that was used in its traditional publications.
      The charges brought against the Old Missouri Synod practically knew no bounds, ultimately calling it an “evil in the church”.
church historian – “theological superman”
In the 1890 English translation of a book by the prolific German Lutheran church historian Johann Heinrich Kurtz, he said this of the Missourians and those with them:
“These Missouri separatist communities, though everywhere quite unimportant, …”
Hmmm.... that sounds suspiciously like what the 1910 Roman Catholic encyclopedia said about those Old Lutherans.  Should I not call Kurtz one of those “theological supermen”?

Yep, I'm one of those “Missouri separatists”, a “theological straggler”, standing on the other side of that “chasm so broad and deep”, but with the Holy Scriptures... and with the true Church Historian for today, Dr. Franz Pieper.—
      The later Dr. Franz Delitzsch helped foster the “theological supermen”, the “theologischen Übermenschen”.  But I would end this series with the words of the early Delitzsch as he extols Holy Scripture to those on the other side of the “great chasm”:
It alone is the foundation…, the touchstone
 To this Word it [the Church] must submit itself with reverence, with humility, with self-denial. – Delitzsch
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

2018-04-29: F. E. Mayer, in his 1949 book The Story of Bad Boll – Building Theological Bridges, spoke of Pieper's statement on the “chasm” (p. 7, Archive):
“He was therefore of the opinion that an unbridgeable chasm separated the Missouri Synod and the German theology. And then Dr. Pieper adds these almost prophetic words: “But God’s grace can use these catas­trophic events [the destruction of the First World War] to bring about a change.” Unfortunately no efforts were made on either side of the Atlantic after the conclusion of the First World War to establish contacts between Missouri Synod theologians and the leaders of German Lutheranism. American Lutheranism today has a vital stake in German Lu­theranism.
After Mayer seemingly complimented Pieper on his “prophetic words”, he then offers a veiled criticism by saying “unfortunately no efforts were made” after WWI, utterly ignoring Pieper's clear basis (see also this blog post addendum).  

The same method (praise, then tear downis being used today in the new LC-MS text book Confessing the Gospel. In the Preface, p. xxvii, chief editor Samuel H. Nafzger stated: 
“But if Pieper is correct in his assessment of what a truly modern presentation of Christian doctrine in its true sense is, then there is a pressing need for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod to do for our day what Pieper did for his, namely, to present the gospel taught in Scripture and confessed in the Lutheran Confessions in light of ecclesiastical developments of both the past and the present. It is for this reason that this project was initiated 30 years ago.”
Nafzger attempts to use Pieper's statement to justify this new textbook of the LC-MS.  But it is evident even from the “Look Inside” text that it is in many ways rather a regression to the same old LC-MS in its syncretism (Glaubensmengerei, mixed belief), never quite attaining the pure Gospel and putting its tainted “Gospel” over the infallible Holy Scriptures. 

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