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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Augsburg Confession @ 487: Mendelssohn; Vom Schem Hamphoras PDF download

      Today marks a most glorious event in all of Church History – the 487th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession.  Someone recently suggested a commemoration of this event is fitting for this year of the 500th Anniversary (Quincentenary) of the Reformation.  I have 2 ways of celebrating this event:

(1) Readers (like me) may celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by listening to Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5, the The Reformation Symphony.  Felix Mendelssohn was a composer born a Jew but became a Christian.  The Wikipedia article on him reports he was baptized into the "Evangelical" (i.e. not Lutheran but Reformed) church.  Another article reports that his Symphony No. 5 was to honor the 300th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession (bolding mine):
Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 … was composed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession and thus bears the title The Reformation Symphony.
But finally it is reported that some modern scholars attempt to demonstrate "that Mendelssohn was deeply sympathetic to his ancestors' Jewish beliefs".  They could argue that all day long, but it is hard to swallow when one listens to his Reformation Symphony which clearly based its melody on Luther's most famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" (TLH-262).  That is certainly an odd way to be "sympathetic to his ancestors' Jewish beliefs"!  Let these modern scholars argue all they want... let them repeat Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony (in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession)... over and over again, to "honor his ancestors' Jewish beliefs"!  Indeed, I fail to see that Mendelssohn even honored the Reformed Church's break from the Lutheran Church by his Reformation Symphony!  I say let these modern scholars "chatter and cackle" all they want!
      The world today attempts to draw the focus away from Mendelssohn's Jewish background, because he became a Christian.  But I will honor Felix Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony. Indeed, may this blog post honor this "Jewish" Christian and the honor he gave the first Lutheran Confession in his Reformation Symphony.  How I love to listen to this symphony… over and over again!  And in today's Internet Age, there is a free way to celebrate the Internet (thank you Google!) with a free rendering of… The Reformation Symphony:

(2) A second way to celebrate this day would be to read (or reread) Luther's polemical writing of Vom Schem Hamphoras.  A reader recently has found it helpful to assemble all 8 Parts from my blog into one PDF file for readability (and printability).  He has granted me the right to offer it to the public.  One may download it >> here <<.  If time is short, just read pages 61-68 on the name "Jehovah" – Franz Pieper recommended that this section be read over and over. — If there are future updates to this PDF, they will be noted here.

May both of these steps be a tribute to the 
Augsburg Confession
June 25, 1530

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Concordia Triglotta – now in Google Books (Part 1)

      Up until now, my only online source for all things "Lutheran Confessions" or "Book of Concord" was sponsored by the LC-MS.  The searchable text, the parsed and hyperlinked paragraphs, the links to sources, etc. have been of immeasurable benefit.  I have stated elsewhere that I consider it the main online source for all things related to the "Lutheran Confessions"…  and it is freely available.  Truly the one who did the work (Norm Fisher?) of preparing all the digital material for this website has done a great service for the Church.  Unfortunately this site's doctrinal article that states
"Scripture is authoritative, according to our Confessions, not because it contains and proclaims the Gospel – the Gospel is proclaimed in many writings – but because it is God's Word"
is clearly no longer applicable to today's teachers of the LC-MS who say the Bible is a "plastic text" and is not of divine origin but divine-human origin.
Now on Google Books

      However, it has come to my attention (perhaps others may already be aware of this… I wasn't) that the complete printed Concordia Triglotta was made available by Google Books (and HathiTrust - full view) as of January 6, 2017 ("Digitized Jan 6, 2017").  What a wonderful celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther's Reformation by… Google Books, HathiTrust, and the library of the University of California! Thank You!  (oh,… hmmmm)
      Anyone familiar with this massive book (I have the 1988 Northwestern Publishing reprint) knows that it includes Friedrich Bente's masterful Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
      I suppose someone from Concordia Publishing House (Paul McCain?) or Concordia Historical Institute or even Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) could inform us:  just when did CPH quit selling their 1921 Jubilee edition?  WorldCat shows that in 1955 Mott Press produced "An exact reprint of the original Concordia Triglotta, published in 1921."  And why was it that Mott Press and Northwestern (1988 & 1999), not Concordia Publishing, picked up these "exact reprints"?  Just why was it that the 1921 edition, which was the old (German) Missouri Synod's tribute to the 400th Anniversary of the Reformationdiscarded?  Could it be that the "confessional Lutherans" of the LC-MS did not care for their 400th Anniversary?  These questions come to mind:
  • Do today's "confessional Lutheran" teachers of the LC-MS really care about the 500th Anniversary?
  • Should we care about their "celebration" like they care about old Missouri's 400th Anniversary celebration?
So all my future hyperlinking of old (German) Missouri writings which refer to the Book of Concord, or the Müller edition or the Concordia Triglotta ("Trigl.") will now include links to this copy by Google Books.  Anyone (all LC-MS teachers?) using the Tappert edition or Kolb/Wengert edition or McCain's Reader's Edition (which are not publicly available online) will have to figure out their own cross-references.  I am content to know the Lutheran Confessions from old Missouri!  (Isn't the Internet wonderful?)

Latin and German versions
      For those wanting to research the original languages of Latin and German, the situation is irregular, a "mixed bag".  Although Google Books and HathiTrust properly OCR'd the Latin and English texts, unfortunately neither processed the printed German text in fraktur font.  However, the German text is available online at the BookOfConcord site (searchable but not parsed by paragraph), and as a downloadable scanned image (not searchable).  The Latin version is searchable at Google Books, but not at since it is only available as a scanned PDF image file and therefore not available to cite by section or paragraph – an oversight?
      I obtained the digital text documents for German only and Latin only versions some years ago, probably from a Northwestern Publishing House CD digital product.  The following language is inserted at various intervals in their text:
“Lutheran Church. Missouri Synod. (1997). Concordia Triglotta - German : The Symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Includes indexes. (electronic ed.) (:). Milwaukee WI: Northwestern Publishing House.”
A current search of the NPH website shows no indication that they are selling this any longer, so they appear to have divested themselves completely from all things "Concordia Triglotta".  —   I wonder that the text of these files was extracted by the webmaster of (Norm Fisher?).  Anyway, call me reckless, but I am going to make these digital documents freely downloadable here:
Note: if someone (i.e. CPH or NPH) wants to complain of copyright issues, I will remove the above links.  I am making these files available because the content is already freely available from (1) and (2) Google Books, now in this year of the 500th Anniversary of Luther's Reformation, 2017.  Yes, I will celebrate this, just like the old (German) Missouri Synod did 100 years ago with their Quadricentenary Jubilee, I will celebrate this edition for the
Quincentenary Jubilee anno Domini 2017!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      To further celebrate this unveiling by Google Books, I want to highlight just one small portion which had a big impact – a Reformation.  It has to do with the doctrine that started my research leading up to the above discovery: Franz Pieper's teaching on "sola fide" or the teaching of "by faith alone" – in my next Part 2a.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -   Table of Contents   - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Part 1 - this blog post
Part 2a - Lutheran shibboleth: SOLA fide– Luther & Triglotta (and Catholic Encyclopedia)
Part 2b - Warfare against SOLA fide
Part 2c - Lutheran confusion of SOLA fide?… not Triglotta!
Part 3 - Triglotta– difficult, impossible, not serious? OR Great work! Golden! (Scaer/LC-MS)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Luther’s warning: “I believe what Church believes” (the "Köhler" or “charcoal-burner's faith”)

      In continuing my project of hyperlinking the references in Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik work, I ran across his quote from Luther's writing that sounded so familiar to me.  (CDk1, p. 512, n. 1190)  A little research found that it does not seem to be in the American Edition of Luther's Works, but it surely has been quoted by many – somewhere – because it sounds so familiar!  And because the translation in the English edition Christian Dogmatics (vol. 1, p. 429, n. 55) did a great service of presenting this famous passage in English, I want to republish this short section.  (German speakers can read the text at St. L. XVII, 2013, #15 or here.)  But a little background will help to understand one of the terms used for people outside of Germany.
"Köhler" or "charcoal-burner"

The terms "Köhler" and "Köhlerglaube" are used by Luther and Pieper in the German language, and this is translated as "collier" in the English edition of Pieper's work.  "Köhler" means "charcoal-burner", but "collier" can also mean "coal miner" so the English translators took some liberty in using the term "collier".  There is a very interesting article in the German Wikipedia on "Köhler", the "charcoal-burner"... he "led a poor, lonely life".  And let it be known that the German term "Köhlerglaube" is translated by Google Translate as "blind faith", not "collier's faith".  As to the reason why it is translated this way will become apparent by the following story from Martin Luther.  So with this explanation of terms, I now will let Luther proceed with his story:

“The story is told that a doctor of theology, meeting a charcoal-burner on the bridge at Prague and taking into account that he was but a poor layman, asked him: ‘My good man, what do you believe?’ The charcoal-burner answered: ‘I believe what the Church believes.’ The doctor: ‘And what does the Church believe?’ The charcoal-burner: ‘The Church believes what I believe.’ Later, when the doctor came to die, the devil so severely troubled him as to his faith that he knew not where to turn and found no rest until he said: ‘I believe what the charcoal-burner believes.’ 
Thomas Aquinas

A similar story is told of the great Thomas Aquinas. As his end approached, he could find no rest from the devil until he said: ‘I believe what this book says,’ meaning the Bible in his arms. But God preserve us from such a faith! For if they had no better faith than this, both the doctor and charcoal-burner believed themselves into the abyss of hell.”
Ah, yes, we hear Luther speak of the famous Thomas Aquinas, a well-known Roman Catholic theologian.  And Luther shouts to us through the ages, that a "blind faith" is just that: a blind faith and not a true faith.  I remember the warning given by that phrase "I believe what the Church believes".  And on this point, the great teacher Franz Pieper chides the Papists:
They actually expect people to believe what the Church believes without knowing what the Church believes and Scripture teaches. To this Luther says: “God preserve us from such a faith!” 
Indeed, in this 500th Anniversary of Luther's Reformation, may "God preserve us from such a faith"!   May no reader of this blog "believe themselves into the abyss of hell"!  For we know "that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14) and that "He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pieper on Luther: His Mightiest Hymn? (on John 3:16 – 500th Anniversary Luther sermon)

      While continuing my project of presenting Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik online and adding hyperlinks to the many references he gives, I ran across the following statement by Pieper in an extended footnote (Christian Dogmatics 2, p. 8, n. 14; CDk2-7n19):
“Luther’s exposition of John 3:16 (“God so loved the world, etc.”) is perhaps the mightiest hymn on the love of God for all mankind ever sung by a teacher of the Church.” (St. L. XI: 1092 f.)
I could not just pass up this recommendation by Pieper and let it go unnoticed without highlighting it as a memorial for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  Pieper was in the middle of drawing out the heart of the Reformation, listing all the individual synonyms of God's love.  And this recommendation by Pieper is for me one of the highest praises there is in the world today for a specific sermon of Luther.
     Because Pieper only references the St. Louis Edition of Luther's works, I had to do a little research.  What I discovered is that this sermon of Luther is available online in Google Books here from one of J.N. Lenker's old translations. (See HathiTrust Catalog Record here for The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther.) But a little research discovered that the New Series of the American Edition of Luther's Works has this same sermon re-translated and perhaps a little more readable.  In fact this new version of Luther's sermon is freely available to the public in CPH's "Look Inside" PDF preview file here.  It is in Volume 77 (Church Postil III).
      I have highlighted another "greatest" sermon of Luther elsewhere (on John 1:29).  And it would have no benefit to try to rank one sermon over the other.  But Pieper's praise of Luther in this sermon means this is indeed one of his greatest.  And so I want to present Lenker's full text in this blog post:

Full document available to view >> here <<.

At paragraph # 43, p. 366: Luther sums up the situation:
“Here is the verdict which makes the distinction between the saved and the damned. It does not depend upon how worthy or unworthy you are, for it has already been determined that all are sinners and deserve to be condemned; but it depends upon whether you believe in this Jesus Christ or not.”
And on the much misunderstood doctrine of "faith", Luther is the definitive teacher (para. 30):
“Of what benefit is the gift of faith if it is nothing more than such an empty vessel? Of what value unless one looks upon and comforts one's self in the thought of what is comprehended in it, and what alone makes it precious, so that one may say: Faith may be but a little and insignificant monstrance or box, but in it, nevertheless, there is so precious a gem that heaven and earth cannot contain it.”
And what is that "precious gem" that Luther speaks about?  It is the universal, objective truth that God has changed His heart, He has turned away from His wrath and declared all sinners justified and confirmed it on Easter morning.  Now He bids all people to believe this glorious Gospel.  --
      I thank God for Dr. Franz Pieper who brought the Reformation into such clear focus after 400 years and set the stage for our 500th Anniversary. -- Thank God for Luther's Reformation!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Pieper anniversary - Der Luth. notice of CPH book What Is Christianity?

      Today marks the anniversary date of Franz Pieper's death – June 3, 1931.  As I was recently reviewing and updating my master Table of Contents to the Der Lutheraner periodical, I ran across the following full page announcement by Concordia Publishing House in 1933.

Original German text file here. Translation by BackToLuther.
In memory of Dr. F. Pieper.
(June 3, 1931 – June 3, 1933)
On the second anniversary of the death of Prof. Dr. F. Pieper we want to put on the market a book to remember again our beloved teacher and leader.  It contains six trustworthy papers that Dr. Pieper delivered before delegate and district synods during the last years of his blessed effectiveness.  To secure a wide distribution of these doctrinal lectures and to make possible for many their study, we have decided to issue it in the English language, not in a stiff literal translation, but rendered in easily legible, fluent English.  Dr. J. Th. Mueller, a colleague and admirer of his former teacher for eleven years, was appointed for this difficult work.  Dr. Mueller has always had a lot to do with studying the teaching method of Dr. Pieper in the presentation of Bible doctrines, and during the last couple of years he was particularly busy studying the writings of Dr. Pieper in the field of dogmatics and transferring them into English.

The book which will appear on June 3, 1933, the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Pieper, is titled What Is Christianity? and Other Essays and includes the following papers:
1. What is Christianity?  (1902)  (Das Wesen des Christentums.)
2. The Christian World View. (1923.)   (Die rechte Weltanschauung.)
3. The Reconciliation of Man with God. (1916)  (Die Versöhnung des Menschen mit Gott.)
4. The Layman's Movement in the Light of God's Word. (1913.)   (Die von Gott geordnete Leienbewegung.)
5. The Holy Bible.  (1921)  (Die Heilige Schrift.)
6. The Open Heaven. (1929)  (Der offene Himmel.)
It is hardly necessary to note that this collection of papers has high intrinsic value, and given the fact that these talks come from one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times, one should expect that all  members of our Synod will be interested in it.  This book is admirably suited to be used by the public as well to be incorporated by college and seminary libraries.  To help in this connection, and indeed also to have the effect that many personally buy the book, so we would like to ask the readers of this magazine.  
Concordia Publishing House, 1933The book will contain VIII and 290 pages and be tastefully bound in canvas hardcover with gold imprint title.
Price : $ 1.75 postage paid
To those whose order on this book reaches us soon we will gladly include a free copy of the short biography of Dr. Pieper which Dr. Theodore Gräbner published not long after his death. But we must note that our supply of this booklet is limited.


      When I ran across this announcement in Der Lutheraner, I pulled out my copy of this book and reviewed the features they included in this special book from "one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times" -- choice words from the book publisher!  (I have blogged previously about this book.)

      Concordia Publishing House quit selling the hardcover original version long ago.  Sometimes the original 1933 hardcover is available used on Amazon.  Thank God! that at least CPH has continued to sell in a "Print-On-Demand" format what they formerly highly recommended to all their readers.  Again, what was it CPH called Franz Pieper in 1933?

“…one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times”

† Franz Pieper †
June 3, 1931 (86 years ago today)