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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stoeckhardt 1: Best modern exegete goes home, Pieper's address, Part 4a

      This continues a series of blogs (from Part 3, Table of Contents in Part 1) presenting Dr. Franz Pieper's words of comfort at the passing of fellow teachers of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. -- But this begins another sub-series…
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      Because Pieper was so young when he first became President of the seminary, he was called on to give an address at the funerals of most of Old Missouri's first teachers.  One of the most important of these was the last one to pass away who was pictured at the right, Dr. George Stoeckhardt, on January 9, 1913.
     How these addresses spotlight the Christian's hope in the time of death!  Pieper always referred to the deceased as one who has "gone home".  I have often re-read my quote of the famous Russian scientist Vitaly Ginzburg who said “I envy believers.… I cannot believe in resurrection after death.” Poor, unbelieving scientists!  But this is not the case with the dear teachers of Old Missouri, no envy among them, only this, a longing for "home".
      Pieper's address contains some especially notable statements that have caused me to break it up into a 5-part sub-series.  It was taken from Der Lutheraner, vol. 69-2, January 21, 1913, p. 18-19.  The translation (only the indented text blocks below) is by BackToLuther, highlighting is mine:

† Prof. Dr. G. Stöckhardt. †
Commemorative address, held in the aula of the theological seminary.
By F. Pieper.

In Christ, cordially beloved funeral assembly, especially honored colleagues and dear students of Concordia!
The Holy Scripture, in which God speaks to us, reveals to us God's heart. It reveals to us in particular how God's heart is toward us in all adversity which we have met with and still meet. How is God so worried about our salvation and well-being? The great God is, so to speak, altogether caring for of our salvation, for no man could reconcile God, He Himself took reconciliation into His own hand. He has reconciled us with Himself through the death of his Son. Then He has given the Word of the existing reconciliation, the Gospel, by which He gathers a Church, a Christendom, on Earth. All Christians are wise, spiritually understanding people. They are all taught by God, they know Christ, their Savior, and proclaim the virtues of Him who has called them from darkness into His marvelous light. [1 Peter 2:9]  But even more! [S. 19, col. 1] The Savior, exalted to the right hand of God, also gives his Church special teaching gifts in individual persons. He equips individual members of the Church with special gifts, with which they serve the Gospel and thus the Church. The exalted Savior has set some to apostles, some to prophets, some to evangelists, some to shepherds and teachers.
We are especially reminded of these teaching gifts, which God gives to His Church, where we stand before the fact that God has called from our midst a most excellent teacher. Our dear Dr. Stöckhardt has been transferred from the Church of teachers of the Word and Faith, to the Church of Sight. We stand still for a moment and ask ourselves what we have to retain from the teachers which the risen Savior of his Church has granted to its service. According to God's Word, we recognize it as a gift of His grace, and thank Him heartily for it; and we ask Him, with the confidence of being heard, that He will not refuse such gifts to us.
Indeed! We recognize teachers of the Church as a gift of God. No one, not even all men taken together, can make a Christian teacher. Luther rightly says: “Doctors of art, medicine, law, etc., can the pope, emperor, and universities make; but be assured, a doctor of the Holy Scriptures will make no one but only the Holy Spirit from heaven.”  In the Christian Church, there is nothing at all that is made, here everything is God's gift and work. Only God's gift and work is the faith of Christians. Only God's gift and work are also the right teachers of the Church. What is not God's gift and work is useless.  Then what belongs to a true Christian teacher?  First of all the basis is the personal heart of faith. But the Scripture says, "We believe according  the working  of His mighty power.” [Eph. 1:19]  This includes secondly the facultas docendi, the special gift of public teaching.  On this the Scripture says again, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” [2 Cor. 3:5]  To a true teacher belongs, thirdly, a great inner power and strength, the power and strength to subordinate all his own thoughts and the thoughts of all other men to God's Word, and to hold fast to God's Word, in spite of the enmity of the devil, the world, and his own flesh. No man can do that by himself. This is God's gift and work in us, as St. Paul reminds Timothy: "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." [2 Tim. 2:1]

The reader will note that for several paragraphs, Pieper has said little of the deceased.  He uses considerable time to teach first from God's Word, the true source of all comfort.  He said the first qualification of a true Christian teacher was faith in the heart, or what he elsewhere calls a fides divina or the testimony of the Holy Spirit, a divine faith worked by God. (Pastor Martin Noland stumbles on this.)  But now, he begins to name names:

Such gifts of teaching have been given by God to our synod, and especially to our theological institution. I need only name the names: Walther, Schaller, Lange, Günther, Gräbner, and now also Stöckhardt. All were glorious gifts of God to His Church. It is permissible for me to dwell on the memory of these men for a moment. I have been allowed to work with all of them over a long period.  Five of them I may from this place, where I stand now, in the name of the institution and the church, call words of grateful remembrance.  

Pieper introduces the names of several men, teachers who have gone before George Stoeckhardt.  It is quite a list and it includes the first teachers of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, men that Pieper worked with personally.  Since Pieper lived well into the 20th Century, he is the best church historian of Old Missouri for our time.  In the next Part 4b, Pieper makes an assertion that will put most modern LC-MS teachers and leaders into a tailspin, especially in this year of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  What would Pieper say about… Walther?
- - - - - - - - - - -   Stoeckhardt Sub-Series --> Table of Contents  - - - - - - - - - - -
Part 4a – Stoeckhardt goes home: Pieper's preliminary teaching (this blog post)
Part 4b – Walther is 2nd only to… who?
Part 4c – 4 past teachers of Old Missouri, Pieper's thoughts (Lange complimented)
Part 4d – And now our dear Stöckhardt! Who is a true exegete?
Part 4e – Missourian! On Conversion & Election; at Walther's sickbed (Pieper closes address)

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