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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Stoeckhardt 5: Missourian! On Conversion & Election; Part 4e

      This concludes from Part 4d a sub-series (see Part 4a) of a wider series (Table of Contents in Part 1) of Franz Pieper's addresses at the "going home" (funerals) of  Old Missouri's earliest teachers.  This Part 4x sub-series presents the address at the funeral of Dr. George Stoeckhardt.
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      In the previous installment, Pieper included Stoeckhardt as one the chief defenders at his side against the synergism of other American Lutherans, chiefly the Iowa Synod (#6-7) and the Ohio Synod.  He pinpointed the two doctrines: Conversion and Election of Grace.  But he was not finished highlighting these doctrines.  He ties this great battle in America to the Father of the Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther.  And we find out that he, of all people, would know… the heart of Walther. — Now I present the conclusion of Franz Pieper's address, a milestone in the History of the Missouri Synod, at the funeral of "our dear George Stoeckhardt" (from 1913 Der Lutheraner vol. 69, p. 20, bolding, highlighting are mine):
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We have always been accused as so-called Missourians, that we made too much of our dead and also living public teachers, that we put their authority in place of Holy Scripture. This is not so. We keep in mind through the grace of God that even our most gifted teachers are fallible human beings, and that we have the duty, imposed on us by God, to examine all that they speak and write according to God's Word, whether it is so. Even more: when we do this test, we find that they, too — including Walther — have not met it in every word in individual arguments and occasional remarks. "Whosoever fails not in any word, he is a perfect man."  To be lacking in no words is confined to a small class of men in the Church, to the holy apostles after Pentecost, and the scribes of the Holy Scripture.  All the other teachers of the Church are right teachers because and in so far as they teach the Word of Scripture and, where they once have their own thoughts, they let them go, and return to the Word of Scripture.  We are, as Luther expresses it, true teachers, inasmuch as we are pupils of the Apostles and children of the Prophets, who do not speak their own, but the doctrine of the Apostles and the Prophets.  So we may also say of  ourselves and our fathers: we are the true teachers because we remain by God's grace in the Word of God in all the articles of Christian doctrine.
Twenty-six years ago, at about this time of the year, I was sitting at the sickbed of Dr. Walther.  We discussed what primarily filled our hearts, our struggle for the doctrine of Conversion and Election of Grace. Walther then expressed himself with these words: “You know, the dispute was hard, very hard. We have experienced a lot of opposition. But I could not help it. When the Lord Christ asks me on the Last Day why I taught thus, I will answer: Thou, O Christ, with your clear Word hath taught me and seduced me.”  —  These are the teaching gifts which God has bestowed on us in our fathers and brethren who have gone home.  For this we give thanks to God, sincere thanks!  Who are we, that God has considered us in grace?
But how will it be in the future?  Will God deprive us of His gifts?  We would have deserved it with our manifold ingratitude. But we humble ourselves before God and flee to his grace. And God has never denied the humble, crushed and broken heart a request. Besides, it indeed concerns the Church. The Church is very close to our Savior. It is His body, His own spiritual body. He can give her everything she needs, for He has everything in heaven and on earth in His hand. And He will give her all things, for He is a Savior to His body. Therefore we ask with the confidence of being heard:
Oh, stay with your grace
With us, Lord Jesus Christ,
That we should not be sorry
The evil enemy’s deceit.


Oh, stay with your faithfulness
With us, my Lord and God!
Lend us constancy;
Help us from all need!
Amen.
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Missourians – Infallible teachers?
      One of the consistent charges made against Old Missouri by its enemies was that it claimed infallibility for its teachers.  This would go something like: "You think you are the only right teachers"!  Today many of those enemies of Old Missouri are the teachers of the LC-MS:

Dr. David Scaer's charges against Old Missouri/Pieper
(2003 Logia, 12-1, p. 37):
Scaer Charge #1:
“…the edited version of 1932 [Brief Statement] do(es) not even reference the Lutheran Confessions once, as Sasse noted.”
False: The Brief Statement of 1932 references the Book of Concord in 9 places.


Scaer Charge #2:
“… this thinking is that the synod’s position is ipso facto identical to that of the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. This was hardly Pieper’s intention in his A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod”…, though it could be understood this way.”
False: Pieper is quoted saying exactly what Scaer says he did not intend, and makes Pieper appear the fool. (Scaer then goes on to claim that the Brief Statement contradicts the Confessions on the the teaching of "ordination", but he does not know the intent of the Confessions on this point.)
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Pieper flatly denies this charge of "infallibility", saying that even Walther can be included among those where some of their words did not meet God's Word.  The only infallible teachers were the Apostles and Prophets in their writings of Holy Scriptures.   I must repeat Pieper's claim for those "so-called Missourians":
“We are the true teachers because we remain by God's grace in the Word of God in all the articles of Christian doctrine.”
Prof. David P. Scaer speaks as the opponents of Old Missouri, the Iowa and Ohio Synods. — Compare Pieper against Scaer on who each one humbles themselves before:
Franz Pieper: “…we humble ourselves before God” –  1913
David Scaer: “It is humbling to discover that someone [Herman Sasse] half a century ago was saying the things you thought original.” – (2003 Logia, 12-1 p. 39)
Scaer humbles himself before Sasse – Pieper humbled himself before God.  (Anyone who thinks Dr. David Scaer is like Old Missouri should read what he writes in 2003 Logia 12-1 – his full article is here.)

Conversion & Election of Grace
      There those two doctrines are again!  Just as Pieper praised "dear Stoeckhardt" on his prominent defense of these doctrines in the controversies with the opponents of the Missouri Synod and the Synodical Conference, he ties this again to Walther, to "our struggle", the "hard, very hard dispute" with "a lot of opposition".   And part of Stoeckhardt's legacy as a true defender of Christian doctrine is written into… the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod.

Pieper: Walther's successor
      Pieper reveals part of the reason why he, at such a young age, would succeed Walther, the founding father of the Old Missouri Synod, as President of Concordia Seminary.  Some wondered that the successor would be George Stoeckhardt – Walther had in earlier times indicated a strong preference for Stoeckhardt.  But we now see Walther speaking so closely with the much younger (~35) junior associate. Some might have thought even then that Stoeckhardt should have been Walther's successor, for he too ministered to Walther at his sickbed.  But he wasn't.  It was Franz Pieper.  Why?  We can see here that Walther knew in the "hard, very hard" doctrinal controversies, that that young man at his bedside was the one that God had sent for the future of his dear Missouri Synod!

What about "here and now", and the future?
Dear God! We are a stiff-necked and stubborn generation, have mercy on us!  For your mercy's sake, grant us teachers as Walther, Pieper, and George Stoeckhardt!  In Jesus name, Amen!

(The next blog post begins my polemic against the misuse of "exegesis".)

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