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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hoenecke 3: his training; his praise of Walther

[2017-12-30: added note at bottom]
      This continues from Part 2 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series repristinating the praise of the fathers of the Synodical Conference, especially Adolf Hoenecke.
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      Now Pieper continues with his own assessment of Hoenecke in relation to Walther, starting off with a BANG! ... making a statement that irritates almost all of today's church historians.  Then, after more biographical details, we hear the words of Hoenecke himself on… C.F.W. Walther.
Extract from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 1, pp. 206, 208-211; translation by BackToLuther, not  from Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 171 n230, 173-174. Bolding is mine.  Green highlighted portions were not in the English versions, were restored from the German and translated for the first time.
—————— (cont'd from Part 2) ——————
We find no doctrinal difference between Walther and Hönecke, wherein we rightly see again a testimony of the unifying power of the Word of God. Like the fathers of the Missouri Synod among themselves, Walther and Hönecke were strongly distinct and different characters. They also came from different ecclesiastical backgrounds.

Hönecke studied theology in Halle under Hupfeld, Julius Müller and Tholuck, at a time when in Halle the rule of rationalism was already broken. Hönecke says in his dogmatics of Tholuck: “Tholuck has pointed the way of life to many of his students, but he was grudging toward them if they went on stricter confessional paths as the author of this dogmatics, but he always adored him as a man. He had much to be thankful for.” Hönecke came to the United States in 1863, twenty-four years after the immigration of the Saxons, as ambassador of the Berlin Missionary Society, in order to work in the church care of immigrant Germans. He became a member of the Wisconsin Synod and soon her theological leader, as already reported by Prof. Schaller's words above.

It is probably appropriate here to point out that Hönecke in his Dogmatik (I, 320 ff. [pp. 320-323; English ed. pp. 347-349]) also describes Walther as a theologian. In this account of Walther, Hönecke describes himself as a theologian at the same time, as is apparent from the attached judgments. He says about Walther:
“Carl F. W. Walther was a Scripture theologian. [Cf. the article Walther als Theologe by Dr. Francis Pieper in Lehre und Wehre, 34, 5 ff – sic! Page # incorrect in Hoenecke’s original book, p. 97 passim or see this blog post for reference, esp. here, Part 3..]
What Kattenbusch,[* see note below] the follower of Ritschl, (Von Schleiermacher zu Ritschl, p. 3) points out as Walther's weakness, that he once again set the watchword for dogmatics: “Only loci!” since it is the signature of revelation that we learn only unconnected pieces from God’s mysteries, that must be credited as praise for Walther. He thereby joins the ranks of genuine Lutheran theologians, while the so-called ‘confessional’ theologians over there, as they seek actual systems, are under the influence of Schleiermacher (pic), as Kattenbusch also explains. Creating systems to harmonize seemingly contradictory doctrines is, according to Walther, not the task of the theologian. On the contrary, he considers all building of systems to be harmful and not gain in theology; it does not bring deepening but only dissolution of the doctrines. He agrees with the words of Luther: “If it is to be harmonized, so shall we not keep one article of faith.” Just as little he considers the task of the theologian to be systematizing and harmonizing doctrines, so also what the moderns want so much, reconciling Scripture and Science, faith and knowledge. Thereby Scripture and faith must suffer according to him.
For all his respect for real science (Lehre and Wehre, Vol. 21, Foreword,), scientific theology in the sense of the moderns is something foreign to him.
Science should serve in theology only as a maid; if she wants to be more, she has to go out. It already corrupts Scripture theology when one means to help the written Word with scientific proof.

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The Theologians of America

      When I first read Pieper's statement that the theology of Hoenecke and Walther was the same, I did not think much about it.  But after reading the onslaught of judgments by many historians to the contrary, this statement takes on major significance.  For Pieper shows a basis for his assertion from Hoenecke's own words which leaves all other judgments to the contrary suspect at best, deceptive at worst.  Here Pieper rubs our nose in Hoenecke's published exact words of highest praise for Walther's stand against a world of theologians going astray. 
      Hoenecke also adds his name to those defending against the encroachment of Science into theology.  We have seen in a previous blog how Prof. John Schaller followed Hoenecke's lead by defending against a “Science” that would lead Christians away from their faith.  And Hoenecke refers to Walther's great essay that later was translated into English under the title “Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship?” in Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Editorials from "Lehre Und Wehre", p. 122-142. (Lehre and Wehre, Vol. 21, Foreword, p. 1-13, 33-42, 65-80 (1875). (see also this blog)

      Here, Wisconsin Synod, here is the greatest tribute ever paid to the theology of your Hoenecke, by... Franz Pieper.  —  In the next Part 4
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[2017-12-30: A.C. Piepkorn makes use of the German theologian Kattenbusch in his essay "Walther and the Lutheran Symbols" (CTM, October 1961, vol. 10, p. 610; digital text here).  Piepkorn apparently agreed with Kattenbusch who attacked Lutheran Orthodoxy, thinking they stressed Holy Scripture too much over the Lutheran Confessions.]

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