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Friday, October 19, 2018

Pieper — Rom. 16:17 (# 2, How division is judged)

      This continues from Part 1, Prof. Franz Pieper's sermon before the Synodical Conference convention of 1912. — Some years ago, a well-educated pastor of the ELCA told me "... you are the only person I know who studies extensively all of Old Missouri theological history".  Of course he is not correct, in part because this sermon was translated in Australia, not in America.  Apparently there are some in Australia who prefer to stay with "Old Missouri" and those faithful teachers in Australia who did not bow down to modernism.  —  We continue with Pastor Bryce Winter's translation of
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Opening Sermon (on Ro. 16:17)
Delivered by Dr. F. Pieper.
(Translation by Pastor Bryce Winter, ELCR 1997)
(continued from Part 1)
2. How division is to be judged (p. 10)

In our time one is not free from self contradiction in the judgment of division in the Christian Church. On the one hand, one mourns the division and emphasizes -- correctly --, how much more the Christian Church could accomplish, if it was not divided, but also externally was completely united. On the other hand, one however also often speaks, as if division does not have much significance, yes indeed even as if something good is intended by God. Every church body [Ed. communion] has its particular gifts and preferences. That is perverted human judgment. The Apostle’s judgment reads differently. He says: “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to (alongside of) the doctrine which ye have learned.” He does not call those who cause division something good or also merely indifferent, but an offense. Already the mere fact of division is an offense for the world and for weak Christians. The world thereby excuses its unbelief and weak Christians are misled from the faith. Even more the offense is evident, when we add that those who are causing the divisions have originated through departing from the doctrine of Christ. Different doctrine is brought as Christ’s Word, is a hit in the face of Christ, who wants to teach and rule the Church through His Word. Different doctrine brought as Christ’s Word, is also a hit in the face of the Christian, whose Christian dignity and Christian glory exist in this that they have not submitted to the word of men, but have submitted alone to Christ’s Word. And also finally: Different doctrine brought as Christ’s Word, can always only bring harm to souls. It is a question of life and death. The word of men, even if it be so well intended, can never save a single person of the human race dead in sins. God's Word alone can do that. Every word of men in the Christian Church is like grass and all his glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower decays (falls away), when men also flatter themselves that they could bring light to the whole world by their “understanding” or “further development” or “supplementing” of Christian doctrine. Only God’s Law, in so far as it is taught without weakening [watering it down, Ed.] and human addition, makes men to be truly poor sinners. Only God’s Gospel, in so far as it is proclaimed without being intermingled with the works of this Law, produces faith in Christ, confers the highest good on earth, the certainty of grace and salvation, and gives power and joy to walk the narrow way to eternal life. Every alteration of the Gospel through admixture of the works of men, whether one directly calls it merit or only right behaviour, is poison and death for the spiritual life, places itself as an obstacle, as a trap, as an offense between mankind and the grace and salvation obtained for them by Christ. Therefore the zeal of the Apostle that he pronounces the curse over all those who teach the Gospel of Christ different than he has taught it (Gal. 1:8). (p. 11)

Yet, aren’t there then any Christians in church bodies who do not continue in all parts of the Apostle’s word? Do we condemn all, do we deny salvation to all those who depart from God’s Word in any point? This judgment one assigns to us, but unjustly. We know from God's Word: there is in certain doctrines an erring out of weakness whereby Christianity can exist, if the person in his heart is a poor sinner and trusts alone in Christ as his Saviour. So many take part in external division, but continue at the same time to cling to Christ in their hearts. We think of the two hundred, who, called from Jerusalem, went with Absalom and knew nothing about the evil matter (2 Sam. 15:11). Of this fact the Apostle also points out in our text, when he speaks of “innocent hearts,” who “through sweet words and excellent speech” to whom division is an offense. God wants to have no other doctrine in the Church than His Word and fellowship with those who teach otherwise is an evil association forbidden by God and a constant danger for souls.
= = = = = = = = =  concluded in the last Part 3  = = = = = = = =

      In the concluding Part 3, Pieper turns to what is on the mind of every Christian, the Scripture's direction on how division is to be removed.  Only God's Word can supply that answer...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pieper's sermon — Rom. 16:17 (1912 Synodical Conference), Part 1

      In a May 2018 blog I lamented that there were so few sermons of Pieper that found their way into publication.  But I recently discovered another sermon obtained in 1997 from Australian Pastor Bryce Winter (ELCR — Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Reformation) who translated it.  
      Another condensed translation of this same sermon was published in C. S. Meyer's Moving Frontiers, pp. 288-290.  And it has come to my attention from Mark Braun's A Tale of Two Synods, p. 209, that the Wisconsin Synod reprinted, possibly in English translation, this sermon in their Theologische Quartalschrift, vol. 54, July 1957.  This shows the notoriety this sermon achieved in the 20th century among Lutherans of the Old Synodical Conference before its demise.  Oh, but the subject matter was to become far from popular and indeed has become a major issue in church fellowship matters!  I will touch on this later in Part 3...
      This sermon will be presented in three parts due to its length.  One will note Pastor Winter's usual method of inserting alternate translations in parentheses for possible better understanding of the original German words.  I have made only minor edits.  Now with thanks to Australia...
Pr. Bryce Winter

==========  (p.7)  ==========
Opening Sermon (on Ro. 16:17)
Delivered by Dr. F. Pieper.
(Translation by Pastor Bryce Winter, ELCR 1997)

Text: Romans 16:17-18: Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Venerable fathers and brethren!  In Christ, dearly beloved hearers!

If we look around in visible Christendom, then we are chiefly confronted by one extremely distressing scene: its division. Those who in the same way call themselves after Christ's name, are divided into a number of groups (factions) which are themselves engaged in mutual combat. This state of affairs is rightly deplored by all sides as miserable (pitiful) and is described as extremely harmful for church and world. Also we agree with full conviction in lamenting this state of affairs. But we are moved to examine the matter still closer when we hear and read the accusation that also just we Lutherans of the Synodical Conference cause and continue division by the position of our church, namely, in this way that we require the adherence to all parts of Christian doctrine and do not cultivate church fellowship with false doctrine. We reject the accusation raised against us as unjust and maintain the opposite with all determination that by the position of our church we are not bringing about division, but union and agreement. Who decides the propositions in this conflict? God's Word. God's Word clearly answers and decides all questions that have to be answered and decided in the church until the last day. This is also the case concerning the division within the Christian Church. The entire Scriptures are full of instruction concerning this point. In the text which has been read out we have

The instruction of the Apostle Paul concerning division in the Christian Church.

From this instruction we emphasize especially three points:

[1]   How division originates;
[2]  How division is to be judged; and
[3]  How division is to be removed.

[1] How division originates [p. 8]

First of all, we learn from our text something for our comfort. Our text reminds us, namely, of the fact that division in the Christian Church is nothing new. When we in our time lament over this division and have to endure this division, then we should not think that something strange is happening to us. The misery of division occurred also in the church of the Apostles and before the eyes of the Apostles. That also now arises (follows from) out of our text. When the Apostle still so urgently admonishes the Roman congregation with a final detailed explanation of Christian doctrine, to direct their attention on the people who are causing the division and gives instruction to isolate such people, then he is not fighting a scarecrow (dummy), but real existing dangers and actions which have already happened at other places.

However above all things the Apostle now teaches us about the important point how or whereby division originates in the Church. He says: “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to (alongside of) the doctrine which ye have learned.” Thus division is then caused, division then originates, when people come forward (arise) in the Christian Church, who alongside of the doctrine, that is, teach something different than Christ's Apostles, speak something different in the Christian Church than Christ's Word and find supporters for this (error). This results from the nature of the Christian Church. The Christian Church here on earth is a completely unique Kingdom, absolutely distinct from the kingdoms of this world. The different kingdoms of this world have different rulers and laws and accordingly are ruled differently. The Christian Church here on earth is not man's, but Christ's Kingdom and has in all countries and for all times until the last day only one Ruler, Christ, and only one Law for its Kingdom by which it is taught and ruled: that is Christ's Word, the Word, that He has given to the Church through His Apostles and Prophets. There is no place in the Christian Church for a word alongside of (Christ's Word) and for a Ruler alongside of (Christ).  Christ says in regard to His Church: “One is your Master, even Christ” (Matt. 23:8), and therefore inculcates (the following) as a Law in His Kingdom: “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). And that was valid not merely for the time, when Christ walked on earth, but for the Church of all times and at all places until the last day. In His High Priestly prayer Christ describes the Church until the last day as a community (fellowship) of people, who through their — that is, the Apostles' — word will believe on Him, John 17:20. St. Paul describes the Church as a house that is “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets”, Eph. 2:20, and says of his own teaching activity: “I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought [Greek: worked, Ed.] by me,” Romans 15:18. St. Peter lays down the principle for all [p. 9] teaching in the Christian Church: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (Word) of God,” 1 Pet. 4:11. The unity of the Christian Church in all different kinds of circumstances, times, nations and languages consists in its adherence to the Word of Christ and its separation from those who cause divisions in departing from this Word. In order to preserve this unity and to prevent division, the Apostle Paul therefore wherever he found himself sent to the congregations and to their teachers the message and the admonition never “to teach anything different”, but to hold fast steadfastly to the form (model, pattern, example) of sound (wholesome) words (2 Tim.1:15) which they have learned from the Apostles of Christ. From Athens he writes to the Thessalonians: “Stand fast and hold the traditions [oral teachings of God's Word which were proclaimed, Ed.] which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle [letter, Ed.],” 2 Thess. 2:15. He left Timothy at Ephesus in order to command (order) some that they “teach no other doctrine,” 1 Tim. 1:3. From Corinth he writes to Rome: “Avoid them”, those who teach another doctrine! Romans 16:17. From Rome he writes to Galatia and admonishes the Galatians that they have allowed themselves to be turned away to another kind of gospel, which however is not another (gospel) of the same kind (as Paul taught), Gal. 1:6 ff. And when he travels back from Europe to Jerusalem, he calls together the elders [pastors, Ed.] of the congregation of Ephesus to Miletus and warns them against people who will arise out of their own midst and will speak perverse doctrines to draw away disciples for themselves, Acts 20:29 ff.

Hence it is now clearly evident, when doctrine comes into consideration, on whom the cause (blame) for division falls in the Christian Church, namely, not on those who hold fast immovably to the doctrine of the Apostles, but rests on those who depart from it and teach a different [doctrine, Ed.].  We Lutherans of the Synodical Conference are now certain of it and have proven it before the church, that our doctrine, particularly also in the points raised in dispute, is not own word, but God's Word. We could and can in all points place the finger on God's Word and says: “There it is [Ed. stands] written.”  It is a complete overturning of the usage of Biblical language, if one claims that through our insistence on the pure, unadulterated teaching of the Word God we are causing and maintaining division in the church.

In our time one particularly demands “doctrinal freedom.” There is doctrinal freedom in the state, furthermore it is not a matter of the state to teach and to govern the Christian Church [Ed. in spiritual matters]. However there is no doctrinal freedom in the Christian Church, because in the Christian Church according to God’s command and order everyone who steps forward to teach should speak God's Word. Whoever in the Christian Church makes for himself the claim of doctrinal freedom, thereby demands the right to cause division in the Christian Church and set himself up alongside of Christ and revolts against Christ as the One Head and Ruler in the Church.

However with this we have already come to the second point concerning which we want to be instructed by the Apostle Paul, namely, how division is to be judged.
= = = = = = = =  continued in the next Part 2  = = = = = = = =

In the next Part 2, we learn from the Bible how division is to be judged...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reformation 501: Walther as Theologian (new book) - Part 1

      One year ago true Lutherans were celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Luther's Reformation.  The blog series I published then was a defense of Luther's doctrine and its "identity" with the Word of God. But the writer of the essay came not from Luther's time, or from the Age of Orthodoxy, or the 21st century. Prof. Eduard Pardieck wrote the essay in the 20th century as a true member of "Walther's Church", the Missouri Synod from above.  I have gone back to that series on occasion to strengthen my Lutheran faith when I grow weary of our modern theologians of today.
      Now a year later, 501 years after Luther's Reformation, I have been informed of a project to take an earlier serial publication from my blog, "C.F.W. Walther as Theologian", and present it in a much more readable format. A reader who has benefited from this series has recognized the need for a compiled and formatted version suitable for printing and to be put into a book format.

      In 1992, J. A. O. Preus II, former President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, wrote a Preface for Essays for the Church, the Concordia Historical Institute / Concordia Publishing House collaboration of "all the essays which Walther delivered to... conventions" translated into English.  In his preface Preus confessed (emphases mine):
"Sad to say, though I had the privilege of teaching theology and serving as president of the Missouri Synod, I never really felt that I knew much about Walther ... as a theologian on a broader basis, ... I did not know enough about Walther and was so poor in the language he used..."

President Preus was quite candid in his remarks and one wonders that he may have used better judgment in some of his weaker actions during the tumultuous period in LC—MS history had he given more attention to Walther, "the language he used" (German), and his theology.  Preus went on to express his elation over the 1992 appearance of these convention essays.  But perhaps he knew more than he realized when he published his 1971 book It Is Written.  I suspect that both Walther and Pieper would have commended him for this book. Concordia Publishing continues to offer this book, albeit only in a Kindle format for $10

But now although I had already published an online version of the English translation of Franz Pieper's series "C.F.W. Walther as Theologian", a new book is about to be presented that aids  J. A. O. Preus's great lament ... to know Walther as Theologian... better. --

It is planned to have this new work appear on this blog site ... look for it to appear on Reformation 501,
October 31, 2018.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Men on the moon or… where? (young Walther)

A story I read in Polack's The Story of. C.F.W. Walther (1935), p. 21-22, struck me as evidence of Walther's later firmness in defending against the encroachment of “Science” in matters of religion:

      “When I was still tutor in Kahla in 1834, I occasionally disputed with my principal on the question whether everything in the Bible is trustworthy, divine truth. My principal was not at all antagonistic to Christianity, but in his youth he had imbibed many rationalistic ideas, which had not been entirely eradicated. He held, for instance, that what the Bible said about the stars was only the personal opinion of Moses and had not been inspired by the Holy Spirit. He therefore believed that the stars were not mere luminous bodies, but inhabited by similar creatures as our earth. My efforts to change his mind were in vain.

One day he came into my room with a beaming countenance, holding a newspaper in his hands, and said: ’My dear Candidate, you are beaten. I have just read in this paper that the great astronomer Herschel, Jr., who went to Africa at the beginning of this year, has by means of a huge telescope discovered manlike creatures on the moon. Read it for yourself.’  I did so, and the paper actually contained the account as told by my principal. But I then replied:
'Beg pardon, my dear principal, but I hope you do not believe that? Indeed, I declare that, if I myself would look through that telescope and see manlike creatures running around on the moon, I should not believe it; I should hold that these ostensible human beings must be in the telescope. 
Walther's Biblical Astronomy 
My principal thereupon said: ’I fully realize that nothing can be done with you!’ and impatiently left the room.”
      Walther then relates that about a half year later the newspaper retracted the article because it had been prepared by an impostor as a hoax and that the famous Herschel had never written it!

      That Walther could point to a later retraction of the story (the Great Moon Hoax) in no way takes away from his original stand... Walther stood 100% on the Holy Scriptures as the unbreakable, inviolable, inerrant, ultimate Truth.  He later confirmed this in America in 1868 when he counseled the Eastern District pastors to believe the Bible, not Copernicanism.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Marquart's finest essay? warning for today's LC-MS

[2018-09-20: added 2 notes at bottom in red on: Robert Preus and David Scaer; 2018-09-12: hyperlink added in red below]
      I have cautioned against Prof. Kurt Marquart († 2006) in places on this blog as he had some very real blind spots in his theology.  But 52 years ago he wrote an essay for Herman Otten's Lutheran News (now Christian News) that exhibited no small measure of insight in the near total apostasy of the LC-MS at that time and is surprisingly relevant for today's LC-MS.  

Although today's LC-MS is quietly leaving Marquart behind, yet its Christian Cyclopedia at least acknowledges Marquart's book Anatomy of an Explosion (available here only $4.99 $8.25) as having some benefit for understanding the events surrounding the 1974 "Walkout" and the subsequent formation of Seminex.  Since the LC-MS is still recommending his book, I want to highlight his essay written 11 years prior to his famous book.  Otten reprinted this essay in his A Christian Handbook of Vital Issues published in 1973, pp. 785-786.  All red highlighted words are Marquart's passionate warning words, now also for today's LC-MS:
The Luther Tower,
Concordia Seminary,
St. Louis, Missouri.

Meditation On a Tower
June 13, 1966 (Lutheran News)
By Rev. Kurt Marquart, Toowoomba, Australia.
Some recent issues of LUTHERAN NEWS and a Luther Tower publicity packet arrived here just in time to combine with the star of the Gospel for Exaudi (John 15:26-16:4) into one brilliant conjunction of meaning.
So Concordia Seminary finally celebrated its architectural coronation! And on the very day in May when the Red Slave Empire observes its annual ghoulish war-dances! It was Luther, thundering against the modern Pope and Turk: “The Word shall stand despite all foes!”
Or was he? Symbolically, yes. But what of the reality? Does Concordia Seminary still have a right to have a Luther Tower— or even only a Walther Arch? Does it still teach the theology for which it was built and dedicated?
Alas, another spirit now seems to dominate those beautiful buildings! Almost every week new and ever more shocking evidence appears that God’s Word is now hated and despised where once it reigned supreme! Through a thousand cracks the New Theology is oozing in—or out?! Exploratory essays, secret essays, ambiguous “formulations,” endless explanations, evasions, excuses, procedures, prevarications! And while the theological obscenities go unrebuked year after year, swift denunciations and defamations follow any Confessional protest, John 16:2!
Thank God, the pious mask is at last being torn off all this hypocrisy. While the new Luther Tower stands helplessly enveloped in nebulous theology and unctuous rhetoric about “the Word,” the “Gospel,” and soon, an increasing number of men whose lives are commemorated there are beginning to wake up to the frightful reality. A pastoral conference [2018-09-12 link added] resolving to tell all to their people, because they can see that the errors are not being corrected;
a professor [Dr. Robert Preus], like Jeremiah of old, giving an “Honest Answer” with all the fiery eloquence of an outraged conscience; a rising school of intelligent young theologians refusing to hold on, superstitiously, to the tails of all the important Liberal sacred cows: all these are signs that the hour of decision is coming. At last silence will be impossible, even in high places.
Dishonesty of Pretending
Cannot the Silent Service see the dishonesty of pretending that no one is teaching false doctrine, when the very C.T.M. lends itself to such obvious attacks on Scripture as Dr. A. C. Piepkorn’s “What Does ‘Inerrancy’ Mean?” (September, 1965)?
The arguments of that article have been sufficiently answered by Dr. [John Warwick] Montgomery and others. I will add only two footnotes. First, Dr. Piepkorn has embedded in his article, toward the end, a conscientious scruple which, if taken seriously, would bring down his whole essay like a house of cards. He cautions against violating, for fear of “being classified as obscurantists . . . our Lord’s words, ‘Whosoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels’ (Matthew 8:38).” Dr. Piepkorn does something very remarkable here, which no opponent of Inerrancy in our circles has as yet done: he introduces a Scriptural, a priori argument, a genuine theological leaven, which if allowed to leaven the whole lump, would destroy the entire objection to Inerrancy! The rest of the article, to be sure, is the usual approach, trying to resolve the Inerrancy issue on the basis of a posteriori human observation, impression, research, etc. Yet if we are truly not ashamed of such words of the Son of Man as John 3:12 and John 10:35, then we must accept the Scripture as inerrant on its own testimony and authority, before and without any scholarly inquiries into alleged errors and contradictions. Secondly, Dr. Piepkorn’s forte is of course the Lutheran Confessions. It is therefore particularly disappointing that he does not do justice to them. While admitting that “Lutheran clergymen and professors affirm … everything that the Lutheran symbols say about the Sacred Scriptures,” Dr. Piepkorn plays irrelevantly with the word “vocable,” and stages an elaborate safari into The Oxford English Dictionary, but studiously avoids telling us specifically what the Symbols do in fact say about the Sacred Scriptures. He says merely that “the freedom of the Sacred Scriptures from error is largely an unarticulated assumption of undefined scope”!
Special Pleading
Now that is special pleading with a vengeance! With Dr. Piepkorn’s well known penchant for almost pedantically meticulous citations of the ipsissima verba [or ipsius verba], particularly of the Symbolical Books, he had no right to omit to tell us, for example, that Luther’s Large Catechism says with all due articulation: “God’s Word can neither lie nor deceive” (“Gottes Wort kann nicht fehlen,” “nec potest errare nec fallere,” Baptism, 57)! [Triglotta German, Triglotta Latin, McCain, p. 429, Tappert, p. 444, Kolb-Wengert, p. 464]
And there, in the Latin, we have even the very “vocable” which, together with the negative prefix “in” (see Oxford Dictionary) gives us our word “inerrant”!
Now suppose that the Catechism had said: “God’s Word can both lie and deceive.” Undoubtedly this quotation would then be cast in our teeth with maddening regularity in English, German, and Latin, at every mention of Inerrancy! But since it says the opposite, it must be muted into “a largely unarticulated assumption”! This is tendentious “Haggadah,” [A legend, parable, or anecdote]  not an objective exposition of the Lutheran Confessions.
Some of Dr. Piepkorn’s colleagues, working in the very shadow of the Luther Tower, have published even more blatant attacks upon the Bible and the Reformation. And then there are the River Forest essays.
And the official fury? It spends itself largely in a cowardly castigation of those who refuse to be dumb dogs or to cry “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. …
When Will You Speak Up
To overlook and ignore all this, to excuse, cover up, and protect this shamelessly massive assault upon the very foundations of the Church, and then to name the tower of the very institution which prides itself on its confusion of tongues, after the great Reformer, is surely to invoke upon oneself the terrible Woe spoken against those who “build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous” (Matthew 23:29)!
Pastors, professors, officials—you who still have a conscience—when will you speak up? How long can you keep silent—and still save your souls? Cut through the slimy cobweb of lies! Take a stand, and be interiorly free again! Imitate Our Saviour in rejecting “influence” purchased at the price of even one moments’ adoration of Satan, Matt. 4:9 ff.!
Perhaps you will lose an official position. But think of your joy on the Day of Judgement, when you will be excused from the “special ceremony for dignitaries from the Greater Jerusalem area”!
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Dear God! ... when I read this essay, I could not help but be amazed that Marquart was blind to the same error in Hermann Sasse that he was defending against in Arthur Carl Piepkorn regarding the Inerrancy of Holy Scripture. Nevertheless, Prof. Kurt Marquart is not far behind in the footsteps of Prof. Theodore Engelder and his 1944 book The Scripture Cannot Be Broken. — This essay is a prelude to a future publication of Walther's Foreword to Lehre und Wehre of 1886 that I am in the process of translating now... perhaps later this year.
==>> The Bible is God's Word and is INERRANT -- THIS IS TAUGHT EXPLICITLY in Luther's Large Catechism. It is Confessional!
= = = = = = = = = = = = =
2018-09-20: A year later, Robert Preus, in his 1967 CTM essay "Notes on the Inerrancy of Scripture", p. 364, referenced the same source in the Confessions as Marquart did above: "Large Catechism (Baptism 57 [Tappert, p. 444]) : 'My neighbor and I – in short, all men – may err and deceive, but God’s Word cannot err'". — On quite the opposite side, David Scaer, in his 1971 book The Apostolic Scriptures, p. 67, said "The concept of inspiration as it has been generally understood ... has at times tended to prevent a fuller understanding of the Scriptures."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pieper-Theologian-8: "For Agreement"- true ecumenism

      This concludes from Part 7 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series presenting the full essay “Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian” by Concordia Seminary President Ludwig Fuerbringer. — In this portion, a false doctrine on Conversion and Election is vehemently rejected... and the full significance of sola gratia is given its due.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Translation by BackToLuther. Original publication in CTM, vol. 2, October, 1931 (Part 2, p. 801-807); underlining follows original emphasis, all hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.

Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian.
by Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer
(Part 8, cont'd from Part 7)

“Several church journals have recently reprinted again the following known narrative: ‘When the famous Dutch doctor Boerhaave one day wanted to open in his anatomy in front of his students the body of an executed offender, he suddenly became pale and began to tremble. The students looked at him questioningly, for they knew only too well that their professor was not overly soft. ‘O dear gentlemen,’ Boerhaave said, ‘with this man I have spent my youth. Now I am the esteemed Boerhaave, and he lies here. Let me tell you that, beside the grace of God, I know of no single reason why I do not lie here in his place.’” And then Pieper continues: “In this narrative the scriptural term of grace is expressed. The scriptural concept of grace also implies that in comparing those saved and the lost, the former are no better before God, or, what is the same, are in no less guilt before God than the latter. Whoever says:
‘I am saved by grace’, but then in a comparison of himself with the lost finds in his ‘behavior’ etc., the explanation why he is converted and saved in contrast to others, he has not yet recognized the Scriptural concept of grace and understands basically nothing of the revealed religion in the Holy Scriptures.  Therefore, the Old and New Testament Scriptures urge over and over again the right notion of grace.” (LuW 50, 433)
Again, this emphasis on sola gratia was not merely a theoretical, scientific statement, but just as the last quotation shows, in the purest sense of the word, practical theology.
He knew from personal experience of the heart that everything collapses and falls apart if our salvation does not rest solely on God’s free, undeserved grace, and so he quotes Luther’s words so often and so emphatically when Erasmus, the master father of all synergists, fought the doctrine of Grace, and the Reformer called out to him: “Iugulum petisti,” “you put the knife at the throat”, you [page 806] want to rob me of “Grace alone” (De Servo Arbitrio, St. Louis Edition XVIII, 1967) [Am. Ed. 33, p 294: “The Bondage of the Will”]. And in his synodical paper of 1929 he reiterated:
“It is noteworthy that even within the American Lutheran Church, ‘by grace alone’ was fought and rejected with great earnestness. In this country, not only was it taught that conversion and salvation were a matter of right conduct but also added, whoever does not teach so, but rather that conversion and salvation are attributed alone to the grace of God, were mistaken in the foundation of the faith, a false teacher, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a Calvinist. Those who in this country so seriously opposed us in the doctrines of Conversion and Election of Grace, presented themselves before Christ’s open heavenly door with the demand, which was summarized briefly but perfectly correctly as follows: Admission only on the basis of proper human behavior, no admittance except on good behavior. We do not mean proper conduct in itself, but only comparatively. We just mean that those who wish to go to heaven must show less reluctance and less guilt than those who are not converted and saved. But when we argue that way, we make it even clearer that our practice is closing Heaven. For it is precisely with the comparatively better behavior and the comparatively lower guilt that we ascribe to ourselves that we enter the Order of the Pharisees, who unjustifiably go down to their house, thus excluding themselves from heaven, as long as they remain members of the order. For this is how the Savior describes the thoughts of a Pharisee:
‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.’ [Luke 18:11] Luther uses strong language in terms of comparatively goodwill, a language that offends our civilized ears. Luther calls it the devil’s “secret” and “hideous deceit” when someone rises in his heart before God even over a whore. Literally Luther says: ‘God forbids that you raise yourself above any whore if you were Abraham, David, Peter, or Paul.’” (LuW 75, 232).
And in this testimony and defense of the doctrine of Grace, Dr. Pieper was not only polemical and negative — each of his articles is also positive, constructive —, but it was very important to him that the Lutheran Church in America would agree on this point.
This was really a matter close to his heart. Thus he wrote the  book Zur Einigung, which was also published in English under the title Conversion and Election, A Plea for a United Lutheranism in America, he emphasized this aspect again and again: in special articles in Lehre und Wehre, participated at inter-synodical conferences, illuminated the “Norwegian Unification Theses” (56, 456), wrote an article “Zur Einigung” [“For Agreement” - English translated Conversion and Election: A PLEA....] [page 807] (62, 145), dealt with the “St. Paul Union Theses” [1916 - ref. Chicago Theses] (63,1; text file here) and the “Madison Theses”, the so-called Norwegian “Opgjør” [or Madison Settlement] (63, 97; text file here; [Archive];]). And his last synodical presentation, as well as his last theological document bear witness to the great saintly earnestness which moved him in this matter throughout his life. We refer to his particularly beautiful, generally understandable presentation at the Delegate Synod of 1929, “The Open Heaven,” in which he again confesses the universalis gratia and the sola gratia with heart-touching words (75, 196).

The other document is the “Theses for a Short Explanation of the Doctrinal Status of the Missouri Synod” [or Brief Statement; Christian Cyclopedia] published recently in this journal in German and English. We may well say that in these theses, which were chiefly worked out by him in the winter months of this year, he laid down his last confession, as it were his will, to his church. He was already suffering when these theses, as they are now being adopted, were accepted by the committee in question, but they responded with complete zeal to this matter.
And when during one of the last conversations I had with him, just a few weeks before his death, when we came again to these things that always occupied him inwardly, he said to me with great, holy earnestness, as before the face of God, that he pledges himself to prove and defend these theses as a genuinely Lutheran doctrine before the Church and the world. [Pieper’s Last Words]
So it was a firm, determined, steadfast theologian, a faithful Lutheran theologian given to us and to the whole Church in Dr. Pieper, whose memory will hold up those who want to hold to the biblical-Lutheran doctrine.       L. Fürbringer.
In Christian Memory of
† Dr. Franz Pieper †
= = = = = = = =  End of essay  = = = = = = = =

      Ludwig Fuerbringer reported that Pieper “participated at inter-synodical conferences”, but I have seen no instance that he, as Pieper's successor, did the same.  Even Pieper's strongest associate, Friedrich Bente, grew frustrated during inter-synodical meetings with the opposing American Lutheran synods (Ohio and Iowa Synods, later the ALC).  But I never read where Pieper himself was “frustrated”.  It appears to me that Pieper always held out the hope that by always pointing to the Holy Scriptures themselves that the opponents eyes would thereby be opened.  Franz Pieper is painted as the great enemy of “ecumenism” today, but that is a fiction.  Rather Franz Pieper, as “Theologian” is to be considered the greatest proponent for true ecumenism, “for agreement”, “zur Einigung”, of our modern times.  Amen. —
      An upcoming series is planned to present my translation of the full essay of Ludwig Fuerbringer printed in the 1931 Der Lutheraner: “Memories of Dr. Franz Pieper”.