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Monday, February 12, 2018

Ecumenical Lutheranism (F.Pieper - 1930) - Part 2 (Concordia Journal, 1975)

      This continues from Part 1 (Table of Contents in Part 1), reprinting the English translation, from the first issue of Concordia Journal, of Franz Pieper's “Vorwort” (Foreword) to the first issue of Concordia Theological Monthly. — Why would the LC-MS in 1975 think to publish Franz Pieper's own writing, without any criticism, in English? ... I claim the same reason for my republication of Concordia Journal's 1975 article in 2018.
      Please note that the Concordia Journal translation has been changed: (1) italicized words corresponding to German emphasis have been changed to bold (compare to German text); (2) where the 1975 translation missed some emphasized words, I added the emphasis back in; (3) where Boecler missed adding Pieper’s few emphases in Luther’s “Great Confession”, I added them back in; (4) hyperlinks added to the references; (5) cross-references from the St. Louis Edition to the American Edition of Luther’s Works were added in places. — All bold words are Pieper's emphasis. All highlighting is by BackToLuther. Minor additions are prefaced with “BTL:”.

Franz Pieper's Foreword to Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 1
Translation by Paul H. F. Boecler  —  Part 2 (cont'd from Part 1)

“Lutheranism” has a sharply defined theological meaning for us. It is “ecumenical” when the whole world acknowledges the truth and validity of its message determined by Matt. 28:19-20, which reads: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
We are speaking of the kind of Lutheranism which is mindful of the rule in the family of God, the Christian church, stated in 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever speaks (in the Christian church), as one who utters oracles of God.” We have in mind that kind of Lutheranism which will listen obediently to the admonition of Christ until the last day—John 8:31-32: “If you continue in My Word [or, “in My teaching”], you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
       The objection that the Scripture passages just cited do not apply to the Lutheran Church particularly, but to the whole Christian church or all Christians in general, remains invalid. The Lutheran Church never professes to hold to something other besides the Christian doctrine, to be one “denomination” among the many other “denominations,” to add one more cipher to the number of denominations. On the contrary, she desires to teach and confess only what the Lord of the church has commanded all Christians, and in particular all who undertake to instruct others, to teach and confess. 
Regarding its teachings, genuine Lutheranism is always neither more nor less than uncorrupted Christianity, “Christianity pure and simple,” or as it was recently said during discussion on church unity [BTL: missing in translation: “in China”], “Genuine Lutheranism is ecumenical Christianity.” (Lehre und Wehre, LXXV [1929], 234 [“das echte Lutherum ökumenisches Christentum ist.”])

Genuine Lutheranism is the same in all countries. As far as doctrine is concerned, there is no specifically German Lutheranism. Rather, all German Lutheranism which rightfully bears this name is ecumenical Lutheranism. In matters of doctrine there is no specifically American Lutheranism. The same holds true of all geographical or national claims to be Lutheran—South American, European, Asian, Australian, etc.
Ecumenical Lutheranism also knows of no further development of Lutheran doctrine. It may become necessary in the course of time “to use more and different words than are found in the Scriptures,” as Luther once said to justify the use of the ecclesiastical term homoousios [BTL: “of one substance”] (St. Louis ed., XVI, 2211 f. [BTL: Am. Ed., LW 41, 82-83]). But by the use of “different and more words,” true Lutheranism in all times always brings to expression only that doctrine which already is found clearly revealed in the Scriptures. 
This is so because ecumenical Lutheranism holds to the Holy Scriptures as God’s own, infallible, majestic Word, to which the church even, up to Judgment Day dare add nothing, even as she is also not authorized to detract in the least from it. As the Lutheran Church of the 16th and 17th centuries was bound by the word “whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God,” so it is also the case with the church of the 20th century, and even to the end of days. The so-called further development of Lutheran [CONCORDIA JOURNAL/January 1975, p. 16] doctrine is based on the ruinous error, intentional or unintentional, that the Holy Scripture is not God’s own infallible and clear Word. Those who are held captive by this error, even though they are regarded to be “leading men” in the Lutheran Church, are standing in decided opposition to “ecumenical Lutheranism.”
Ecumenical Lutheranism holds itself to be bound by Christ’s command to teach Christ’s Word— neither more nor less. Therefore it is also a part of the true character of ecumenical Lutheranism to refuse the right of existence within the church to all deviations from the teaching of Christ. All teachers who are guilty of such deviations are to be shunned as “false prophets,” and this is to be done in compliance with the commands of Christ and His apostles: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matt. 24:4-5). “Take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). And the disciple, the one lying close to the breast of Jesus, “the disciple of love,” John, warns against churchly fraternization with all who do not bring this doctrine of Christ: “If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine (the doctrine of Christ, v. 9), do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting (as brother in the faith), for he who greets him shares his wicked work” (2 John 10-11). What has just been said also belongs to the character of “ecumenical Lutheranism.” These words of exhortation are valid not only for Christians of the apostolic church but are certainly intended for Christians in all places and for all times.
This ecumenical Lutheranism is the Lutheranism of Luther, and of the Lutheran Church expressed in its symbols. Luther powerfully inculcates the Christian duty lovingly and patiently to bear with the weak. He warns about displaying overweening arrogance against the weak by the reminder that he who is weak today could well be strong tomorrow, and the reverse could also occur. But Luther will never tolerate an attempt by the weak to use their weakness as the source and norm of Christian doctrine. In case they appeal to [BTL: missing: the] “love,” he offers the well-known sharp remark that this sort of “love” should be cursed to the bottom of hell, because it is the kind which will not permit God’s Word alone to bring about unity. Instead, “love” puts itself in the place of God’s Word as the means of unification.

[BackToLuther: StL. IX 555LW 26, 424-425, Luther’s “Lectures on Galatians”: “A curse upon any love and harmony whose preservation would make it necessary to jeopardize the Word of God!”, StL. IX, 645 f. – LW 27, 38: “A curse on a love that is observed at the expense of the doctrine of faith.”; StL IX 831 § 40 – this reference is from Luther’s exposition of Ephesians (Eph. 6:12), apparently not yet translated. Here is what Pieper is referring to, from the latter half of § 40 (German text), translated by BackToLuther: “No, dear man, do not give me peace and unity, over which one loses the Word of God; because that would already lose eternal life and everything. It is not a matter of giving way here, of granting anything to you or of some man to love, but the Word should be given the way to all things, whether he is called enemy or friend. For this is not for the sake of external or worldly unity and peace, but for the sake of eternal life. The Word and the doctrine should make Christian unity or fellowship; where it is equal and united, the other will well follow; if not, then there is no unity. Therefore, tell me only of no love or friendship, where one wants to break the Word or faith; for that is not called love, but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace and all the heavenly treasures.”]

[Concordia Journal Editor: Here Pieper calls attention to the numerous references to the terms “weak,” “the weak in faith,” and “weakness” (BTL: or “schwach”, “die Schwachen”, “Schwachgläubige”, “Schwachheit”) found in Luther’s works, St. Louis ed., XXIII, 1645 ff.]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -   continued in Part 3   - - - - - - - - - - - -
      So much from this installment sticks in my mind, for example Luther's curse on any love that overruns doctrine.  But also especially the deceptiveness used by “the weak to use their weakness as the source and norm of Christian doctrine”.  These weak teachers will especially want to use "love" as a wedge to relax on certain doctrines of the Christian faith.  I am reminded of the striking example of Dr. Carl S. Meyer as one of the greatest examples of users of this deception as he poured out his weakness of indifferentism in the 1956 meeting of the Synodical Conference – 25 years after Franz Pieper died.  He appealed to the protesting brethren (Wisconsin Synod, Ev. Lutheran Synod) on p. 15 (see this blog post):
Carl S. Meyer

“This unity is a unity in love...” - Dr. Carl S. Meyer

To Carl S. Meyer, Martin Luther's reply would be:
       “Cursed be your 'love'!”

In the next Part 3

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