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Monday, May 7, 2018

Harrison's preface to Pieper: Unity in the Faith (LC-MS back-to-the-Bible?)

Pres. Matthew Harrison

      President Matthew Harrison is finding himself in some controversy within the LC-MS.  And there are some in that body who, after supporting him and his supposed stand to at least partially return the LC-MS back to its former strength, are now wondering that he is failing.  Especially the situation surrounding that of Prof. Jeffrey Kloha and his teaching that the Holy Bible is a "plastic text" would lead one to that conclusion.  And more recently, the controversy surrounding the 2017 Summer issue of the Concordia Journal is another indication.  The Bible seems not to be the book to believe by the teachers of the LC-MS.  Harrison now says in his current "Life Together" video (at the 0:28 mark), that "It's time that we get back to the Bible too", but should he not be telling the teachers of his Synod this instead of just the lay people in a video?
      So when I had occasion to review again in Harrison's book At Home in the House of My Fathers his preface to one of Franz Pieper's great convention essays, I had to marvel at the difference between his book published in 2011 and what is happening in his Synod.  I want to publish to the public exactly what Matthew Harrison said in 2011 about Franz Pieper (p. 571):

On Unity in the Faith
By Francis Pieper
Translated by Matthew C. Harrison
Professor Pieper presented this paper to a meeting of the Synodical Conference. It is classic Pieper: biblical, confessional, precise, careful, and thorough. It proceeds with the fundamental conviction that the Scriptures are clear on this matter. The issue of church fellowship is a topic that is extremely challenging for us in our postmodern world. But Pieper’s lecture demonstrates that the seeds of the postmodern idea that there finally is no unique truth” had already been sown in the nineteenth century. The matter was difficult for nineteenth-century Missouri, too. The early Missourians knew the Word of God and revered it. And they would suffer all before departing even a hair’s breadth from it. Today the mantra is that we must relax traditional Missouri Synod doctrine and practice on church fellowship in order to grow and cope with the postmodern world. Pieper sees the matter rather as a clear teaching of Scripture and the Confessions. The Missouri Synod was faithful to what it believed was the revealed truth of the Gospel. God granted the growth. Pieper quotes Walther: “There should be no whoring with the spirit of the times, no ogling at false doctrine, no respecting of persons. Our synod officers, however, our presidents, must continue not so much as protectors of human ordinances, but much more as men who watch over the purity of doctrine and knowledge.Finally, the matter of church fellowship is one of the proper care for souls. God grant us the conviction of Pieper: “We stand in a fellowship that firmly holds to the entire Word of God, the entire revelation, in which souls are correctly cared for, in which God is given the honor that is due Him. What a blessing to have become a part of this fellowship! We cannot sufficiently treasure this reality.”

Translated from “Von der Einigkeit im Glauben,” in Verhandlungen der zwoelften Versammlung der Evang.-luth. Synodalconferenz von Nord-Amerika zu Milwaukee, Wis., vom 8 bis 14 August 1888 (St. Louis: Luth. Concordia-Verlag [M. C. Barthel, Agent], 1888). This doctrinal essay was delivered by then 36-year-old Francis Pieper at a meeting of the Synodical Conference.M. H.
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Hmmm… all that praise of Franz Pieper, and yet the LC-MS is now replacing his masterful Christian Dogmatics?  I don't get it…
To: President Matthew Harrison

      As I read again your preface above to one of Franz Pieper's great convention essays, I was struck by how well you reported this writing of Pieper.  It appeared that you had not just glossed over it but had taken it to heart!  The third president of Concordia Seminary, Ludwig Fuerbringer, also marveled at it in his "Dr. F. Pieper als Theolog" essay in Concordia Theological Monthly, and I will be reporting on his comments soon.  Would it not be fair to suggest to you that you should return again to the "House of Your Fathers"?  Read your own preface again!  Then I would suggest that you publish your translation of Pieper's essay on your "Life Together" website.  Maybe it would be well if you change your slogan (and Bonhoeffer's) from "Life Together" to "Unity in the Faith"?
      For now, I will do my part and so have published the other translation by Ewald J. Otto on (German original here) Then your people can be instructed by one of the greatest Christian teachers of all time so that they can believe their Bible.  As you say (at the 0:28 mark), "It's time that we get back to the Bible too".

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