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Monday, July 23, 2018

Piepkorn 3: “Lutherans only third”; “ambivalence”; “confessionalism”?; damnamus of Luther, Walther, Pieper and…

This continues from the previous Part 2 (& Part 1) where I defend against the most recognized name among Concordia Seminary's 40+ professors who were censured in 1973 – Arthur Carl Piepkorn († 1973).
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      Martin Luther condemned Duke George (as reported by Pastor C. J. Hermann Fick):
“Thus was fulfilled what he [Luther] had foretold: ‘I see that Duke George does not cease to persecute the Word of God, the preaching of that word, and the poor Lutherans …’”
I am one of those “poor Lutherans”. — In Philip James Secker’s essay at the CTS-FW 2009 “Annual Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions” p. 4, he proclaimed that (as also repeated by Prof. Erik Herrmann here at 16:32):
“Piepkorn’s most famous saying is: ‘We are Catholic Christians first, Western Catholics second, and Lutherans only third.
==>> I am one of Piepkorn's “third-rate Lutherans”.

“8th Wonder of the World”
This effrontery to Lutheranism that Arthur Carl Piepkorn plainly states is confirmed yet again in his writing in 1967 at the 450th anniversary of the Reformation where he refers to the annual celebration on October 31 of the same as (Plekon, Selected Writings, vol. 1 p. 89)
“the annual ambivalence with which a Lutheran theologian normally faces the last day of October.”
Ambivalence”?  And Piepkorn called himself a “Lutheran theologian”?  Maybe today's LC-MS should call October 31 their “Ambivalence Day” instead of “Reformation Day”, or maybe just... Halloween?

      Arthur Carl Piepkorn was officially ordered in 1973 to relinquish his post as a teacher at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. But then the seminary Board of Control wanted, by “honorably retiring” him, to soften this judgment.  It was reported (F. Danker, No Room In the Brotherhood, 1977, p. 179, Selected Writings, vol. 1pp. 300-301; confirmed here) that Piepkorn said:
It's an insult. They have no theological competence. How then can they retire me honorably? What does that say for my theology? I want to be retired dishonorably. — Arthur Carl Piepkorn 
      Piepkorn's followers will continue to justify Piepkorn by his so-called “confessionalism”.  But here is what Franz Pieper reports of C.F.W. Walther that will serve as an exact reply to the “confessionalism” of Arthur Carl Piepkorn (see here, Part 3b):
“Therefore Walther emphatically rejected the suggestion that only that is ‘Lutheran Church doctrine’ upon which our Church expresses herself in her Symbols.  No, every true Bible doctrine is Lutheran Church doctrine, even if it is not Lutheran Symbolical doctrine.”
As Martin Luther uttered his damnamus: “Damned is that love at the expense of doctrine”, so I say on the full authority of C.F.W. Walther:
Damned is that “confessionalism” at the expense of Holy Scripture!
      While working on this blog, I have also been translating C.F.W. Walther's much quoted 1886 “Foreword” to Lehre und Wehre and hope to publish it.  Walther lets loose on Germany's “scientific theologians” and blurts out a damnamus against them (p. 6German text):
Woe to him, who wants to be reckoned among the theologians and, on the contrary, thinks he must argue as such, above all, that science should remain fully free!
May Walther's condemnation now apply to... Arthur Carl Piepkorn. — I have not read of any LC-MS seminary teacher or Synod official publicly condemning the memory of Piepkorn.  And so on Walther's full authority, I will do it now. I will fulfill Arthur Carl Piepkorn's (reported) wish to be “retired dishonorably”...  I, as a “poor Lutheran”, as “only a third-rate Lutheran”, as a layman with “no theological competence”:
Piepkorn & Company destroyed the Christian faith of my youth!  He is to be charged with the “crimen laesae majestatis divinae”, because as Pieper elaborates “he actually repudiates and stands above God.” As Luther condemned the rage of Duke George against the “poor Lutherans”, so I do now the same for the rage of Arthur Carl Piepkorn
I, BackToLuther, 
a son of the Missouri Synod, 
all Christian memory of
Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

May he be remembered with revulsion!  — In Walther's essay is quoted a letter of Martin Luther that apparently has not been published in English translation.  And so I now will add one more post to my series on Arthur Carl Piepkorn, to “retire” him with my translation of this important letter... in the concluding Part 4.   (Part 1, Part 2)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Piepkorn 2: new “Archway” title?; Kolb's reverence

      This concludes from the previous Part 1 where I defend against the most recognized name among Concordia Seminary's 40+ professors who were censured in 1973 - Arthur Carl Piepkorn.
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      In 1893, the Presbyterians “defrocked and excommunicated (expelled)Prof. Charles Augustus Briggs from the Presbyterian church.  But in 1973 the LC-MS only wanted to remove Arthur Carl Piepkorn from his teaching post and would not excommunicate him. According to a report (p. 1; also here) in Piepkorn's “biography”, the LC-MS even wanted to grant him an “honorary retirement” instead of a reprimand.

Today's LC-MS teachers and administrators are surely ready to make the following change to a prominent part of Concordia Seminary's structure in St. Louis:
Sadly, I am afraid this may indeed by true.

There seems to be no end to the appalling disregard for the Divinity of Holy Scripture in... today's LC-MS.  In his 1886 Foreword to Lehre und Wehre, p. 5-6, C.F.W. Walther lamented the appalling situation in Germany, that almost all of their theologians defended not the divinity but the “divine-human” nature of Holy Scripture (translation is mine):

Only this gives its sad special meaning, that this doctrine for the laity of the world has been presented by men who have hitherto been regarded by the lay people as believing, even orthodox and confessional theologians, indeed, men who, in this time of unbelief, still stand before the breach and make themselves as a wall against the infiltration of unbelief into the church. So the question of inspiration, which was already a burning one, has become the most burning question of our time. ... This is the deepest reason for the ever more complete apostasy of modern theology from the revealed divine truth and the complete transformation of the Christian religion into a human science.
Arthur Carl Piepkorn, in his October 1961 CTM essay “Walther and the Lutheran Symbols”, attempted to place the mediating German theologians as equals of Walther.  But Walther's description above of almost all of Germany's theologians perfectly describes Piepkorn himself and almost all of the theologians of... today's Lutheran Church-“Missouri Synod” – with very few exceptions.

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind about the reverence in today's LC-MS for Arthur Carl Piepkorn, those doubts may be wiped out after reading from the highly regarded and published Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb and his “Foreword” to Philip J. Secker's 2007 book The Sacred Scriptures and The Lutheran Confessions: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn:
  • pg ix: Piepkorn “...contributed significantly to the post-Vatican II ecumenical Spring,  in which Lutherans and Roman Catholics had gotten to know and understand each other better than at perhaps any time since the Reformation.”
  • pg ix: “…the integrity of his confession of the faith, and because of his sheer intellectual prowess. He combined breadth of knowledge in a number of fields with depth of knowledge in most of them to an extent that I have encountered in few other people.”
  • pg x: “…his astounding scholarly competence that fascinated and impressed me. He simply knew so much, and he knew how to bring it all together. He not only commanded information; he modeled for us what a person could do with information. He taught us something about thinking! He embodied Christian intellectual discipline. He personified the meeting of Jerusalem and Athens.” 
  • pg xiii: “Piepkorn’s summary, [in a 1954 CTM essay] which closed his lecture a half century ago remains a foundation for the on-going discussion of the source and fountain for all proclamation of God’s Word”.
  • pg xiv: “although he counseled against using the term ‘inerrancy,’ he warned against any denial of Biblical iner­rancy.”
According to Dr. Robert Kolb (p. xiv), Arthur Carl Piepkorn on Inspiration
“put the entire matter into its functional context within the entire body of public teaching”.
This bit of Dr. Kolb's judgment is explained by his apparent agreement with Piepkorn to counsel Lutheranism “against using the term ‘inerrancy’” while at the same time warning “against any denial of Biblical iner­rancy”.  What is clearly stated by this is that Piepkorn, and Kolb, do not not say that their teachers are to teach and defend inerrancy.  They are to “put the entire matter into its functional context within the entire body of public teaching” and not use the term “inerrancy”. (What fools do Piepkorn and Dr. Robert Kolb take their followers to be!?) —  How sad that Concordia Publishing House uses a comment by Dr. Robert Kolb (“A figure who dare not be ignored.”) to “promote” their Walther's Works series.

I continue this brief series on Piepkorn in the next Part 3...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pilate & Piepkorn: Truth? Inerrancy?: Crime against God's majesty (Part 1)

     Earlier in Part 3 of my series on "Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian", Ludwig Fuerbringer reported that Dr. Franz Pieper
“would not be tired of reproaching modern theology, ... with their apostasy from this supreme principle of theology, from the divinely inspired and therefore inerrant Scripture”.
Then in the last installment, Part 5, we heard Pieper's ultimate charge against those who deny the full divinity of the Holy Scripture, a charge of a
crime against the divine majesty.  
Of the approximate 40 theologians who publicly, (Faithful, p. 41), repeatedly (1972 CTM “Editorial: A Declaration of Protest and Confession”) protested their right for a “freedom” to use the “historical critical method” to interpret (and overturn) Holy Scriptures, there are many who deserve “honorable mention”.  But there is particularly one who is still greatly honored in today's LC-MS, among its prominent teachers.  That “award” clearly goes to…
Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

You can read about it in their books. Prof. Charles Arand, in his 1995 book Testing the Boundaries pp. 208-232, repeatedly reports on Piepkorn's teachings yet never once defends against them.  He then (p. 265) strongly implies that, along with ELCA theologians, the LC-MS should “promote an evangelical-catholicism, traceable back to Piepkorn, as our best hope for the future.”  That J. A. O. Preus II encouraged this book (p. 11) is quite saddening.

You can hear about it in their 2010 video lectures (Prof. Erik Herrmann, 14:00 - 24:04: “05b. ‘A Very Different Understanding of What Lutheran Is’: 1969 Part 2).  Herrmann essentially exonerates Piepkorn from the errors of the other faculty members.

I have come across no teacher in the LC-MS since 1974 who has publicly reprimanded the teaching of... Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

So I, BackToLuther, as a son of the LC-MS who lost his Christian faith in large part because of the theology behind the “historical critical method”, behind Piepkorn's so-called “confessionalism” (but by God's grace was brought back to the faith), will do so now:
“What Is Truth?”
Pontius Pilate
Arthur Carl Piepkorn, LC–MS theologian
John 18:38

Prof. Arthur Carl Piepkorn’s article title is a question and it was meant in exactly the same way that Pontius Pilate meant his question.  Neither of them was asking the question – they meant it as a rhetorical question, or as Wikipedia explains it:
“A figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.”
There are no scholarly arguments that could convince me otherwise. Piepkorn's real intent, as boldly communicated in just the title of his CTM essay above, is to question the truth of the Holy Scriptures.  This is confirmed in Piepkorn's “I Believe” “confession” in the 1972 Concordia Seminary faculty “majority” publication Faithful to Our Calling, Faithful to Our Lord, Part II, pp. 112-113, where he essentially affirms what the old Iowa Synod taught as “Open Questions”. And I, a son of the LC-MS, fell from my Christian faith over this... apostasy.

This blog grew to be too long for one post, and so it will be continued in the next Part 2. (Part 3, Part 4)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pieper as Theologian-5: The Church authority on Bible's Authority

      This continues from Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series presenting the full essay “Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian” by President Ludwig Fuerbringer. — In this portion, Pieper elaborates on “rule of faith” or the “Analogy of Faith”, the clarity of Scripture, and the reality for those who deny the authority of Holy Scripture. Pieper's message never wavered whether it was in front of Walther while he lived or in 1892, or in 1899 or in 1906 or in 1922 or... in 1932 in what became the Brief Statement.
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Translation by BackToLuther. Original publication in CTM, vol. 2, October, 1931 (Part 1, p. 721-729); underlining follows original emphasis, comments in [ ] brackets, and all hyperlinks and highlighting are mine.

Dr. F. Pieper as Theologian.
by Prof. Ludwig Fuerbringer
(Part 5, cont'd from Part 4)

“Holy Scripture, like every other writing, is to be interpreted or not interpreted only by itself.
“When we say that Scripture is interpreted according to faith (according to the analogy of faith), so we thereby mean it to be, as with the proper teachers, nothing other than that Scripture is limited only by itself, namely, dark passages of Scripture are only to be explained by the clear passages of the same Scripture. Interpretation of Scripture in accordance with a norm that is not Scripture itself (tradition, consensus of the Church, “spirit,” “enlightened reason,” “whole of Scripture,” etc.) is not interpretation, but criticism of Scripture. [Page 728]
“The objection, that it is not possible to decide with certainty which Scriptural passages are clear, is to be answered: Clarity is always its own proof, or: Scripture passages themselves work the conviction that they are clear, by their clarity.  Clearly, with regard to the individual doctrines, the passages in which these teachings are revealed (sedes doctrinae) are not the places in which they are not revealed. Those who want to explain clear Scripture passages through other passages of Scripture, mock the Scriptures and throw the whole Scripture into an “uncertain pile”. (Luther.)
“Church history teaches that the false teachers of all times interpreted clear passages of Scripture as obscure, pointing to their heads, and in order to deceive others and themselves, invoked the “analogy of faith.”
“The fact that Scripture is interpreted only by Scripture and does not correspond to one’s own thoughts is a grace that continually is sought of God, and is given to the broken hearts which renounce all their own wisdom in divine things and submit their sense of Scripture in humble faith”. (52, 481 f.)
And finally, Pieper always came back to the last, all-important question, the reason of certainty, the certainty of truth. Then he published his excellent inaugural speech of 1899: “How Does a Teacher of the Church Obtain the True Assurance of Christian Doctrine?” (46, 161); German tite) and at other times raises the question: “Why Do We Believe the Scriptures?” or: “How does the Holy Scripture Become a Divine Authority?” (68, 161; German title). And his answer to this all-surpassing certainty question is this:
“By the divine authority of the Holy Scripture we understand the quality or nature of Scripture, according to which it bids faith and obedience to everything it says, as to God himself.
Whoever attacks the authority of Scripture commits a crime against the Divine majesty, a crimen laesae majestatis divinae, because he actually repudiates and stands above God. As Scripture proof of this belongs all Scripture passages in which the Word of Scripture and the Word of God are identified ....
And this divine authority of Scripture is an absolute. It is an absolute in the sense that it belongs to Scripture for its own sake, because it is God’s Word through inspiration. Not because the authority is based on the testimony given by individuals or even the whole Church to Scripture, which the ancient Lutheran theologians express briefly rightly so: The Scripture is  αύτόπιστος [autopistos, credible in itself], that is, it is entitled to faith and obedience for its own sake, because it is θεόπνευστος, given by God. [2 Tim. 3:16 = “God-breathed” or “God-inspired”] [Page 729]
The divine authority of Scripture is denied by Rome by asserting that Scripture has divine authority only through the witness of the Church. The fact that the Scripture accords for its own sake with faith and obedience, is denied  moreover by the Enthusiasts of all times, which concede the Scripture as divine authority only insofar as the Scripture is voiced with the alleged immediate spiritual revelation.  The same critical position on Scripture is finally adopted by all the later theologians, who deny the inspiration of the Scriptures, who want to decide about truth and error in Scripture according to their “faith-consciousness,” “experience,”  etc. They therefore speak also with the Enthusiasts of “bondage to letters,” a “paper pope” etc. if they are expected to recognize the Holy Scriptures as inviolable [unverbrüchliche; unbreakable, John 10:35] divine authority. [orancient believing text-worshipers”; ref. McLaughlin's essay]
Now, however, the question arises as to how the divinity of Scripture is recognized by us human beings or, what is the same, how Scripture becomes divine authority for us humans. In answering this question, we have to choose between Christian certainty (certainty of faith, fides divina) and human conviction (natural certainty, scientific certainty, fides humana).  That this distinction is both scripturally necessary, and practically very important, will result from the following account.” (68, 161 ff.)
So we could continue and portray Dr. Pieper’s doctrine of Holy Scripture in all its parts and with its own words prove it correct.     L. Fuerbringer.

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This is the end of Fuerbringer's first portion dealing with “sola Scriptura”.  As I finished translating this, I wrote down the following question that I would have posed to Ludwig:
“Did you not teach sola Scriptura to your son, Alfred O. Fuerbringer, who also became President of Concordia Seminary?”
      But before I continue with the next portion in this series, I want to apply Pieper's major point about the “crime against the Divine majesty”. There is legal term today similar to the Latin term used by Pieper: “Lèse-majesté” – a crime “against the dignity of a reigning sovereign”, sometimes referred to as “Treason”.  Pieper uses this strong term for those who deny the full divinity to Holy Scripture.    As I was translating Pieper's sentence and pondering the loss of my Christian faith 45+ years ago, one LC-MS theologian's name in particular came to my mind. Pieper's criminal charge can be applied properly to one of the most recognized names in Lutheran theology of the last 75 years and one of the most destructive teachers in Christendom of the 20th Century.  Who would that be? Find out in the next post. —  Then in the following Part 6, Fuerbringer begins his next portion dealing with great teaching that Pieper is to be known for – sola gratia.