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Friday, May 6, 2016

Francis Pieper - Good and Bad.
From 2010




Francis Pieper was chosen by Walther to carry the mantle
of the Great Prophet, the One Who Explains All.


I bought my set of Pieper around 1987 and studied all three volumes. Pieper was a good introduction to the Two Natures in Christ, although nothing quite like Chemnitz. I also studied Calvinism through the eyes of Pieper, after spending some time on the topic at Notre Dame in the PhD program, where my advisor was a Remonstrant, or Dutch Arminian.

One of the oddities of Upper Midwest Lutheran sects is their eagerness to jump on Luther citations as "worshiping Luther," while they clearly view any criticism of Pieper as blasphemy. No one subscribes to the Weimar edition of Luther, and no one subscribes to anything by Pieper. However, by default the old Syn Conference does have a quia subscription to the Brief Statement and what little they remember of the Dogmatics.

This nonsense cannot be reconciled with the Bible,
Luther, or the Book of Concord.
Jar Jar Webber eats it up and serves it raw.


Pieper Paradox
I struggled to understand how Lutherans could embrace the pox-riddled Church Growth Movement, so I turned to Pieper for more perspective. Here is the great paradox, which unfolds in the quotations below. Pieper could be very good in describing the Means of Grace in Lutheran doctrine and in showing how Calvinism is wrong. However, his advocacy of two justifications contradicts everything said on the the topic of the Holy Spirit working exclusively through the Means of Grace. To put it another way, he contradicts the topic of grace coming to us only through the Means of Grace.

The Pieper quotations address the schizophrenia of the Syn Conference. The ELS, LCMS, and WELS may say the right words about the Means of Grace (although muted and rare these days) but they promote the opposite view, a butchered version of Calvin, in their precious Universal Objective Justification.

Francis Pieper Quotations
"The starting point in presenting the doctrine of the means of grace must be the universal objective reconciliation or justification. This is the procedure of Scripture."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 105.

"We saw before that Scripture ascribes the forgiveness of sins without reservation to the Word of the Gospel, to Baptism, and to the Lord's Supper. Therefore all means of grace have the vis effectiva, the power to work and to strengthen faith." [Note: Augsburg Confession, V, XIII]
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 108f.

"Also the objection that there is no need of offering and confirming to Christians one and the same forgiveness of sins in several ways betrays an astonishing ignorance. Both Scripture and experience teach that men who feel the weight of their sins find nothing harder to believe than the forgiveness of their sins. Hence repetition of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins in various ways through the means of grace meets a practical need of Christians."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 114.

"Because saving grace is particular, according to the teaching of the Calvinists, there are no means of grace for that part of mankind to which the grace of God and the merit of Christ do not extend. On the contrary, for these people the means of grace are intended as means of condemnation. Calvin teaches expressly: 'For there is a universal call, through which, by the external preaching of the Word, God invites all, indiscriminately, to come to Him, even those for whom He intends it as a savor of death and an occasion of heavier condemnation' (Institutes, III, 24, 8)."
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 118f.

"But according to the teaching of Calvinism this 'inner illumination' is not brought about through the means of grace; it is worked immediately by the Holy Ghost. Modern Reformed, too, teach this very emphatically. Hodge, for example, says: 'In the work of regeneration all second causes are excluded....Nothing intervenes between the volition of the Spirit and the regeneration of the soul....The infusion of a new life into the soul is the immediate work of the Spirit....The truth (in the case of adults)[that is, the setting forth of the truth of the Gospel through the external Word] attends the work of regeneration, but is not the means by which it is effected." [Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, 634f.]
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 120.

Those who read Fuerbring will find he breathes the spirit of Luther.
He studied and used Luther all the time, and also focused on
Hebrew and Greek Biblical passages.
And - shhh - he was Walther's nephew and knew him well.