Archive for October 13th, 2010

Below is a quote from Francis Pieper (1852-1931), a theologian of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He wrote the multi-volume Christian Dogmatics  which is used in LCMS seminaries.  Now this is not an easy quote to read, considering it includes Latin phrases but they are all translated!  We talk  a lot  in our day and time about “feelings”:   just consider how many discussions include sentences beginning with, “I feel…”   So much of Christianity is about feelings and not the Divine Fact.   And then we turn in upon ourselves.  This is  harmful to a sturdy Faith in the Lord Who has come to us.  Dr. Pieper did  a fine job of explaining it:

 This is done whenever they base the certainty of grace, or of the forgiveness of sin, on their feeling of grace or the gratia infusa [infused grace], instead of on God’s promise in the objective means of grace. All of us are by nature “enthusiasts.” Instead of listening to and believing God’s declarations of love in the Gospel, in the means of grace given by Him, or, in other words, instead of fixing our gaze on God’s reconciled heart which—thanks be to God!—is a present reality through Christ and is revealed and offered to us by God in the Gospel and the Sacraments, we look into our own heart and seek to gauge God’s feelings toward us by the thoughts and moods we find in our heart. But that amounts to a practical denial of the fact that God has reconciled us to Him through Jesus Christ, and hence to a practical denial of the means of grace, in which God acquaints us with this completed reconciliation.

“This feature of our Christian life must occupy us as long as we live. Christianity is an absolutely unique religion. It completely transcends human horizon and our inborn conception of religion. Native to us is the opinio legis [the opinion of the law], the religion of the Law. When we observe virtue in ourselves, we regard God as gracious. When we discover sin in us and our conscience condemns us because of it, we fear that God is minded to reject us. But the Christian religion teaches that God is gracious for Christ’s sake “without the deeds of the Law,” hence without regard to our keeping or transgressing of His Law. The righteousness that avails before God lies outside ourselves (Triglotta 935, F. C., Sol. Decl., III, 55). It is the acquired righteousness of Christ; in other words, the forgiveness of sins, which God pledges to us for Christ’s sake in the means of grace. Therefore our spiritual life is lived on the right basis and in agreement with the unique character of the Christian religion only when we—to express it in the words of Luther—“soar above ourselves” and base our faith in God’s grace on the means of grace lying outside us, the Word of the Gospel and its seals, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

“The gratia infusa—in its good sense as true Christian sanctification, or holy living—is, of course, also intended to be a signum et testimonium [a sign and testimony] of divine grace (Trigl. 199, Apol., III, 154 f.). But the gratia infusa is always imperfect. It does not stand the test before man’s conscience or the revealed Law of God. Our practice therefore must remain as Luther describes it: “There is no good counsel other than to disregard your own feelings and all human solace and to rely only on His Word” (St.L. XI:455).”

Francis Pieper, vol. 3, Christian Dogmatics, electronic ed., 131-32 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999

Dr. Pieper Quote

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