Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pieper on Apologetics

“The Christian apologist is in a position to show any rational man, particularly if he have a well-trained mind, that after all it would appear more reasonable to accept the claims of Christianity as true than to reject them as false.” (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol.1 pg. 110.)
I had the pleasure and joy of being trained in apologetics in undergrad. Dr. Rosenbladt became much more than another Prof. but a mentor and a friend. What he taught has served me invaluably in the ministry. I still go back to the apologetic books he recommended in class, most especially I read “History and Christianity” by John Warwick Montgomery, once a year, minimum.
Unfortunately, not many in our circles have listened to what these men have to say in regards to apologetics. In the Missouri Synod apologetics has a bad name. Reliance on it is considered tantamount to unbelief. Those who study it are told they don’t trust the Gospel. We have the meaning to the third article of the creed quoted to us, and told you can’t rely on apologetics and be confessional. Funny, how they always seem to not read the first article of the creed, where reason is considered, not the devil’s whore, but a gift from God.
Along with this is a myth that apologetics are un-Lutheran, that the Lutheran Fathers never used apologetics. Somehow the endeavor of apologetics have been handed over to the reformed, and often betrays a shallowness that goes along with that theological position. This further complicates the problem at hand. There are precious few apologetic texts available to the confessional Lutheran, that do not actually betray Confessional Lutheranism.
This myth can be seen, for instance in the forward to “Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon.” This is actually a work of apologetics. But the whole forward is spent apologizing for delving into apologetics, and explaining that apologetics don’t work, shouldn’t be tried, and are at odds with Lutheranism!
Well for those of you who hold that position. Tell it to Pieper! Amazing I used to think Pieper might be to blame for the low view of apologetics in the Missouri Synod, after all he is the LCMS’s theological God father. Yet after reading this, I have had to revisit that position. Now I think this might be nothing but a holdover from the Seminex days that delved into Neo-orthodoxy and Kantian paradigms.

7 comments:

Rev. Daniel Robert Skillman said...

Apologetics are truly important. We share a similar passion.

Additionally, our interest in Mormonism overlaps, too.

I'd love to talk with you more on these subjects.

Bror Erickson said...

Dan,
We should talk. Give me a call at the church sometime.
I do remember you writing your senior paper on Mormonism. Thought it ironic at the time that I was the one sent to Utah. That is if you are the same Daniel Skillman I am thinking of. But I think I remember that guy going to Ohio, so how he could have a compurter with internet access is beyond me.

Brigitte said...

I spoke this week with Rev. Dr. Jonathan Strand (we're on a committee). He teaches Philosophy at Concordia College, Edmonton. He shares your views, as well. I encouraged him to leave you a note.

Jarod said...

Thanks for that quotation from Pieper. I agree with your points about the importance of apologetics. Aside from Pieper, I think anyone familiar with Luther would also understand the importance of apologetics. For all his "denouncing" of reason, Luther praises it in other contexts; insofar as it is not being placed above Scripture.

Of course he knew his Aristotle in order to reject the misuse of him--he translated him into German and I believe he taught him as well. He even wanted Aristotle's logic in the university. I suspect that the same would go for Chemnitz, Pieper, and any of the major Lutheran theologians. I also think that one would have to ignore Paul's preaching in Athens (Acts 17) and Peter's encouragement to give an "apologia" in 1 Peter 3.

Bror Erickson said...

Jarod,
Welcome To the blog,
You are more than welcome for the quote. If you are at sem. and care for grades, I don't know that I recommend using it in a paper.

Bror Erickson said...

Brigitte,
I think you might be developing a bit of fame for me in Canada. Well thanks.

Anonymous said...

If faith is created in us by God through the Holy scriptures and the sacriments what good is the Kalam? I simply don't see the use given lutheranism in evangelizing the lost! We don't make an intellectual decision for Christ. He chooses us. So please explain why in the world of you believe that you would be an apologist?!?