Friday, August 28, 2009

Pieper on Doctrinal Indifference

“The Truth that Christ is the real Teacher in the Church is of great practical importance. It earnestly warns men against teaching their own word in the church. They that presume to do so are encroaching on the prophetic (and Royal) office of Christ, who will have only His Word proclaimed in the Church. Every False doctrine is lese majesty. Not only the Papists, but all who teach “without, or contrary to, God’s Word” are rebelling against Christ. They are antichrists, 1 John 2:18. The modern indifference towards heresy is criminal.” (Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. II pg. 341)
One could easily comment on the ELCA’s most recent laps of doctrinal judgment in relation to this. But I don’t much want to as most Christians can see the problem there. What gets me is that most are just as guilty in other areas. The other day I had a conversation with a Baptist minister who complained of being forgetful since he turned 21. I told him he shouldn’t drink so much then. He replied it is only once a month, and then it is grape juice. At which point I told him he really didn’t want to go there as it would turn this cordial conversation ugly fast. At that point he told me “I don’t have a problem with wine at Holy Communion, but the people would be scandalized so I don’t do it.” This is doctrinal indifference at its peak. These Baptists and Evangelicals want to rage about inerrancy, and inspiration, yet they don’t give a rodent’s behind what the Bible actually says. Don’t have a problem using the elements Christ used to institute his last will and Testament? Really! You don’t have a problem with us who follow Christ’s word. I’m supposed to be comforted because I have your approval for doing so?
I’ll tell you what I have a problem with using Grape Juice. I have a problem messing with any one’s last will and Testament, but I have a serious problem with people willy nilly hacking the Lord Jesus Christ’s last will and Testament and not giving two figs about it, being so luke warm as to tell me they don’t have a problem using wine either. As if Christ had never run into an alcoholic, or didn’t know about grape Juice. He could have used water if he wanted to. He didn’t he used wine, and meant to use wine. He means for us to use wine. This is lese majesty in the worst way. That is an affront to Christ. It is as Pieper says criminal that anyone who claims to believe in Christ, would be so presumptuous to dismiss Christ’s majesty in such a casual manner. At the bottom of all this you find that the fundamentalists in Baptist and Evangelical circles, and the Liberals of the ELCA have the same attitude towards scripture, neither could care less what it actually says. The only difference between the two is homophobia on behalf of the fundamentalists.


Rev. Daniel Robert Skillman said...

The recent moves of the ELCA sadden me for much the same reasons they anger you. Doctrinal indifference is a plague. And you are correct to note that it exists in "fundamentalist" camps, as well as "liberal" camps.

I do, however, find myself disagreeing with Pieper on several points, as I'm sure you do, too. For example, his position on the Lord's Supper ammounts to a type of receptionism. I'm going to guess that you, like me, have a problem with that.

So, here's the thing, we agree with Pieper that we should not be indifferent to doctrine. We agree that we should have the true doctrine, and in fact, do. Yet, we disagree with Pieper on a significant doctrinal issue.

How can we maintain a proper concern for doctrine, how can we maintain that we "have it right," while also recognizing that we all get it wrong in different places from time to time?

This question, in its many forms, by the way, is not a license for a church body to be indifferent to doctrine, although it has been used as such. It is part of a sincere attempt to avoid being indifferent to doctrine, while not losing sight of the fact that we don't always get "it" right.

Anonymous said...

BINGO Bror, having been a fundamentalist Pieper is spot on!

Also, having been an ex-atheist ALL the way on the outside of the church I naively NEVER thought the battle for the faith would be within its very own doors. When that first "hit me" a few years ago I just stood there flabbergasted by it all thinking, "Hell I was a rank atheist and defending biblical for the sake of argument more than many in the church were that I to speak".

A pastor friend of mine has said it many times that that which parades itself around as the church will do all it can do to throw down Christ and the Word of God, more so than secular society will.

To answer Rev. Daniel:

We do it this way we first accept that the worse position to be in is indifference because that fundamentally views the Word of God wrongly. Looking at it this way, in my ex-denomination many solid calvinistic baptist hold the line hard on baptism, believers baptism. They are of course wrong clearly. However, they are correct in knowing that the Word of God is not a clay nose that may be molded as pleased and that the Word of God is not confusing but rather clear. They in principle would agree with Pieper about the Word of God and would confess that any perceived confusion about the Word of God comes from our end not His. Thus they hold the line on believers baptism as the "truth", even though it is false. In doing so there is a clear black and white line in the sand between believers baptism and infant baptism. This allows a person looking into these things to examine them without confusion.

Contrawise to that are the more new types who are indifferent to the sacraments, either of believers baptism or of infant baptism and say "it doesn't matter", doctrinal indifference. The sum total of this makes the Word of God to appear to be like shifting sands and uncertain, and at the end of the day, this principle, indifference, does not allow one to examine doctrines because there is in reality "no doctrine" to examine save the ever changing principle doctrine a.k.a. in its secular form of "all truths are true" or its negative form "no truth is true".

Thus, it is better to be black and white, even black and white wrong than to have a whorish amalgamation of nothing is true. In this way one may see Islam clearly over here, the Pope clearly over there, believers baptism there and infant baptism here, etc... Otherwise the logical extension of doctrinal indifference is to know nothing whatsoever. Thus, the worse position is to make the Word of God mean anything or nothing, which are really two sides of the same coin. Better to confess "Lord Your Word is rock solid and never changing and I got this and that part wrong forgive me." Than to say, "Lord your Word was so unclear I thought it best to just mix it up."

So we deal with it under principle number one being doctrinal indifference is the worse sin of all, then we can examine differences (getting it right or wrong). We cannot examine right and wrong differences when we in principle say, "It's all indifferent".

I'm a scientist, I cannot examine phenomena if I first say, non of nature has firm laws of nature.



Bror Erickson said...

You are right I would disagree with Pieper there. Though, I have a lot less a problem with receptionsim then I do with, say, denying the Body and Blood all together. Its one thing to believe that you could be wrong from time to time, and be open to correction when confronted with scripture and clear reason. It is another to not care at all, whether you are right or wrong. Or to believe you "can't be right" all the time. Actually I do believe when it comes to doctrine it is possible to be right on every issue, being led by the Holy Spirit and all. That maybe you haven't been right in the past is no reason to give up on wanting to be right.

Nancy said...

*: )