Friday, July 25, 2008

Derpriving Faith of Its Object

Francis Pieper on doctrine, from Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 70.

Depriving faith of its object, namely, the doctrine presented in Scripture, has, as Eduard Koenig said, fatal results: It destroys the Biblical concept of "believing" and does away with the Christian religion as a positive religion. Indeed, it is due to an astounding aberration of the human mind that men can assert that "doctrine" or the "communication of doctrine" is not a "prime" concern of the Christian religion; we cannot comprehend how they can claim in all seriousness that what is to be preached is not "doctrine," but "faith," arguing that only in this way "a living Christianity can be produced" and "dead orthodoxy," "intellectualism," warded off. The stubborn fact is that from its very beginning the Christian religion dealt with doctrine and the impartation of doctrine. The Word spoken in the very beginning about the Seed of the woman, who would crush the head of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15), what is it but doctrine? And the entire Old Testament was written, as the Apostle Paul assures us, for our learning, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέϱαν διδασκαλίαν (doctrine), Rom. 5:4, and is profitable πϱὸς διδασκαλίαν (doctrine), 2 Tim. 3:16. When in the fullness of the time the Son of God appeared in the flesh and walked here on earth, He engaged in teaching. He teaches from the ship (Luke 5:3), on the mount (Matt. 5:2), in the synagogs (Luke 4:15), went about the land teaching (Matt. 4:23). He also makes use of the forty days between His resurrection and ascension to teach (Acts 1:3), and before His ascension He gives His Church the commission to teach all nations to the Last Day: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20). And the Apostles executed this commission. Paul declared, taught, publicly and from house to house, all the counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27). Teaching the saving doctrine was his chief business, and he tells his successors in the ministry that it must be their chief business. He bids Timothy and Titus to hold fast the form of sound words, the doctrine, which they had heard from him (2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 1:9; 2 Tim. 2:2) and requires of the bishop that he should be apt to teach, διδακτικός (1 Tim. 3:2). Teachers should know that Scripture is given first of all "for doctrine" (2 Tim. 3:16). The members of the congregations, too, are bidden, like the teachers, to continue in the doctrine and to apply the doctrine to one another. Col. 3:16: "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another." 2 Thess. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our Epistle." It is said in praise of the Christians at Jerusalem that they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine, διδαχη (Acts 2:42); and the Apostle John deems the adherence to the doctrine of Christ of such great importance that he instructs the churches to deny Christian fellowship to all who do not bring the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11). When in spite of all this modern theologians insist that Holy Scripture must not be regarded as "doctrine" nor received as a "manual" of the Christian religion, it is evident that their conception of the Christian religion is diametrically opposed to that of Christ and His Apostles and Prophets.

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