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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Copernicanism- 1993 LCMS; and a true Bible teacher? Part 2 (for “Josh”)

      This concludes from Part 1, republishing the most extensive essay on Copernicanism in the recent history of  the LC-MS.
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      While studying Dr. Patrick T. Ferry's essay in detail, it occurred to me that I actually had read it in the 1990s, but was so distressed by it, that I blotted it out of my mind.  I was then returning to my Christian faith, a faith in the Bible, reading Luther, etc.  But here was a great scholar who seemed to be using his great knowledge to confuse what Martin Luther actually taught. Then in 2001, I ran across C.F.W. Walther's very short, very bold statement about Copernicus and Copernicanism, and I was "hooked".  I knew “the sun stood still” (as Joshua commanded Joshua 10:13) and so an unbelieving world was at war with the Bible. But how could I stand against a world of theological scholars?

      Author Ferry makes no mention of the later teachers of the Lutheran Church, and others, who taught against Copernicanism:
Some might say that my list is unfair to Dr. Ferry because he only focused on one aspect of this topic: Luther’s (and the “University of Wittenberg”) actual response to the new learning and his influence on learning in general.  To that I would ask them if they think Ferry intended to remain neutral in his presentation as to whether Copernicanism was objective truth or not? Does anyone, after reading Ferry's essay, really think that Dr. Ferry believes that Copernicanism is not true?... that the reality is that the Sun moves about the Earth?
      One way that one might summarize Ferry's essay would be its use of the words (conjunctions) "however", "but", "nevertheless", "contrary to", and "yet".  These are the connecting words from his (grudging?) admission of Luther's and Melanchthon's Scriptural rejection of Copernicanism.  I recall now from 20+ years ago how every one of those conjunctions was like an arrow directed at my weak faith that wanted to believe the Bible – like my young LC-MS correspondent "Josh" does.
“... shaping an intellectual milleu” (Ferry, p. 266)
… or Christians?
      Make no mistake, author Ferry wants to be taken not on scientific grounds, but theological grounds. He wrote for a theological journal. He now heads a “Lutheran” university. But he voices no Scriptural grounds to reject Copernicanism … like Luther and Melanchthon do – Lutheran teachers who never explicitly renounced their Scriptural grounds.

A personal question for Dr. Ferry:
Did your father-in-law, Dr. John W. Saleska, also teach in his Concordia Bible Institute (and at CTS) as you do in this essay (p. 265), that 
“Contrary to the assumption that Luther and Melanchthon obstructed the spread of Copernicanism, each played a role in its eventual dissemination.”
... and so Martin Luther "shaped an intellectual milleu" that allowed not just a Copernican Theory, but Copernicanism?  Did Dr. Saleska make your essay required reading for his Concordia Bible Institute?  I wonder that he was not comfortable with your essay on Copernicanism judging by his firm stand for a "young earth" creation here. (Hmmm... does CUW also always teach the objective truth of creation in its science classes?)

      I will never forget the picture that Dr. Ferry shares of Dr. Saleska's highly marked and aged KJV Bible  (“the version used in heaven”!) as long as I live.  What a shock – to see an LC-MS teacher with such an obvious reverence for Holy Scripture!  Would that his son-in-law take up that Bible and run with it as his father-in-law did!

Wasn't Dr. John W. Saleska 
a “Biblicist”?
Wasn't he what A. D. White called an
ancient believing text-worshiper”?

Saleska's motto was “Christ in Every Word” (Concordia Bible Institute).  Does that include even in Joshua 10:13 – "and the sun stood still"? ... or not?

To “Josh”:
      I don't know if you are still following this blog, but I wonder that you may have been a graduate of CUW.  You came to me privately about 2 years ago and related, as I reported about you 2 years ago, that you …
“…were a member in the LC-MS, not long out of higher education, accepted the Copernican system, but considered yourself to be truly following Christian doctrine, was well aware of Luther’s position supporting geocentricity and the old Missouri’s anti-Copernicanism stand.  You had been taught in the LC-MS that it could be taught from Scripture that Scripture does not literally teach geocentrism.”
I then quoted you directly in my concluding blog and revealed further that you came to me and you asked me for counsel:
“Do you have any advice for me while I sort out these issues?”
I tell you now that whether or not you are a graduate of CUW, I suspect that the counsel of Dr. Saleska is as good as mine even if he may be weak in specifics on “Science and Religion”. I cannot boast of a Bible like his Bible, and he points to the Holy Bible as Truth, i.e. “Christ in every Word” (“I am the Truth…”, “Thy Word is Truth” – John 14:6, John 17:17).
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
      I want to conclude this blog with a tribute to the joy I found in learning of Dr. Ferry's father-in-law Dr. John Saleska and his Bible teaching:
Rev. Dr. John W. Saleska
A teacher of universal grace.
† September 13, 2017
If I had thought Dr. Saleska was the heart of the LC-MS, I might not have left the LCMS the 2nd time.  Buthis son-in-law's essay was no help for my struggling, weak faith in the 1990's. No, that took the teaching of Luther, Walther, and Franz Pieper to ground my faith 100% in the Bible.  I look forward to rejoicing with Saleska in the hereafter -- and seeing his heavenly smile in person.  Take a good look at the above picture, and see why he has the smile of a Christian on the right side.  That is a perfect picture of what everyone wants today…"mental health".

Monday, January 15, 2018

Copernicanism- 1993 LCMS (Patrick Ferry- 25 years ago); Part 1

Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry
President
Concordia Univ.–Wisconsin
      At the risk of over covering the issue of Copernicanism, I am addressing it once more.  This was occasioned by recently coming across an essay in Concordia Theological Quarterly, October 1993, that may be the greatest attempt by any teacher in the LC-MS to put the matter of "Copernicanism" to rest. This is the ONLY essay in CTS-FW Media under the labels "Astronomy-History" and "Copernicus, Nicolas, 1473-1543". The author was unfamiliar to me, but a little research quickly turned up that Patrick T. Ferry is now Rev. Dr. Patrick T. Ferry, President of Concordia University–Wisconsin since 1997. So Dr. Ferry can be considered a theological scholar for today, with a M.Div. from CTS-FW and a PhD in European History.
      One of the major benefits of using the following reproduction of Dr. Ferry's extensive essay is the addition of reciprocal hyperlinks to all footnotes for effortless navigation. The reader will notice that I have inserted many of my own comments in red text.  This is only because Ferry is quite a master scholar for today.  He knows many facts about the Reformation, he can translate from the old theological languages, he has an understanding of modern philosophy, he has read much from modern theology, etc.  But because he sets out essentially with the notion that Copernicanism is objective truth (since "science" has "proved" it so), so he must, as a "Lutheran scholar", try to accommodate "Wittenberg" with today's "Science".  And so, because this notion flies directly in the face of Holy Scripture, Ferry must be forcefully refuted.
      There is additional material covered by Dr. Ferry that was not covered in my blog series for "Josh". An example is Melanchthon's own writings specific to "Copernicanism", p. 279.  This was a case where Ferry's scholarly ability was actually helpful, even if he immediately works to accommodate Melanchthon's own testimony, as he does Luther's.
      It took me perhaps 20+ years to totally forget about this essay.  How happy I am to have completely refuted it even without directly addressing it in my Copernicanism blog series.  And so now, with a firmer faith and the immense help of Internet resources (Google Books, Google Translate, etc.) I can return to Ferry's essay in full confidence of not only the truth of Holy Scripture, but also in the knowledge that the true Evangelical Lutheran Church always held to the a priori truth of the Bible, even where the Bible clearly taught natural science incidentally.

A direct link to the above Google document is available here. Uncommented version here.

      I was amazed that I had not discovered this essay in my year-long research of this topic.  This is the only essay that I could find that addressed this "hot button" topic in any meaningful way in the LC-MS. I was also amazed that my blog series not only answered most of Ferry’s points, but went beyond it on the real issue of what is objective truth, something that Ferry only implies. This essay clearly intends that the reader consider Copernicanism or "heliocentrism" to be objective truth. Now Dr. Ferry may admit that he is in agreement with me that the Lutheran Church allowed theoretical science that was objectively impossible.  But then again, he is in today’s Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a synod that has for many decades, without interruption by a so-called Walkout in 1974spearheaded the effort to accommodate the Bible to “Science” on this issue of Copernicanism.
      My comments grew to be too much for one blog post, so I am splitting it up into 2-parts.  In the next Part 2, I comment further on Dr. Ferry, but also on someone I discovered who was very close to him, but one who is actually an antidote to his essay.

("Josh" -- are you still listening?)

[2018-01-16: Comments have come in below with pertinent added documentation]

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Pres. Harrison confesses truth of 6-day Creation (“natural days”)

      What a joy for me this day, to run across President Matthew Harrison's Jan. 3, 2018 blog (Archived) that not only confirms and confesses the Biblical 6-day Creation teaching, but even more, that he upholds the truth of Holy Scripture as a basis for his faith.  Even as he left a little room for equivocation ("in my view"), God knows the tears of joy that filled my eyes.  How much different is this joy than my warning blog post of 1 year ago where I had to tell Harrison that his LC-MS was on the wrong path, that the right path was the "old paths", back to the truth of Holy Scripture, just as his predecessor Walther followed, and Franz Delitzsch commended in Walther but faltered on himself.
      Also, what a joy to read that one of my current followers on this blog added their commendation to Harrison's blog post.  There is no greater joy for me than to see both of these.
      As I read through the blog post quickly, it was immediately apparent, also by his heartfelt, humble prayer to God at the end, that Harrison is responding to recent publications and responses.  I also kept thinking that Harrison read my blog from November last year and in other places and is confirming my plea to the LC-MS.  But I must tell him that my prayer is that he did not read my blog, but that others within his LC-MS have woke him up to the reality of deadly, poisonous heterodoxy among the teachers of the LC-MS.

==>> Note to Ken Ham: Your mission to re-establish the truth of the 6-day Creation doctrine among Christians, also your recent mission to establish the clarity of Holy Scripture, is just an echo of what the Lutheran Church has taught from its beginning.

      May God bless Harrison's forthright confession of the Truth to His Glory!  May God answer Harrison's prayer of "God help us"!  I must tell him that God cannot help but answer that prayer!  I would suggest that he should amend his ending to add Luther's ending: Amen.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
      And so it is that I must answer Harrison's plea to be "kind to those who struggle with the issue".  Most certainly Luther was patient with those weak in faith, but to the teachers of the faith who erred, Luther was not "kind" but reproved them.  That was his Christian kindness.  Unfortunately there is much left to reprove in today's LC-MS.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hoenecke 5: Walther highlights; praise for Hönecke

       This concludes from Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series repristinating the praise of the fathers of the Synodical Conference, especially Adolf Hoenecke.
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      This last portion of the quote from Adolf Hoenecke shows especially why Franz Pieper called Hoenecke a “true theologian”.  Hoenecke sums up the greatest features of the theology of C.F.W. Walther:
Extract from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 1, pp. 206, 208-211; translation by BackToLuther, not  from Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 171 n230, 173-174. Bolding is mine.  
—————— (concluded from Part 4) —————— 
The Scripture was for Walther God's Word and nothing else.  He could not be shaken from the doctrine of Inspiration of the old-church. This is what Rohnert [Wilhelm Rohnert, 1837-1908] praises in him, that in the last decades he probably was the most emphatic one for the old dogmatic verbal inspiration. (Dogmatik der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, p. 105  [German text]) Walther held fast to the inspiration of the Scriptures, because he saw that if here one in the least way gave in, one would give up that Scripture alone is the source and norm of theology.

Open questions” are not recognized by Walther as the Iowa Synod does. It is not required that the symbolical books treat a doctrine to make it a doctrine of the church. The confessions make no new doctrines of the church, but only represent them.  Scripture is the decisive factor.  Therefore, the Bible's teaching is also the doctrine of the church, although it has not yet been dealt with in the symbols. (Lehre and Wehre 14, 133 ff.) Walther, however, highly esteemed the confessions. Everywhere he draws on them in his writings and, in addition, the statements of the true Lutheran teachers. But his theology is not, in the bad sense, a theology of repristination, as the modern theologians over in the old country label it; for with him it is not the old dogmaticians or the Symbols [Confessions] that tip the scales, but Holy Scripture. [see Hochstetter’s testimony]
As a Scripture theologian, he had no special doctrines which he has preferred to treat, but it has been the case that he was forced to treat a number of doctrines a great deal and worked through them vigorously:
the doctrines of the Church and Ministry over against the Buffalo Synod, the doctrines of Election and Conversion against the Ohio and Iowa Synods, the doctrine of justification and reconciliation against the Erlangen theology and sectarianism of this land.”
= = = = = =  End of quote from Hoenecke  = = = = = = =

      In Hoenecke's itemization of all the distinguishing teachings of Walther, I was reminded of Franz Pieper's series of essays "C.F.W. Walther as Theologian".  I wonder that Hoenecke, to a certain extent, used Pieper's highlights from this series as he gave his own assessments.  So to help readers (like myself!) review again the corresponding highlights between Hoenecke's highlights above and Pieper's essays, here is a listing with hyperlinks:
       What is immediately apparent by the above listing is the agreement Hoenecke would have with the (old) Missouri Synod's Brief Statement of 1932.  But I could find only one reference to it in today's Wisconsin Synod's public “What We Believe” section – in the “Statement on the Antichrist”.  Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe that in past years, the WELS was much more frequent in citing the Brief Statement.
      What would Walther's counsel be for today's Wisconsin Synod?  It would be the same as to his own Missouri Synod in his 1860 Letter from Zurich (CTM  vol. 61; digitized text doc herep. 654-655):
“This principle [Rom. 12:6 ‘analogy or measure of faith’] is [not] properly made use of when everyone wants to find everything that is in the Bible by himself and does not want to accept, as a pupil, the mined treasures of Scriptural doctrine from those granted the gift of Scriptural interpretation in high measure.”
Walther would have in mind not only Martin Luther, but also the Lutheran dogmatists of Lutheran Orthodoxy, and... his fellow leader in the Synodical Conference, Adolf Hoenecke – not the later J.P. Koehler who would throw all the above out with his misuse of “exegesis”.
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      I conclude this series with Pieper's final assessment of his mentor Adolf Hoenecke:

In this account of Walther, 
Hönecke describes himself 
as a [true] theologian at the same time, 
as is apparent from the attached judgments.

                                                 — Dr. Franz Pieper

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hoenecke 4: Theology vs “theologizing”; new books, new “Lutheran tradition”

[2018-01-06: small addition in red below]
      This continues from Part 3 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series repristinating the praise of the fathers of the Synodical Conference, especially Adolf Hoenecke.
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      Now Prof. Hoenecke drives home not only how bad the theological conditions were "over there" in Germany, but also then highlights the strengths of the Evangelical Lutheran Church according to Luther's Reformation:
Extract from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 1, pp. 206, 208-211; translation by BackToLuther, not  from Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 171 n230, 173-174. Bolding is mine.  Green highlighted portions were not in the English versions, but were restored from the German and translated for the first time.
—————— (cont'd from Part 3) ——————
The only cognitive principle of theology for Walther is the Scriptures. What is not from Scripture does not belong in theology. “No less do we agree,” he writes, “therefore also with Johann Gerhard: the only principle of theology is the Word of God, therefore what is not revealed in God's Word is not theological.” He therefore rejected absolutely all theologizing on the basis of enlightened reason. (L. u. W. 21, 225 ff.) All such apologetics,” he says, “we hate with all our heart, for it presupposes that there is something more certain than the Word of God, from which more certainty one can by way of discursive thinking [see #2 here] derive the mysterious content of revelation.” (Lehre and Wehre 34, 326; see this blog post, search ‘With our whole heart’; ref. L. u. W. 21, pg 41; Editorials from Lehre und Wehre, p. 135] While the modem confessional theologians over there define theology as the “ecclesiastical science of Christianity
"habitus practicus"
(so Luthardt, Komp., S. 2, under “I. Begriff der Dogmatik”) and speak of their “family relationship to philosophy”, (so Öttingen, Dogmatik I, 411). Walther describes what is considered to be a primitive point of view in Oettingen, (Öttingen, Dogmatik I, 411) with Chemnitz and the other ancients as a habitus practicus. He says, ‘The purpose of the ministry is also the purpose of theology. But this is true faith, the knowledge of the truth of godliness, and finally eternal life.’ (Lehre and Wehre, 14, 73; German text)

A theologian, according to Walther, becomes one only through the Holy Spirit out of the Word of God. A true theologian is only one who is born again by the Spirit through the Word. In his edition of Baier (vol. I, p. 69) [Lutherus – text]  he mentions Luther's words: “A doctor of Holy Scripture cannot be made by anybody, but only by the Holy Spirit from heaven, as Christ says, John 6:45.” From the Word – the theologian, and what he works with, is again the Word.
- - - - - - -  Continued in Part 5  - - - - - - -

      I have to keep reminding myself at times while reading the above that it is not just from Walther himself, nor is it from Franz Pieper, rather it is from… Adolf Hoenecke, father of the Wisconsin Synod.

Dogmatics / Systematics textbooks of today   
      Before I proceed, I have discovered with joy that Concordia Publishing House (CPH) has now introduced a new version of the Index (old volume 4) to Pieper's Christian Dogmatics in a “Print on Demand” format (probably paperback).  I have updated my previous blog post notice announcing the demise of this Index.  Although this is welcome news, one wonders that CPH will convert the entire series to this format.  After all, they have now replaced it with something new…  and we see an application for what Hoenecke teaches above.  

       So, what's new?  This...

<<<<============
      CPH has recently released a book series to replace Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, entitled Confessing the Gospel: A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology, a 2 Volume Set.   

They would be pleased to have also the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) replace Hoenecke's  Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics (and ELS) so that they too would be “modern”. 

      One does not have to purchase CPH's “new improved” dogmatics (or systematics) book to evaluate it, for the extensive “Look Inside” file provides ample material for this.  I may publish a more extensive word usage study in the future, but I would invite the reader to do a word search using “Lutheran tradition” in the “Look Inside” file.  Go ahead, I'll wait …………

What did you find?  I found 7 instances where the writer(s) used this term, just in this “Look Inside” excerpt.  By comparison, Franz Pieper never used this “Lutheran tradition” term in his Christian Dogmatics books, neither did Walther in his writings, neither do the Lutheran Confessions or the Lutheran dogmatists, also not in Hoenecke's Ev.-Luth. Dogmatics.  And what does a Google search return as a meaning of “tradition”?:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - Google search for “tradition meaning” - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
tra·di·tion
trəˈdiSH(ə)n/
noun




  1. 2.
    THEOLOGY
    a doctrine believed to have divine authority though not in the scriptures, in particular.
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      So Google's short answer indicates that the LC–MS teachers’ identification with the term “Lutheran tradition” clearly shows that they have established their “Lutheran theology” as NOT Scriptural, but their “divine authority” is rather “tradition”.  So...
The LC–MS “Lutheran tradition” is not based on Holy Scripture.
Their own terminology proves it.  (There are many other terms that can be used to show this... too many for this blog post.) —  In the next Part 5

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hoenecke 3: his training; his praise of Walther

[2017-12-30: added note at bottom]
      This continues from Part 2 (Table of Contents in Part 1), a series repristinating the praise of the fathers of the Synodical Conference, especially Adolf Hoenecke.
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      Now Pieper continues with his own assessment of Hoenecke in relation to Walther, starting off with a BANG! ... making a statement that irritates almost all of today's church historians.  Then, after more biographical details, we hear the words of Hoenecke himself on… C.F.W. Walther.
Extract from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, vol. 1, pp. 206, 208-211; translation by BackToLuther, not  from Christian Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 171 n230, 173-174. Bolding is mine.  Green highlighted portions were not in the English versions, were restored from the German and translated for the first time.
—————— (cont'd from Part 2) ——————
We find no doctrinal difference between Walther and Hönecke, wherein we rightly see again a testimony of the unifying power of the Word of God. Like the fathers of the Missouri Synod among themselves, Walther and Hönecke were strongly distinct and different characters. They also came from different ecclesiastical backgrounds.

Hönecke studied theology in Halle under Hupfeld, Julius Müller and Tholuck, at a time when in Halle the rule of rationalism was already broken. Hönecke says in his dogmatics of Tholuck: “Tholuck has pointed the way of life to many of his students, but he was grudging toward them if they went on stricter confessional paths as the author of this dogmatics, but he always adored him as a man. He had much to be thankful for.” Hönecke came to the United States in 1863, twenty-four years after the immigration of the Saxons, as ambassador of the Berlin Missionary Society, in order to work in the church care of immigrant Germans. He became a member of the Wisconsin Synod and soon her theological leader, as already reported by Prof. Schaller's words above.


It is probably appropriate here to point out that Hönecke in his Dogmatik (I, 320 ff. [pp. 320-323; English ed. pp. 347-349]) also describes Walther as a theologian. In this account of Walther, Hönecke describes himself as a theologian at the same time, as is apparent from the attached judgments. He says about Walther:
“Carl F. W. Walther was a Scripture theologian. [Cf. the article Walther als Theologe by Dr. Francis Pieper in Lehre und Wehre, 34, 5 ff – sic! Page # incorrect in Hoenecke’s original book, p. 97 passim or see this blog post for reference, esp. here, Part 3..]
What Kattenbusch,[* see note below] the follower of Ritschl, (Von Schleiermacher zu Ritschl, p. 3) points out as Walther's weakness, that he once again set the watchword for dogmatics: “Only loci!” since it is the signature of revelation that we learn only unconnected pieces from God’s mysteries, that must be credited as praise for Walther. He thereby joins the ranks of genuine Lutheran theologians, while the so-called ‘confessional’ theologians over there, as they seek actual systems, are under the influence of Schleiermacher (pic), as Kattenbusch also explains. Creating systems to harmonize seemingly contradictory doctrines is, according to Walther, not the task of the theologian. On the contrary, he considers all building of systems to be harmful and not gain in theology; it does not bring deepening but only dissolution of the doctrines. He agrees with the words of Luther: “If it is to be harmonized, so shall we not keep one article of faith.” Just as little he considers the task of the theologian to be systematizing and harmonizing doctrines, so also what the moderns want so much, reconciling Scripture and Science, faith and knowledge. Thereby Scripture and faith must suffer according to him.
For all his respect for real science (Lehre and Wehre, Vol. 21, Foreword,), scientific theology in the sense of the moderns is something foreign to him.
Science should serve in theology only as a maid; if she wants to be more, she has to go out. It already corrupts Scripture theology when one means to help the written Word with scientific proof.

- - - - - - - -  (continued in Part 4)  - - - - - - - -
The Theologians of America

      When I first read Pieper's statement that the theology of Hoenecke and Walther was the same, I did not think much about it.  But after reading the onslaught of judgments by many historians to the contrary, this statement takes on major significance.  For Pieper shows a basis for his assertion from Hoenecke's own words which leaves all other judgments to the contrary suspect at best, deceptive at worst.  Here Pieper rubs our nose in Hoenecke's published exact words of highest praise for Walther's stand against a world of theologians going astray. 
      Hoenecke also adds his name to those defending against the encroachment of Science into theology.  We have seen in a previous blog how Prof. John Schaller followed Hoenecke's lead by defending against a “Science” that would lead Christians away from their faith.  And Hoenecke refers to Walther's great essay that later was translated into English under the title “Are We Guilty of Despising Scholarship?” in Selected Writings of C.F.W. Walther - Editorials from "Lehre Und Wehre", p. 122-142. (Lehre and Wehre, Vol. 21, Foreword, p. 1-13, 33-42, 65-80 (1875). (see also this blog)

      Here, Wisconsin Synod, here is the greatest tribute ever paid to the theology of your Hoenecke, by... Franz Pieper.  —  In the next Part 4
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[2017-12-30: A.C. Piepkorn makes use of the German theologian Kattenbusch in his essay "Walther and the Lutheran Symbols" (CTM, October 1961, vol. 10, p. 610; digital text here).  Piepkorn apparently agreed with Kattenbusch who attacked Lutheran Orthodoxy, thinking they stressed Holy Scripture too much over the Lutheran Confessions.]