Friday, January 17, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A5, "The Cause of the Divisions Within Visible Christendom"

Chapter A5 “The Cause of the Divisions Within Visible Christendom”

Pieper uses this term, “visible Christendom,” to refer to church organizations. Why are there divisions in the one Church? It is not surprising to see them in the non-Christian world, which would often try different ways of winning favor with God. But the Church which trusts in the message of saving faith based on Scripture should be unified. Yet there were factions even in the apostolic period, growing because people rejected God’s word. Pieper introduces in brief the ways some Christians have strayed.

First, Roman Catholics, in their insistence that the sense of Scripture is only made clear through the Roman church effectively denies Scripture alone.

Second, Reformed theology makes Scripture subject to rationalistic ideals. In doing so, they separate baptism and communion from their efficacy. This leaves them, logically, with only the non-mediated work of the Holy Spirit on hearts, which becomes as important as Scripture. Again, the rationalistic lens denies that Jesus died for all.

Arminians, on the other hand, do not reject the universality of the atonement but do reject God’s working by grace alone. This also rejects Scripture.

In the end it is only the Lutherans who will allow both universal grace and grace alone to stand, allowing the relationship to be a mystery.

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