Monday, February 17, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A16, "Theology and Certainty"

Chapter A16, “Theology and Certainty”

Pieper returns to the idea of certainty and subjectivism. If, as was common in the modern theology of his time, a theologian was to attain subjective certainty, Pieper questions where  that certainty could be found. Biblical doctrine asserts that we find assurance through Christ’s word. This is the way Luther also insisted we would find our assurance and comfort. Choosing to go beyond the Scripture leaves the modern theologian without a foundation of truth. The modern theologian depends on the Christian himself and his inner strength. Pieper views this as a futile pursuit, identifying it as not Christian, uncertain, and not scientific. He spends a good deal of time speaking to the uncertainty. In essence, when we are the mediator of our salvation by way of evaluating our inner state, we have no comfort outside of ourselves. Counter to this, Pieper describes a certainty which comes from relying on the promises of God, something that came from outside of ourselves. Further, the certainty we have is built on distinctive doctrine. Pieper points out that unionism in any form departs from the certainty based on pure Christian doctrine. We also find assurance through realization that God has spoken on many topics. There are very few “open questions” or “problems” in true theology. Finally, modern theology is not scientific, as it is based on individual opinion rather than on definitive truth. Pieper closes by asserting the certainty and confidence we can have based on historic doctrine.

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