Friday, June 13, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter B15, “The Authority of Scripture and the Confessions”

Chapter B15, “The Authority of Scripture and the Confessions”

The Lutheran Confessions are also called “symbols.” Pieper asks how the confessions and the Scriptures interact. Lutherans have normally not set the confessions alongside Scripture as a second norm. Yet the way in which ministers assent to the confessions is significant. Pieper details two ways of subscribing to the confessions, the quia and the quatenus. Under a quia subscription (“because”), the individual agrees to the confessions because they reflect Scripture accurately. This, Pieper says, is the appropriate view. The quatenus (“so far as”) subscription allows selective rejection of parts of the confessions.

Pieper details various ways in which a quatenus pledge may appear.

1) The confessions are essentially correct about chief doctrines. This allows the subscriber to pick and choose what level of accuracy is meant, as well as what the chief doctrines are.

2) The confessions are binding if they speak to an actual doctrinal dispute, but not otherwise.

3) The confessions are accurate when interpreted correctly. This allows the interpreter to change the meaning at will.

4) We follow the spirit of the confessions.

A quia pledge talks only about the doctrinal matters, not subsidiary discussion. Pieper supports this wholeheartedly.

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