For over half a century the outstanding teacher of dogmatics at Concordia Seminary was the late Dr. Francis Pieper, whom the Lord called to his reward in J une, 1931. His courses in Christian theology were given in German even to the last, and also his great work on dogmatics, his Christliche Dogmatik, was written in that language. It will always remain a standard reference work, which students and pastors who possess an adequate knowledge of German will study with profit and pleasure. Nevertheless, since many students of dogmatics do not understand German, a comprehensive text-book on the subject written in English has been desired for some time. Moved by the requests of many students and encouraged by his esteemed teacher and colleague to undertake the work, the undersigned applied himself to the task of writing this one-volume Christian Dogmatics. His aim was to present the voluminous doctrinal material in Dr. Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik as clearly, concisely, and, at the same time, as completely and practically as possible in order that the student of doctrinal theology might have a usable compend to introduce him into this important field of sacred theology and the busy pastor an ade- quate epitome of the Christian faith to assist him in his review of the subject. The intention was not to render a possible translation of Dr. Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik unnecessary, nor was it designed to take the place of a larger original work on systematic theology. It was simply to be a sizable handbook of Christian dogmatics pre- senting both to the theological student and to the practical pastor the entire subject of doctrinal theology in a brief, yet complete sum- mary according to Dr. F. Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik, While the writer followed Dr. Pieper’s standard work rather closely, he did not bind himself to details in form or content. For this reason the book may be used as an independent text-book, com- plete in itself. Commonly the footnotes were embodied in the text.
The purely polemical matter was greatly condensed; but the writer did not deem it advisable to omit it altogether, since confessional Lutheranism cannot assert itself without directing attention to the opposing tendencies of Romanism, Calvinism, synergism, and rationalism, which have always attacked and endangered the Lutheran doctrine. Dr. Pieper’s method of teaching dogmatics was in many ways ideal; nevertheless each instructor in this branch of sacred theology has certain aims in view which will more or less determine his method of presentation. The writer consistently followed Dr. Pieper’s custom of quoting Luther and the Lutheran Confessions on the major points on which they have spoken, since the Lutheran student cannot discard their valuable testimony. In addition, however, he has frequently quoted also our older dogmaticians, using as his source the Doctrinal Theology of the Ev. Luth. Church by Heinrich Schmid, translated from the German and Latin by Chas. A. Hay and Hy. E. Jacobs. This popular volume presents to the student many helpful passages from the works of our great dogmaticians in a convenient form and therefore deserves diligent study.
The writer indeed does not agree with every statement of either Dr. Schmid or the cited dogmaticians, yet it is both interesting and instructive to consider their doctrinal expositions even in brief excerpts. While a fair knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew will greatly aid the student in understanding this Christian Dogmatics, it may be profitably studied even without the knowledge of these languages. Commonly the Scripture-passages are only indicated, but the reader is expected to compare them carefully, if possible in Greek and Hebrew, since the original often brings out the proof value of a text more distinctly than does the translation. Dr. A. L. Graebner’s Outlines of Doctrinal Theology may be used for collateral study. The writer has always employed this book in his lectures, both on account of its excellent definitions of the given doctrines and its well-grouped Scripture-passages. However, the greatest profit will be obtained if this volume is used in connection with the more complete treatment of the various heads in Dr. Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik. The writer wishes to thank his esteemed colleagues Dr. E. Engelder, Dr. W. Arndt, and Dr. P. E. Kretzmann for their careful and conscientious reading of the manuscript and their many helpful suggestions. He acknowledges his indebtedness also to Synod’s Litera- ture Board, especially to Eev. L. Buchheimer, Eev. A. Doerffler, and Mr. E. Seuel of Concordia Publishing House, to Prof. W. G. Polack and Dr. W. A. Maier for their hearty support and personal interest in the venture, and to his secretary, Rev. F. T. Gabert, for his services in retyping the manuscript.
In view of the fact that this handbook is largely a restatement of Dr. Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik the writer has consoled himself with the thought that even the “prince of the theologians of the Augsburg Confession,” Martin Chemnitz, was satisfied with publish- ing a mere commentary on Melanchthon’s Loci Communes, his justly famous Loci Theologici, and that this work proved so eminently suc- cessful in the Lutheran Church; also that the well-known dogmatics of John William Baier, his Compendium Theologiae Positivae, was really a compend of the theology of Musaeus and “many other orthodox theologians”; and finally, that also John Andrew Quenstedt’s Theologia Didactico-Polemica followed most closely the outline of John Frederick Koenig, whose compend of theology, Theologia Positiva Acroamatica, was widely used as a text-book. We live by the light of the faith of our fathers. Since this handbook of doctrinal theology had to be relatively brief, much valuable dogmatic material was omitted. The student will find much additional dogmatic material in Pastoral Theology by Dean J. H. C. Fritz, D. D., and in the new Popular Symbolics by Drs. Arndt, Engelder, Graebner, and Prof. F. E. Mayer. These three handbooks, supplementing one another, leave hardly any question unanswered that pertains to Christian doctrine and a pure Scriptural practise. It is the writer’s privilege to recommend these two important handbooks in connection with the use of this Christian Dogmatics. We are sure that the readers will appreciate the excellent Preface which our esteemed colleague Dr. P. E. Kretzmann has written upon the author’s request. This fine conspectus of dogmatic research may be viewed as compensatory since the limited space of the handbook did not permit any adequate treatment of more recent developments in the field of dogmatics. It may also serve the student who is more deeply interested in the modern phases of dogmatic lore as an outline and canon by which to orient his own studies. May this Christian Dogmatics, then, go forth on its errand of assisting all students of dogmatics who desire to use it in their study of Christian doctrine! Shortcomings though it may have, it is nevertheless a clear and correct testimony of “God’s Word and Luther’s doctrine pure”; for it was composed with constant consideration of our Lord’s command : “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God,” 1 Pet. 4, 11. St. Louis, Mo. John Theodore Mueller.