HERMAN SASSE and Arthur Carl Piepkorn

I recently received a request for a copy of the two articles I published in Lutheran Forum on the relationship between Hermann Sasse and Piepkorn. I made PDFs of them and sent them to the one who asked for them. The ALPB, which publishes the LF, allows this as long as you give them credit. If you would like copies, let me know.

The first one was actually a letter to the editor, to which he gave name “The Tragedy of Sasse’s Critique of Piepkorn” (a play on Sasse’s frequent use of the word “tragedy”) and published in the “Another Viewpoint” section of the LF. 36:3 (Una Sancta/Fall 2002), 37-38.

The second was “A Closer Look at Sasse’s Critique of Piepkorn,” 38:1 (Easter/Spring 2004), 30-40.

By the way, while working in the Piepkorn Papers in September, I came across a Dec 6 1947 letter to Herman Preus of Luther Seminary, in which Piepkorn wrote:

“Sasse must be given every bit of support we can muster with our prayers and with our influence. 
If you think we can find him a publisher, I should be delighted to translate Vom Sakrament des Altars. It would mean shelving other work for a year, however, and I’d like to feel that it wouldn’t just be a philological exercise for me; I don’t mean compensation by that, but I’d like to hope that it would be published.” The letter is in Box 84, folder 8.

I also learned recently that Jacob Preus paid for a subscription of Christian News to be sent Sasse when he was in Australia. The souce of that news is impeccable. Sasse also received the Confessional Lutheran and was misled by it according to Piepkorn.

January 2009: I was invited to make a presentation on “A Pilgrimage Not Taken: Arthur Carl Piepkorn” at the 32nd Annual Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions, which was held at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, January 21-23, 2009. I changed the title to 
“Arthur Carl Piepkorn on the ‘Schism of Authority’ in Lutheranism.” Since the Fort Wayne seminary is not posting symposium papers on its new website, I have permission to share the paper. A PDF copy plus a short summary of the paper is available from me at request on CONTACT US.

The theme of the Symposium was “A Last Look at Critical Times: Missouri from the 1950s to the 1970s.” The title that was assigned to me referred to the fact that Piepkorn’s death prevented him from facing some of the decisions his colleagues faced. I was told that I may wish to 
“take into account that today’s seminary students and pastors under the age 55 would have little if any knowledge of Piepkorn and his importance. Thus you cannot presuppose any previous knowledge from the audience except with those who have a firm liturgical commitment.” 
That is the sad truth about Lutheran seminary training in the U.S. today.

In my paper I described Piepkorn’s discovery in 1928 of the sacramental character of the Church, and of the importance of the Lutheran Symbols, which he had read only cursorily in the brief course on the Symbols that was required at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1925-28.

In the bulk of the paper I focused on the “schism of authority” that he describes in his little known 1954 “The Significance of the Lutheran Symbols for Today,” and the “biblicism” that resulted (Vol. 2, 78-101; here, 83-84). I pointed out that the resulting biblicism can be either of the right or of the left and, if anything, is worse in our time than in his.

Finally, I emphasized that his 1928 discovery started him on a course (or “pilgrimage,” if you wish) from which he never departed.

Robert Louis Wilken of the University of Virginia, who spoke on Jaroslav Pelikan, told me that my paper “was very good,” and that he “learned a great deal from it about how Piepkorn got to where he was.”

The 430 seat auditorium had only scattered empty seats for my paper and others watched on the monitor in the commons.

Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne has had a copy of my paper since February 8, but as of April 22, is yet to post a single paper.

Paul Robert Sauer made an excellent a presentation on “Out of Step or Ahead of His Times: Berthold von Schenk . Sauer is the pastor of von Schenk’s church in the Bronx and Associate Editor of the Lutheran Forum.

I was also invited to be present for the symposium on exegetical theology, which began on January 20.

The list of speakers and the schedule for the two symposia are at 

In February I spoke about Piepkorn at the “Adult Forum” of All Saints Lutheran Church in San Diego. I get out to Southern California 2-3 times a year and am available for presentations in Bible classes or to pastoral groups.