Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics: Volume 2. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968.
“Conversion” Loc. 10240.
In this lengthy chapter with many discursive footnotes Pieper ties the doctrine of conversion to the doctrine of justification. Luther rejected the idea found in the Roman church that “man still retains the faculty of applying himself to the gracious work of God” (Pieper 1968, Loc. 10245). If man is able to cooperate with God’s grace for salvation then salvation is not of God. It is by works (Ibid., Loc. 10257). Pieper labels Melanchthon as having capitulated to a synergistic message and portrays him and Calvinists as finally believing salvation by works (Ibid., Loc. 10261). He moves on with ten points describing a Scriptural doctrine of conversion.
- The Nature of Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10266). This is a turning from one’s own morality and accepting the grace of God. It is not a work of moral purification but is a reception of forgiveness.
- The Efficient Cause of Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10297). There are three possible ways to see conversion. It may be done by man alone, by man and God together, or by God alone. Pieper asserts that “Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions teach divine monergism “ (God alone) (Ibid., Loc. 10302). This idea is absolutely foreign to us by nature (Ibid., Loc. 10338).
- The Means Through Which God Effects Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10355). This is the word of the Gospel, which creates faith.
- The Inner Motions in Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10368). Pieper points out a troubled conscience followed by a heartfelt trust in Christ.
- Conversion Is Instantaneous (Ibid., Loc. 10390). There may be time for preparation but we do not find a period of time between unbelief and belief.
- Man Can Prevent His Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10445). Many passages of Scripture speak of resisting and rejecting God’s grace. This does not mean God is not omnipotent. When he works through means he can be resisted (Ibid., Loc. 10459).
- Transitive and Intransitive Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10463). These terms describe one action from two perspectives. Intransitive: God turns the sinner. Transitive: the sinner turns.
- Continued Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10481). “Conversion continues throughout the life of the believer” (Ibid., Loc. 10481, Matt. 18:3). We daily seek God’s forgiveness and renewal. This is distinguished from the initial conversion which starts the Christian life (Ibid., Loc. 10494).
- Re-Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10498). “Scripture clearly teaches that a true believer may lapse from grace and lose his faith . . . they who have fallen from faith may be re-converted” (Ibid., Loc. 10510).
- Objections to Divine Monergism in Conversion (Ibid., Loc. 10541). There are two basic categories of objections, “ostensible” and “real.” Pieper here deals with “ostensible reasons, which argue in the name of logic. All in all, human logic is inadequate to deal with divine wisdom and God’s sovereignty (Ibid., Loc. 10549). Pieper draws multiple illustrations from typical arguments against monergism.