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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Augsburg Confession @ 487: Mendelssohn; Vom Schem Hamphoras PDF download

      Today marks a most glorious event in all of Church History – the 487th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession.  Someone recently suggested a commemoration of this event is fitting for this year of the 500th Anniversary (Quincentenary) of the Reformation.  I have 2 ways of celebrating this event:

(1) Readers (like me) may celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by listening to Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5, the The Reformation Symphony.  Felix Mendelssohn was a composer born a Jew but became a Christian.  The Wikipedia article on him reports he was baptized into the "Evangelical" (i.e. not Lutheran but Reformed) church.  Another article reports that his Symphony No. 5 was to honor the 300th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession (bolding mine):
Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 … was composed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession and thus bears the title The Reformation Symphony.
But finally it is reported that some modern scholars attempt to demonstrate "that Mendelssohn was deeply sympathetic to his ancestors' Jewish beliefs".  They could argue that all day long, but it is hard to swallow when one listens to his Reformation Symphony which clearly based its melody on Luther's most famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" (TLH-262).  That is certainly an odd way to be "sympathetic to his ancestors' Jewish beliefs"!  Let these modern scholars argue all they want... let them repeat Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony (in honor of the 300th Anniversary of the Augsburg Confession)... over and over again, to "honor his ancestors' Jewish beliefs"!  Indeed, I fail to see that Mendelssohn even honored the Reformed Church's break from the Lutheran Church by his Reformation Symphony!  I say let these modern scholars "chatter and cackle" all they want!
      The world today attempts to draw the focus away from Mendelssohn's Jewish background, because he became a Christian.  But I will honor Felix Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony. Indeed, may this blog post honor this "Jewish" Christian and the honor he gave the first Lutheran Confession in his Reformation Symphony.  How I love to listen to this symphony… over and over again!  And in today's Internet Age, there is a free way to celebrate the Internet (thank you Google!) with a free rendering of… The Reformation Symphony:

(2) A second way to celebrate this day would be to read (or reread) Luther's polemical writing of Vom Schem Hamphoras.  A reader recently has found it helpful to assemble all 8 Parts from my blog into one PDF file for readability (and printability).  He has granted me the right to offer it to the public.  One may download it >> here <<.  If time is short, just read pages 61-68 on the name "Jehovah" – Franz Pieper recommended that this section be read over and over. — If there are future updates to this PDF, they will be noted here.

May both of these steps be a tribute to the 
Augsburg Confession
June 25, 1530

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Concordia Triglotta – now in Google Books (Part 1)

      Up until now, my only online source for all things "Lutheran Confessions" or "Book of Concord" was sponsored by the LC-MS.  The searchable text, the parsed and hyperlinked paragraphs, the links to sources, etc. have been of immeasurable benefit.  I have stated elsewhere that I consider it the main online source for all things related to the "Lutheran Confessions"…  and it is freely available.  Truly the one who did the work (Norm Fisher?) of preparing all the digital material for this website has done a great service for the Church.  Unfortunately this site's doctrinal article that states
"Scripture is authoritative, according to our Confessions, not because it contains and proclaims the Gospel – the Gospel is proclaimed in many writings – but because it is God's Word"
is clearly no longer applicable to today's teachers of the LC-MS who say the Bible is a "plastic text" and is not of divine origin but divine-human origin.
Now on Google Books

      However, it has come to my attention (perhaps others may already be aware of this… I wasn't) that the complete printed Concordia Triglotta was made available by Google Books (and HathiTrust - full view) as of January 6, 2017 ("Digitized Jan 6, 2017").  What a wonderful celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther's Reformation by… Google Books, HathiTrust, and the library of the University of California! Thank You!  (oh,… hmmmm)
      Anyone familiar with this massive book (I have the 1988 Northwestern Publishing reprint) knows that it includes Friedrich Bente's masterful Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
      I suppose someone from Concordia Publishing House (Paul McCain?) or Concordia Historical Institute or even Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) could inform us:  just when did CPH quit selling their 1921 Jubilee edition?  WorldCat shows that in 1955 Mott Press produced "An exact reprint of the original Concordia Triglotta, published in 1921."  And why was it that Mott Press and Northwestern (1988 & 1999), not Concordia Publishing, picked up these "exact reprints"?  Just why was it that the 1921 edition, which was the old (German) Missouri Synod's tribute to the 400th Anniversary of the Reformationdiscarded?  Could it be that the "confessional Lutherans" of the LC-MS did not care for their 400th Anniversary?  These questions come to mind:
  • Do today's "confessional Lutheran" teachers of the LC-MS really care about the 500th Anniversary?
  • Should we care about their "celebration" like they care about old Missouri's 400th Anniversary celebration?
So all my future hyperlinking of old (German) Missouri writings which refer to the Book of Concord, or the Müller edition or the Concordia Triglotta ("Trigl.") will now include links to this copy by Google Books.  Anyone (all LC-MS teachers?) using the Tappert edition or Kolb/Wengert edition or McCain's Reader's Edition (which are not publicly available online) will have to figure out their own cross-references.  I am content to know the Lutheran Confessions from old Missouri!  (Isn't the Internet wonderful?)

Latin and German versions
      For those wanting to research the original languages of Latin and German, the situation is irregular, a "mixed bag".  Although Google Books and HathiTrust properly OCR'd the Latin and English texts, unfortunately neither processed the printed German text in fraktur font.  However, the German text is available online at the BookOfConcord site (searchable but not parsed by paragraph), and as a downloadable scanned image (not searchable).  The Latin version is searchable at Google Books, but not at since it is only available as a scanned PDF image file and therefore not available to cite by section or paragraph – an oversight?
      I obtained the digital text documents for German only and Latin only versions some years ago, probably from a Northwestern Publishing House CD digital product.  The following language is inserted at various intervals in their text:
“Lutheran Church. Missouri Synod. (1997). Concordia Triglotta - German : The Symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Includes indexes. (electronic ed.) (:). Milwaukee WI: Northwestern Publishing House.”
A current search of the NPH website shows no indication that they are selling this any longer, so they appear to have divested themselves completely from all things "Concordia Triglotta".  —   I wonder that the text of these files was extracted by the webmaster of (Norm Fisher?).  Anyway, call me reckless, but I am going to make these digital documents freely downloadable here:
Note: if someone (i.e. CPH or NPH) wants to complain of copyright issues, I will remove the above links.  I am making these files available because the content is already freely available from (1) and (2) Google Books, now in this year of the 500th Anniversary of Luther's Reformation, 2017.  Yes, I will celebrate this, just like the old (German) Missouri Synod did 100 years ago with their Quadricentenary Jubilee, I will celebrate this edition for the
Quincentenary Jubilee anno Domini 2017!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      To further celebrate this unveiling by Google Books, I want to highlight just one small portion which had a big impact – a Reformation.  It has to do with the doctrine that started my research leading up to the above discovery: Franz Pieper's teaching on "sola fide" or the teaching of "by faith alone" – in my next Part 2.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Luther’s warning: “I believe what Church believes” (the "Köhler" or “charcoal-burner's faith”)

      In continuing my project of hyperlinking the references in Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik work, I ran across his quote from Luther's writing that sounded so familiar to me.  (CDk1, p. 512, n. 1190)  A little research found that it does not seem to be in the American Edition of Luther's Works, but it surely has been quoted by many – somewhere – because it sounds so familiar!  And because the translation in the English edition Christian Dogmatics (vol. 1, p. 429, n. 55) did a great service of presenting this famous passage in English, I want to republish this short section.  (German speakers can read the text at St. L. XVII, 2013, #15 or here.)  But a little background will help to understand one of the terms used for people outside of Germany.
"Köhler" or "charcoal-burner"

The terms "Köhler" and "Köhlerglaube" are used by Luther and Pieper in the German language, and this is translated as "collier" in the English edition of Pieper's work.  "Köhler" means "charcoal-burner", but "collier" can also mean "coal miner" so the English translators took some liberty in using the term "collier".  There is a very interesting article in the German Wikipedia on "Köhler", the "charcoal-burner"... he "led a poor, lonely life".  And let it be known that the German term "Köhlerglaube" is translated by Google Translate as "blind faith", not "collier's faith".  As to the reason why it is translated this way will become apparent by the following story from Martin Luther.  So with this explanation of terms, I now will let Luther proceed with his story:

“The story is told that a doctor of theology, meeting a charcoal-burner on the bridge at Prague and taking into account that he was but a poor layman, asked him: ‘My good man, what do you believe?’ The charcoal-burner answered: ‘I believe what the Church believes.’ The doctor: ‘And what does the Church believe?’ The charcoal-burner: ‘The Church believes what I believe.’ Later, when the doctor came to die, the devil so severely troubled him as to his faith that he knew not where to turn and found no rest until he said: ‘I believe what the charcoal-burner believes.’ 
Thomas Aquinas

A similar story is told of the great Thomas Aquinas. As his end approached, he could find no rest from the devil until he said: ‘I believe what this book says,’ meaning the Bible in his arms. But God preserve us from such a faith! For if they had no better faith than this, both the doctor and charcoal-burner believed themselves into the abyss of hell.”
Ah, yes, we hear Luther speak of the famous Thomas Aquinas, a well-known Roman Catholic theologian.  And Luther shouts to us through the ages, that a "blind faith" is just that: a blind faith and not a true faith.  I remember the warning given by that phrase "I believe what the Church believes".  And on this point, the great teacher Franz Pieper chides the Papists:
They actually expect people to believe what the Church believes without knowing what the Church believes and Scripture teaches. To this Luther says: “God preserve us from such a faith!” 
Indeed, in this 500th Anniversary of Luther's Reformation, may "God preserve us from such a faith"!   May no reader of this blog "believe themselves into the abyss of hell"!  For we know "that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14) and that "He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pieper on Luther: His Mightiest Hymn? (on John 3:16 – 500th Anniversary Luther sermon)

      While continuing my project of presenting Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik online and adding hyperlinks to the many references he gives, I ran across the following statement by Pieper in an extended footnote (Christian Dogmatics 2, p. 8, n. 14; CDk2-7n19):
“Luther’s exposition of John 3:16 (“God so loved the world, etc.”) is perhaps the mightiest hymn on the love of God for all mankind ever sung by a teacher of the Church.” (St. L. XI: 1092 f.)
I could not just pass up this recommendation by Pieper and let it go unnoticed without highlighting it as a memorial for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.  Pieper was in the middle of drawing out the heart of the Reformation, listing all the individual synonyms of God's love.  And this recommendation by Pieper is for me one of the highest praises there is in the world today for a specific sermon of Luther.
     Because Pieper only references the St. Louis Edition of Luther's works, I had to do a little research.  What I discovered is that this sermon of Luther is available online in Google Books here from one of J.N. Lenker's old translations. (See HathiTrust Catalog Record here for The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther.) But a little research discovered that the New Series of the American Edition of Luther's Works has this same sermon re-translated and perhaps a little more readable.  In fact this new version of Luther's sermon is freely available to the public in CPH's "Look Inside" PDF preview file here.  It is in Volume 77 (Church Postil III).
      I have highlighted another "greatest" sermon of Luther elsewhere (on John 1:29).  And it would have no benefit to try to rank one sermon over the other.  But Pieper's praise of Luther in this sermon means this is indeed one of his greatest.  And so I want to present Lenker's full text in this blog post:

Full document available to view >> here <<.

At paragraph # 43, p. 366: Luther sums up the situation:
“Here is the verdict which makes the distinction between the saved and the damned. It does not depend upon how worthy or unworthy you are, for it has already been determined that all are sinners and deserve to be condemned; but it depends upon whether you believe in this Jesus Christ or not.”
And on the much misunderstood doctrine of "faith", Luther is the definitive teacher (para. 30):
“Of what benefit is the gift of faith if it is nothing more than such an empty vessel? Of what value unless one looks upon and comforts one's self in the thought of what is comprehended in it, and what alone makes it precious, so that one may say: Faith may be but a little and insignificant monstrance or box, but in it, nevertheless, there is so precious a gem that heaven and earth cannot contain it.”
And what is that "precious gem" that Luther speaks about?  It is the universal, objective truth that God has changed His heart, He has turned away from His wrath and declared all sinners justified and confirmed it on Easter morning.  Now He bids all people to believe this glorious Gospel.  --
      I thank God for Dr. Franz Pieper who brought the Reformation into such clear focus after 400 years and set the stage for our 500th Anniversary. -- Thank God for Luther's Reformation!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Pieper anniversary - Der Luth. notice of CPH book What Is Christianity?

      Today marks the anniversary date of Franz Pieper's death – June 3, 1931.  As I was recently reviewing and updating my master Table of Contents to the Der Lutheraner periodical, I ran across the following full page announcement by Concordia Publishing House in 1933.

Original German text file here. Translation by BackToLuther.
In memory of Dr. F. Pieper.
(June 3, 1931 – June 3, 1933)
On the second anniversary of the death of Prof. Dr. F. Pieper we want to put on the market a book to remember again our beloved teacher and leader.  It contains six trustworthy papers that Dr. Pieper delivered before delegate and district synods during the last years of his blessed effectiveness.  To secure a wide distribution of these doctrinal lectures and to make possible for many their study, we have decided to issue it in the English language, not in a stiff literal translation, but rendered in easily legible, fluent English.  Dr. J. Th. Mueller, a colleague and admirer of his former teacher for eleven years, was appointed for this difficult work.  Dr. Mueller has always had a lot to do with studying the teaching method of Dr. Pieper in the presentation of Bible doctrines, and during the last couple of years he was particularly busy studying the writings of Dr. Pieper in the field of dogmatics and transferring them into English.

The book which will appear on June 3, 1933, the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Pieper, is titled What Is Christianity? and Other Essays and includes the following papers:
1. What is Christianity?  (1902)  (Das Wesen des Christentums.)
2. The Christian World View. (1923.)   (Die rechte Weltanschauung.)
3. The Reconciliation of Man with God. (1916)  (Die Versöhnung des Menschen mit Gott.)
4. The Layman's Movement in the Light of God's Word. (1913.)   (Die von Gott geordnete Leienbewegung.)
5. The Holy Bible.  (1921)  (Die Heilige Schrift.)
6. The Open Heaven. (1929)  (Der offene Himmel.)
It is hardly necessary to note that this collection of papers has high intrinsic value, and given the fact that these talks come from one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times, one should expect that all  members of our Synod will be interested in it.  This book is admirably suited to be used by the public as well to be incorporated by college and seminary libraries.  To help in this connection, and indeed also to have the effect that many personally buy the book, so we would like to ask the readers of this magazine.  
Concordia Publishing House, 1933The book will contain VIII and 290 pages and be tastefully bound in canvas hardcover with gold imprint title.
Price : $ 1.75 postage paid
To those whose order on this book reaches us soon we will gladly include a free copy of the short biography of Dr. Pieper which Dr. Theodore Gräbner published not long after his death. But we must note that our supply of this booklet is limited.


      When I ran across this announcement in Der Lutheraner, I pulled out my copy of this book and reviewed the features they included in this special book from "one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times" -- choice words from the book publisher!  (I have blogged previously about this book.)

      Concordia Publishing House quit selling the hardcover original version long ago.  Sometimes the original 1933 hardcover is available used on Amazon.  Thank God! that at least CPH has continued to sell in a "Print-On-Demand" format what they formerly highly recommended to all their readers.  Again, what was it CPH called Franz Pieper in 1933?

“…one of the outstanding teachers of the Lutheran Church of all times”

† Franz Pieper †
June 3, 1931 (86 years ago today)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Günther, Part 2: Popular Symbolics & the real Lutheran Difference

      This concludes from Part 1 on the life and work of the early professor of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, Martin Günther. —  Before I begin this segment, I want to announce that I have updated my table of all of Pieper's references to old Missouri books to add the many citations from Günther's book.
Martin Günther († 1893)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
      Along with editing two periodicals, Günther produced a noted book with lasting benefits for American Lutherans.  

An example of what Pieper described as Günther's great "gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine" was his best known book, Populäre Symbolik (1872).  This became the basis for several later editions with different editors: 2nd edition in 1881, 3rd (1898) and 4th editions (1913) edited by Fürbringer (cover at left), both used by Pieper in his Christliche Dogmatik. who referred to it about 37 times! It was also translated into Norwegian – see WorldCat.

Th. Engelder's English language Popular Symbolics (1934, title page at right; WorldCat) "differs completely from Guenther, inasmuch as the earlier book treated the matter under doctrinal heads, cross-secting the denominations, while Popular Symbolics treats it by churches." (p. VII).  But there is no chance that CPH would ever want to sell Engelder's book again… it is far too polemic for today's LC-MS.  There is little true defense (Wehre) of Lutheranism left in today's LC-MS.  
"Based on Guenther"
And finally there is Wallace McLaughlin's Comparative Symbolics (1968, cover at left, purchase here $14). — 

      Pieper refers to Guenther's book (3rd edition and 4th edition) about 37 times in his Dogmatik (English: Christian Dogmatics) – see this blog post.  Th. Engelder, the English translator of Pieper's Dogmatik, cross-referenced some of these references to his own Popular Symbolics book in the English edition.

      This is a dying breed of books published by LC-MS writers... ever since Engelder's 1934 book.  There is little true defense (Wehre) of Lutheranism left in today's LC-MS.  Why is this?  Oh, that's right, CPH published The Lutheran Difference (CPH 2014) to fill the gap ... isn't that the book where the editor claims that "Vatican II (1962–65) brought substantive changes to Roman Catholic practice and attitudes"?  Also Daniel Preus published his Why I Am A Lutheran book but never mentions the Roman Catholic Church.   Rather the LC-MS President Matthew Harrison is noted for joining “with St. Peter Catholic Church” to revitalize a neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  (sigh)
      If you want to know what actually is the difference between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church and all of the sects, you do well to avoid current works and at least go back to Engelder's 1934 book (a readable, searchable version on, Do you want to know more about the teachings of the "Unitarians", "Greek Catholics", "Quakers", "Shakers", "German Baptists", "Assemblies of God", "Congregationalists"?  Just search for these terms.  Better yet, just browse through the extensive 30-page index or the 14-page Bibliography and you may well have better information than what is in Wikipedia.  And any church that springs up in America today that does not immediately mention their "brand" is most likely... Reformed (Baptist/Pentecostal).  Just drill down their online web page "About Us" or "What We Believe" section.
      But the very best basis for standing ("Here I Stand!") in the Lutheran Church today for English readers is to read Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics – and Pieper relied on Prof. Martin Günther.  Pieper and Günther are not, as Prof. David Scaer implies, outdated.  The Roman Catholic Church is essentially the same as it was 100 years ago – there has been no cancellation of the anathemas of the Council of Trent.  The so-called "Protestant" sects (i.e. Reformed) are essentially the same.  The Quakers, the Methodists, etc. are essentially the same.  They all separated themselves from any right to call themselves... "Protestant". They all separated themselves in varying degrees from the right to call themselves followers of Luther's Reformation.
      After Günther's passing in 1893, how did God preserve the "Missouri Synod" for the next century?  First of all He gave His Word; secondly God gave it President Franz Pieper, who held to the Word of God until the day he died in 1931.  This propelled the true "Missouri Synod" into the Twentieth Century.
(In later posts, I will present Pieper's funeral addresses for the remaining 2 theologians of the group pictured that was active up to 1892 – A.L. Gräbner and George Stöckhardt)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Copernicanism comment from Germany

      I received a private email from a German correspondent whom I will call "JM". This may have been because I did not allow public comments on my "Copernicanism" series, and so this was the only way for "JM" to make a comment.  The sender granted me permission to publish his email which reads as follows:
Researching geocentricity and bible I found your blog. It is very, very interesting. Though I am involved in this topic since 2016, I never heard from F.E. Pasche and the Missouri Synode. Thank you for this amazing publications.
I am from Germany, so I can learn something new about Luther and the lutherian church. This fits to the 500. anniversary of reformation.
Do you know Robert Sungenis and his approach to geocentricity? Very interesting also!
Greeting from Germany 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reply to "JM":
      As I stated in my first reply to you, I was pleased to hear your comments.  I am happy you find the information beneficial.  Certainly you, as a German, do not need any of my English translation work!  How I envy you!
      As for Robert Sungenis, I can say that I have read about his background history in Dr. Gerhardus Bouw's book Geocentricity: Christianity in the Woodshed (see  Sungenis is now known for his "conversion back to Roman Catholicism" and for defending against the "Protestant doctrine" of salvation by faith alone.  But his "defense" flies directly in the face of the Bible and the Apostle Paul:
Eph. 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Lutherbibel 1545 here: Denn aus Gnaden seid ihr selig worden durch den Glauben, und dasselbige nicht aus euch, GOttes Gabe ist es; nicht aus den Werken, auf daß sich nicht jemand rühme.)
So Sungenis's "defense" of "geocentricity" falls to the ground.  Why?  Because he does not believe the Bible at its foundation.  The Gospel of John states of the Holy Scriptures that 
"…these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."  John 20:31 (Lutherbibel 1545 here: "Diese aber sind geschrieben, daß ihr glaubet, JEsus sei Christus, der Sohn GOttes, und daß ihr durch den Glauben das Leben habet in seinem Namen.")
      And so, JM, I send you greetings from America back to the land of Luther's Reformation: Germany.  I was going to think that your only interest in this subject was the "scientific" aspect.  But then you spoke of "Luther and the Lutheran Church"… and then you said:
"This fits to the 500. anniversary of reformation." -- JM
I would say that you are right!  That Luther believed the Bible and so the Reformation came to be because he believed it at its foundation -- the Gospel.
      You may study all the scientific aspects that Pastor F.E. Pasche wrote about in his 2 books -- there certainly is a lot of science and history of science in them.  For more up-to-date science, you may want to purchase Dr. Bouw's book.  I would suggest that you hold off reading the works of Robert Sungenis, at least until you are well-grounded in the truth. --

I must add this: The greatest warnings against Copernicanism were from... Lutherans.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Walther, Schaller, Lange… now Günther! Pieper's address (Part 1)

      This follows the previous blog on Prof. C.H.R. Lange's funeral message.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      The young Concordia Seminary president, Prof. Franz Pieper was called on again in short order after Prof. Lange's passing to deliver yet another funeral address – this time for Prof. Martin Günther (WorldCat Identity).  This passing would now bring the total to four fathers of the early Missouri Synod who had fallen in the space of 5-6 years.  Would this young man just wring his hands and wonder how he could carry on such a church in America that had grown so much and thrived under its founder Walther?  How could he keep the ship of Missouri from capsizing?... keep it sailing under God's blessing?  Let us hear how God not only used the dear Günther, but also the dear Franz Pieper and kept the ship of Missouri sailing, and propelled it into the 20th century:
†  Prof. M. Günther. †
Memorial address,
held in the auditorium of the theological seminary
F. Pieper.
In Christ, dearly beloved mourners.
When we had gathered at this place for a funeral service a little more than seven months ago, we had to break into the complaint: "Walther, Schaller, Lange — God has called these men away over a period of five years from our midst and the chairs at our institution." But what should we say today, where we once again need to gather still in the same academic year for a funeral service, because the Lord has suddenly called our dear Professor Prof. Günther from his work! In a period of six years — May 7th of 1887 was the day of the death of the blessed Dr. Walther — our institution has lost four teachers, all the older members of the teaching staff have gone home.  We are not merely beaten — God has thrown us into the dust. We are shaken and frightened to the core. The elders in our council  are taken away from us!
Also our institution, as well as our whole synod, suffered a great loss by the going home  of our blessed Günther. He was one of the first students of the founders of our Synod. In their spirit he was educated, and in their spirit he walked and worked in the service of the church for forty years, twenty years as a pastor and twenty years professor of theology at the local institution. A clear and sure knowledge of the pure Christian doctrine marked him as it is testified in the confession of our Church. He possessed in a great measure the gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine.  And as he was devoted to the pure, unadulterated doctrine with all his heart, he shared with all serious and well-informed children of God the quality that he was hostile to all adulteration of the salutary doctrine. In this sense he has worked in his oral lectures and in writings, and exerted an extensive influence on our Synod and the Church in general.  It was true that his effectiveness took place more in silence. Rarely did he speak in public church meetings. But it was given to him before others to testify in a clear, concise, written expression the saving truth and to refute the error.  Thus, through many years of editorial work, especially in the Der Lutheraner, God made him a blessing to the Church. And the pure doctrine was not only a dead storehouse for him.  What he taught and wrote as a theological professor, he also gladly preached from the pulpit of the Christian congregation. He died preaching. He was as a theological professor still lovingly active as a pastor.  As a theological professor, he gathered and nurtured a church in Kirkwood, which now has already appointed its own pastor for several years. Such a pardoned instrument in the hand of God was the blessed Günther!
We are deeply, deeply afflicted by the loss which we have suffered by his sudden death. But do we want to quarrel with God? Not so! God has allowed us to enjoy the service of our fathers to their old age; They have been among us forty or fifty years. So not quarreling, but thanking is appropriate.  Do we want to be despair because God takes the old, experienced teachers so fast one after another from us?  This, too, would not be in accordance with the will of God. We know from the Word of God, and also through the testimony of our fathers, that the Church is not built on the persons of the teachers whom God gives and takes, but on a basis which remains the same through all changes of persons. This is the foundation of the apostles and prophets; this is the Word of God, as God has recorded through the apostles and prophets in the Holy Scriptures, and has given the Church a foundation. As long as the Church of God has a pure Word, and remains in it with simple faith, so long does it remain firm and immovable on the foundation upon which God Himself has built it, and on which God will continue to build it until the Last Day. We should also not despair in unbelief. But let us recollect and be reminded that we hold fast to faith in the immovable foundation of the Church, namely, the infallible Word of God, and always base our persuasion upon them again and again. That can, that will be given us by God out of grace. So in the great tribulation that has affected us, our prayer is this:
Oh, stay with your grace
With us, Lord Jesus Christ,
That we not be brought to shame
By the evil enemy’s cunning.

Oh, stay with your Word
With us, precious Saviour,
To us both here and there
Preserve goodness and salvation.
Lord, have mercy. Amen.
 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

      As Pieper mentions, Günther worked many years as an editor for the Der Lutheraner magazine.  He wrote many articles – search for "(G.)" or "Günther" in my Table of Contents blog post.  He also was the main editor for the periodical Magazin für Ev.-Luth. Homiletik  —  And his biographical book of Walther C.F.W. Walther: Lebensbild was a popular book for presenting the life of Walther to succeeding generations.  The book has had enough interest in Germany to be republished again in recent years.  It is too bad that this was never fully translated into English!

But perhaps the greatest legacy of Prof. Guenther, as Pieper highlights, was when he used his "gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine".  In the next Part 2 of this blog series, I will expand on this part of Günther's work sometimes referred to as "popular symbolics".

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Missourian died… but lives — C.H.R. Lange (Pieper's address in 1892)

      As I was going through my Der Lutheraner table of contents, I ran across the publication of Concordia Seminary President Franz Pieper's address at the funeral of one of its early professors - C.H. Rudolf Lange, or R. Lange.  It was published in the November 8, 1892 issue as the lead article.  I was interested to read this as Prof. Lange is lesser known among his colleagues... what did he teach?... was he strong in his teaching and defending of Christian doctrine?  But the still new and youthful President did what he does best – Franz Pieper brought out a true faith that leaves one praising God for such a teacher as...
Prof. Carl Heinrich Rudolf Lange 
(† 1892)

What follows is my translation of only the first paragraph of Pieper's address:
held on the day of the funeral of the blessed
Prof. R. Lange in the seminary
by Prof. F. Pieper.

In Christ, beloved mourning gathering!
A teacher of our institution has been called up by God from this life, and the one gone home was the oldest teacher of the Collegium. And not only was he the oldest teacher, but he was also one of the men whose public effectiveness extends into the early days of our Synod, to the men who had participated in the mighty struggles, but also in the rich blessing of the beginnings. The blessed Prof. Lange had already come to faith in Christ in the old Fatherland. But to the clear knowledge of the Christian doctrine as a theologian should have, he was first led here [in America] by God.  In private talks, he has repeatedly made the doctrine well-known of which the clear knowledge came to him. This was the doctrine of objective justification, the doctrine clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, that God is completely reconciled with the whole world of sinners through Christ. Thus the Gospel was not to him the message of a reconciliation that had yet to be achieved, but of the reconciliation which had already taken place, and to be accepted by faith. The Word and the Sacraments were now the means by which God offered and sealed to the individual sinners the salvation acquired by Christ. The Church was the fellowship of those who believe in the grace of Christ purchased and presented in the Gospel.  In this light he was changed as a teacher. In the light of this knowledge he served with the gifts of the Church given to him.

What Pieper stressed at the beginning of his address was that Prof. Lange believed the Gospel, or Universal, Objective Justification.  And where did Lange find this light?  In America.  And who was it that brought this doctrine to the New World?...  C.F.W. Walther.