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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

07 May 2017
  + C. F. W. Walther, Doctor and Confessor +
7 May AD 1887

CFW Walther Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther was a founding father of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. He served as its first president from 1847 to 1850 and again from 1864 to 1878. Others who worked with him in the Synod's early days included Friedrich Wyneken and Wilhelm Sihler.

The son of a pastor, he was born in Langenchursdorf, Saxony on 25 October 1811. Walther's studies at the University of Leipzig and the influences of older Lutherans helped convince him that Lutheran teachings were correct expositions of Holy Scripture. However, some of his mentors were staunch Pietists, relying heavily on experience and emotion as part of conversion and sanctification. Walther rejected Pietism but seemed to always struggle against its encroachment in his theology.

Fearing a "union church" with the Reformed — as had been happening in Prussia — Walther joined with several other younger pastors under the leadership of Martin Stephan, who encouraged emigration to the United States in order to maintain confessional purity by avoiding imposed unionism. In 1839 he left Germany with other Lutherans. After a series of trials, the party settled along the Mississippi River south of Saint Louis, Missouri. Circumstances still clouded in a certain degree of ambiguity led the Saxons to depose Stephan as their leader and they finally settled upon Walther as his replacement.

Old CFW Walther He served as pastor of several congregations in St. Louis, founded Concordia Seminary, and in 1847 was instrumental in the formation of the LCMS (then called the Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und anderen Staaten — the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States). Walther worked tirelessly to promote confessional Lutheran teaching and doctrinal agreement among all Lutherans in the United States.

Walther was a prolific writer and speaker. Among his most influential works are Church and Office (aka Church and Ministry) and The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel. He also published Der Lutheraner, the LCMS's official news magazine for most of the time the Synod spoke and understood German.

Walther was one of many who stood steadfast in confession of the Evangelical, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. For a sampling of some of the others in Lutheranism, please see The Meanies of Grace.

Lection

Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11

Collect

O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You raised up C. F. W. Walther to lead the Lutherans in American into a renewed appreciation of their confessional heritage and trust in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, so You would continue to provide them with faithful pastors and leaders, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ's Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Comments:
"Circumstances still clouded in a certain degree of ambiguity led the Saxons to depose Stephan as their leader"

It's past time to get rid of the alleged cloud of ambiguity. In his Zion on the Mississippi (CPH, St. Louis, 1953), Prof. Walter Forster wrote:

"A full evaluation of the case for Stephan cannot be attempted without serious consideration of Louise Günther's confession. In a weird and sometimes deliberately obscured phrase of the Saxon emigration, disregard of this document and acceptance of Stephan's quixotic 'defense' constitute a greater strain upon the impartial observer's credulity than to take Louise's statements, in view of corroborating testimony and circumstances, at face value. A middle position scarcely seems possible. Surely the value of this confession is considerably enhanced by her action in rejoining him and by the fact he accepted her. Furthermore, doubts about the reliability of her statements, based perhaps on the suspicion of duress, are reduced to simple caviling for anyone who knows that shortly after Stephan's death Louise sought admission to Trinity Congregation in a petition which, although filled with abject self-recrimination, was supported by a letter from her father. So far as Stephan's relationship at least to Louise Günther is concerned, it is no longer necessary to confine appraisal to such commonplaces as: 'Even yet the matter of Stephan's guilt or innocence is in dispute.'" [pp.427-8]
 
"In 1839 he left Germany with other Lutherans."

Actually, C.F.W. Walther left on the Johann Georg in November, 1838. The other four ships with the Stephanites also left in November, 1838. Except for the Amalia, which was lost at sea, the other ships were recorded as arriving in New Orleans in January, 1839.
 
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