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Posts Tagged ‘C.F.W. Walther’

“Preach the Law in All Its Sternness and the Gospel in All Its Sweetness”

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther

Born: 25 October 1811, Langenchursdorf, Saxony, Germany

 Died:   7 May 1887,St. Louis,Missouri

First President of The Lutheran Church-MissouriSynod: 1847-1850 & 1864-1878

C.F.W. Walther was educated at the University of Leipzig, after which he tutored for the Loeber family in Cahla from 1833 to 1837. He was ordained on 15  January 1837 and briefly accepted a parish in Braeunsdorf, before sailing to America in 1839 with the Saxon Immigration. In 1878, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

On 21  September 1844 he married Emilie Buenger (1812-1885), also one of the original Saxon immigrants.

For forty-six years Walther was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis. He also taught at Concordia Seminary,St. Louis, from 1850 until his death. He served as the president of the Synod from its founding in 1847 to 1850. In 1864 he was again elected president and served until 1878.

  • For more biographical information on Walther  read this.
  • For more information on Walther as Pastor at Trinity Lutheran, and some interesting historical videos regarding Trinity and Walther, go here.

Walther has been called “The Martin Luther of America”.  I do not think this assessment is inaccurate.  As Pastor, President and Professor he had a great influence upon one of the largest Lutheran Church bodies in the United States.  But ‘his’ influence was only from the book he is  probably pointing to in the picture above:  The Holy Scriptures.

Whoever thinks that he can find one error in Holy Scripture does not believe in Holy Scripture but in himself; for even if he accepted everything else as true, he would believe it not because Scripture says so but because it agrees with his reason or with his sentiments.

His most influential book is The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel , the series of 39 evening lectures of his 25 Theses regarding this crucial Biblical understanding to his  seminarians between Friday, September 12, 1884 and Friday, November 6, 1885 and it was published posthumously .   The lectures were based upon great Reformation insight confessed in The Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

“All Scriptures should be divided into these two chief doctrines, the law and the promises.For in some places it presents the Law, and in others the promise concerning Christ, namely, either when [in the Old Testament] it promises that Christ will come, and offers, for His sake, the remission of sins justification, and life eternal, or when, in the Gospel [in the New Testament], Christ Himself, since He has appeared, promises the remission of sins, justification, and life eternal.  Moreover, in this discussion, by Law we designate the Ten Commandments, wherever they are read in the Scriptures.  ” (Article IV. Justification)

Law and Promise (Gospel) do two different things:  the Law shows us our sin and the Gospel points us to our Savior.  If we mix up Law and Promise we have what goes for much of Christian religion:  then we just have to do what we can and God will do the rest, but since sin is death, then it would be like telling Lazarus:  just want and try to live and I’ll do the rest! No!  Jesus Christ called him out of the tomb by His Word…and you and I!  Luther called distinguishing Law and Promise a great, difficult and high art.  Walther contributed to this art mightily.  His lectures have been called “uncreative”.  I thank God for Walther’s uncreativity.  He was no hero but he was faithful to the Scripture and their true exposition in The Book of Concord which was immensely unpopular in 19th Century Protestant America.  Like Lydia, he was considered faithful. 

I came across this meme below  recently.  It’s funny.  He was not handsome. Yes, I agree with the meme…to a point, this point: There is no luck in the Kingdom of God, only the Lord’s sheer grace for sinners.  Yes and thank God for that! The statue of Walther in his mausoleum on the south side of St. Louis, shows him standing and his hand resting on two books: the Bible and the Book of Concord.  The  Lord raises up men to preach and teach the Word of God so it may heard in our day:  May the Lord ever do so! May the Church be so blessed with faithful preaching and teaching!

Arise, you Lutherans of America! Arise! Let us use the glorious freedom that we taste here in America to the end that the old banner of confession, which in our old fatherland lay in musty [ruin], be hoisted here again. And let us gather around this banner as a faithful and courageous people of confession. Let us renew today the old oath of loyalty that we Lutherans have recited already at our confirmation. Let our teachers in church and school be sworn to that oath! Let us examine and correct everything, which we hear and read, next to God’s Word, according to this confession. Finally, let us only work and fight in rank and file with those who are prepared to follow this banner. The storms of the world and the false brothers may rain upon us. They will not rend asunder our banner, but only more fully and broadly unfurl it before the eyes of all the world. In the Old World, my brothers, it is evident that the sun, which once rose in Augsburg and upon the Bergen Cloister, the sun of the pure Gospel, is setting. Many true Lutherans in the Old World look with longing and hope to our young American Lutheran Church, which though it is small, is free. And because she is free, she is, before others, called to salvage and rescue the pure Gospel here in the New World in these last times, that holy relic entrusted to our Church.O arise! Arise, American Lutheran Zion, and let there be light! You, her watchmen, forward! Lay hold the holy banner and hold it high and swing it joyously! All of you, you children of this Zion, man and wife, old and young, follow those who show themselves true bearers of the flag! 0 take heart and be joyful! The Lord, who is a God of truth, is with us! By that sign we shall conquer, though all powers of darkness in midnight hour plot against us and rise against us on the battlefield. The battle will rage hot and ever hotter! Finally, we, persistent to the end—and grant this to us Jesus Christ, Thou Leader in the fight!—we will be taken in triumph into the congregation above, to the eternal festival of jubilation. Amen.

—C. F. W. Walther, from The Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH)

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Preach the Law in All Its Sternness and the Gospel in All Its Sweetness

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther

Born: 25 October 1811, Langenchursdorf, Saxony, Germany

 Died:   7 May 1887,St. Louis,Missouri

First President of The Lutheran Church-MissouriSynod: 1847-1850 & 1864-1878

C.F.W. Walther was educated at the University of Leipzig, after which he tutored for the Loeber family in Cahla from 1833 to 1837. He was ordained on 15  January 1837 and briefly accepted a parish in Braeunsdorf, before sailing to America in 1839 with the Saxon Immigration. In 1878, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

On 21  September 1844 he married Emilie Buenger (1812-1885), also one of the original Saxon immigrants.

For forty-six years Walther was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis. He also taught at Concordia Seminary,St. Louis, from 1850 until his death. He served as the president of the Synod from its founding in 1847 to 1850. In 1864 he was again elected president and served until 1878.

  • For more biographical information on Walther  read this.
  • For more information on Walther as Pastor at Trinity Lutheran, and some interesting historical videos regarding Trinity and Walther, go here.

Walther has been called “The Martin Luther of America”.  I do not think this assessment is inaccurate.  As Pastor, President and Professor he had a great influence upon one of the largest Lutheran Church bodies in the United States.  But ‘his’ influence was only from the book he is  probably pointing to in the picture above:  The Holy Scriptures.

Whoever thinks that he can find one error in Holy Scripture does not believe in Holy Scripture but in himself; for even if he accepted everything else as true, he would believe it not because Scripture says so but because it agrees with his reason or with his sentiments.

His most influential book is The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel , the series of 39 evening lectures of his 25 Theses regarding this crucial Biblical understanding to his  seminarians between Friday, September 12, 1884 and Friday, November 6, 1885 and it was published posthumously .   The lectures were based upon great Reformation insight confessed in The Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

“All Scriptures should be divided into these two chief doctrines, the law and the promises.For in some places it presents the Law, and in others the promise concerning Christ, namely, either when [in the Old Testament] it promises that Christ will come, and offers, for His sake, the remission of sins justification, and life eternal, or when, in the Gospel [in the New Testament], Christ Himself, since He has appeared, promises the remission of sins, justification, and life eternal.  Moreover, in this discussion, by Law we designate the Ten Commandments, wherever they are read in the Scriptures.  ” (Article IV. Justification)

Law and Promise (Gospel) do two different things:  the Law shows us our sin and the Gospel points us to our Savior.  If we mix up Law and Promise we have what goes for much of Christian religion:  then we just have to do what we can and God will do the rest, but since sin is death, then it would be like telling Lazarus:  just want and try to live and I’ll do the rest! No!  Jesus Christ called him out of the tomb by His Word…and you and I!  Luther called distinguishing Law and Promise a great, difficult and high art.  Walther contributed to this art mightily.  His lectures have been called “uncreative”.  I thank God for Walther’s uncreativity.  He was no hero but he was faithful to the Scripture and their true exposition in The Book of Concord which was immensely unpopular in 19th Century Protestant America.  Like Lydia, he was considered faithful. 

I came across this meme below  recently.  It’s funny.  He was not handsome. Yes, I agree with the meme…to a point, this point: There is no luck in the Kingdom of God, only the Lord’s sheer grace for sinners.  Yes and thank God for that! The statue of Walther in his mausoleum on the south side of St. Louis, shows him standing and his hand resting on two books: the Bible and the Book of Concord.  The  Lord raises up men to preach and teach the Word of God so it may heard in our day:  May the Lord ever do so! May the Church be so blessed with faithful preaching and teaching!

Arise, you Lutherans of America! Arise! Let us use the glorious freedom that we taste here in America to the end that the old banner of confession, which in our old fatherland lay in musty [ruin], be hoisted here again. And let us gather around this banner as a faithful and courageous people of confession. Let us renew today the old oath of loyalty that we Lutherans have recited already at our confirmation. Let our teachers in church and school be sworn to that oath! Let us examine and correct everything, which we hear and read, next to God’s Word, according to this confession. Finally, let us only work and fight in rank and file with those who are prepared to follow this banner. The storms of the world and the false brothers may rain upon us. They will not rend asunder our banner, but only more fully and broadly unfurl it before the eyes of all the world. In the Old World, my brothers, it is evident that the sun, which once rose in Augsburg and upon the Bergen Cloister, the sun of the pure Gospel, is setting. Many true Lutherans in the Old World look with longing and hope to our young American Lutheran Church, which though it is small, is free. And because she is free, she is, before others, called to salvage and rescue the pure Gospel here in the New World in these last times, that holy relic entrusted to our Church.O arise! Arise, American Lutheran Zion, and let there be light! You, her watchmen, forward! Lay hold the holy banner and hold it high and swing it joyously! All of you, you children of this Zion, man and wife, old and young, follow those who show themselves true bearers of the flag! 0 take heart and be joyful! The Lord, who is a God of truth, is with us! By that sign we shall conquer, though all powers of darkness in midnight hour plot against us and rise against us on the battlefield. The battle will rage hot and ever hotter! Finally, we, persistent to the end—and grant this to us Jesus Christ, Thou Leader in the fight!—we will be taken in triumph into the congregation above, to the eternal festival of jubilation. Amen.

—C. F. W. Walther, from The Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH)

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Rev. Pastor C.F.W. Walther (first President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and first president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, St. Louis) on  Acts 16:  25-34:

 “The Scriptural answer to the question: “What must I do to be saved?” is: “You must believe; hence you are not to do anything at all yourself.” In that sense the apostle answered the question when it was addressed to him. He practically told the jailer: “You are to do nothing but accept what God has done for you, and you have it and become a blessed person.” That is the precious teaching of the divine Word.

Having this doctrine, what exceedingly happy and blessed people we Lutherans are! This teaching takes us to Christ by a straight route. It opens heaven to us when we feel hell in our hearts. It enables us to obtain grace at any moment without losing time by following a wrong way, striving for grace by our own effort, as we sometimes do with a good intention. We can approach Christ directly and say: “Lord Jesus, I am a poor sinner; I know it; that has been my experience in the past, and when I reflect what is going on in my heart now, I must say, that is still my experience. But Thou hast called me by Thy Gospel. I come to Thee just as I am; for I could come no other way.” That is the saving doctrine which the Evangelical Lutheran Church has learned from Christ and the apostles. (emphasis added)

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The crucifixion, which ended with the triumphant cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30), was the offering of the all-sufficient sacrifice for the atonement of all sinners. The Man on the cross was the Lamb of God, who bears the sins of the world to carry them away from the face of God. The salvation of the whole world once hung by those three nails of the cross on Golgotha. As the fruit from the wood of the forbidden tree from which the first man once ate brought sin, death, and damnation upon the entire human race, so the fruits of the wood of the cross restored righteousness, life, and blessedness to all people. On account of this, the cross is both holy and blessed! Once nothing but a dry piece of wood, it was changed, like Aaron’s staff, into a green branch full of heavenly blossoms and fruit. Once an instrument of torment for the punishment of sinners, it now shines in heavenly splendor for all sinners as a sign of grace. Once the wood of the curse, it has now become, after the Promised Blessing for all people offered Himself up on it, a tree of blessing, an altar of sacrifice for the atonement, and a sweet-smelling aroma to God. Today, the cross is still a terror—but only to hell. It shines upon its ruins as a sign of the victory over sin, death, and Satan. With a crushed head, the serpent of temptation lies at the foot of the cross. It is a picture of eternal comfort upon which the dimming eye of the dying longingly looks, the last anchor of his hope and the only that shines in the darkness of death.

—C. F. W. Walther, (October 25, 1811 – May 7, 1887) Founder of Concordia Seminary/St. Louis and first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

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Note about the word, “Maundy”:  It is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, or commandment (as in “mandate”).  On this 1st of the 3 days of our salvation, the Lord Jesus gave 2 commandments.  1.  When He washed His disciples feet He said, A new commandment that you love one another.  The sense of the Greek is that the new commandment is SO THAT you love another, which would mean the new commandment is to wash each other’s feet.  IN that way we love each other and show forth His love to all.  2. When He broke the bread and gave the Cup, He gave us His body and blood with the words, “Do this”.  The Holy Communion is not optional, but a command.  In Jewish tradition the 2 candles on the dining table represent:  Command and Remembrance.  Yes! “Do this, in remembrance of Me.” (!)  As we are serve one another the Lord serves us His Body and Blood till He comes again in glory.  His Church is called to serve the Dinner:  the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Mass.  Below is a solid sermon quote from one of the Lutheran Church, Dr. C.F.W. Walther on the meaning of the Mass.  A blessed Triuudum!

Triduum:  The Three Days

Holy (Maundy) Thursday

COLLECT OF THE DAY

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

READINGS

Exodus 24:3-11

Psalm 116:12-19

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Mark 14:12-26

or

Exodus 12:1-14

Psalm 116:12-19

 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

 John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The apostle [Paul] wishes to say: Consider, beloved Christians, that when you receive the blessed cup and the blessed bread, each one partakes of the body and blood of Christ; they are both common to all of you. You come into body-and-blood fellowship with one another. For just as many grains become one bread, so in the Holy Supper, you, though you are many, become one Body, one mass, because you are partakers of the one bread and with it one and the same body and blood of Christ.

Because of the presence and participation of the body of Christ, the Holy Supper is a meal of the most intimate fellowship and, therefore, at the same time, the highest love-meal. Just as fervent love is demanded, so fervent love is delivered. We all come together, as children of the same family, to the table of our common, heavenly Father. As great as the distinction between communicants in civic life may be, in the Holy Supper all distinctions evaporate. We are all the same, in that we each eat the same earthly and heavenly bread and drink the same earthly and heavenly drink. In this Meal, the subject and his king, the slave and his master, the beggar and the rich, the child and the old man, the wife and the husband, the simple and the learned, truly all communicants stand as the same poor sinners and beggars, hungry and thirsty for grace. Although one may appear in a rough apron while another in velvet and satin, adorned with gold and pearls, when they depart, all take with them that for which they hunger and thirst: Christ’s blood and righteousness as their beauty and glorious dress. No one receives a better food and better drink than the other. All receive the same Jesus, and with Him, the same righteousness.

 —C. F. W. Walther

Jesus, hail! Enthroned in glory,

There forever to abide;

All the heav’nly hosts adore Thee,

Seated at Thy Father’s side.

There for sinners Thou art pleading; There Thou dost our place prepare, Ever for us interceding

Till in glory we appear.

—Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus (LSB 531:3)

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Intro:  I just learned on-line that on this day, October 25th,  in 1811 C.F.W. Walther was born.  Who was he?  He was the founder of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  Here is a short article on Pastor Walther in St. Louis Today:   C.F.W. Walther Turns 200 Today.

Concordia Seminary St. Louis

If I could count one of the most important books that I have read in the last 10 years it is Walther’s The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.  He wrote 25 Theses on this topic (Lutherans have a penchant for theses!) and then lectured on them for his students at Concordia Lutheran Seminary  (founded by Walther), St. Louis from September 12,1884-November 6, 1885.  Walther’s lectures helped me to leave the ELCA and rejoin the LCMS, this time as a pastor.  The quotes below are some of my favorites.   For what it’s worth:  the longest quote below is from a brother in Christ which convinced me to rejoin.

“Thesis VI
:  In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel.”

“All other religious say to man:  “You must become just so and so and do such and such works if you wish to go to heaven.”  Over against this the Christian religion says: “You are a lost and condemned sinner; you cannot be your own Savior. But do not despair on that count.  There is One who has acquired salvation for you.  Christ has opened the portals of heaven to you and say to you:  Come, for all things are ready.  Come to the marriage of the Lamb.”

“…grace is not something for which I must look in my heart.  It is in the heart of God.”

“…the sects neither believe nor teach a real and complete reconciliation of man with God because they regard our heavenly Father as being a God very hard to deal with, whose heart must be softened by passionate cries and bitter tears. That amounts to a denial of Jesus Christ, who has long ago turned the heart of God to men by reconciling the entire world with Him. God does nothing by halves. In Christ He loves all sinners without exception. The sins of every sinner are canceled. Every debt has been liquidated. There is no longer anything that a poor sinner has to fear when he approaches his heavenly Father, with whom he has been reconciled by Christ.”

“It is…an awful mistake to claim that men can be saved only in the Lutheran Church. No one must be induced to join the Lutheran Church because he thinks that only in that way he can get into the Church of God. There are still Christians in the Reformed Church, among the Methodists, yea, among the papists. We have this precious promise in Is. 55, 11: ‘My Word shall not return unto Me void.” Wherever the Word of God is proclaimed and confessed or even recited during the service, the Lord is gathering a people for Himself. The Roman Church, for instance, still confesses that Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross to redeem the world. That is truth sufficient to bring a man to the knowledge of salvation. Whoever denies this fact is forced to deny also that there are Christians in some Lutheran communities in which errors have cropped out. But there are always some children of God in these communities because they have the Word of God, which is always bearing fruit in converting some souls to God.

The false doctrine concerning the Church which we are studying involves a fatal confounding of Law and Gospel. While the Gospel requires faith in Jesus Christ, the Law makes all sorts of demands upon men. Setting up a demand of some kind as necessary to salvation in addition to faith, the acceptance of the Gospel promises, means to commingle Law and Gospel. I belong to theLutheranChurchfor the sole reason that I want to side with the truth. I quit the Church to which I belong when I find that it harbors errors with which I do not wish to be contaminated. I do not wish to become a partaker of other men’s sins, and by quitting a heretical community I confess the pure and unadulterated truth. For Christ says: Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 10, 32. 33. Again, Paul writes distinctly to Timothy: “Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me, his prisoner.” 2 Tim. 1, 8.

…if I perceive the error of my heretical community and do not forsake it, I shall be lost because, though seeing the error, I would not abandon it.  I can still remember the time when I became a believer. Then I also joined the unionists. Some persons approached me with the intention of bringing me into the LutheranChurch. But I told them that I was a believer and did not choose to belong to a Church that claimed to be the alone-saving Church. Afterwards I found some good writings, which showed me that the Lutheran Church claims to be the only Church that has the pure doctrine, but does not claim to be the alone-saving Church, and admits that men can be saved in the sects if they are not aware of their error. As soon as I learned this, I quit the unionistic community and joined the Lutherans. I had long known that theLutheranChurch has the truth, but I refused to endorse the aforementioned papistic principle. Then I understood that one does not have to condemn any one who is in error regarding some article of the Creed, but only those who have seen their error and still want to abide in it.”

“My heart, now make thy choice: 
On Him stake thy reliance, 
Or thou’lt not come to rest 
Renounce the world and all 
That does thy flesh enthrall; 
With Jesus take thy stand 
And thus the matter end.      

 Blessed are you, my dear friends, if you make the poet’s words: “With Jesus take thy stand And thus the matter end,” the sighing of your heart. Not until you do this, will you “end the matter.””

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