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Clbc Minivers iky of Chicago 

Carl Jpettmanb 

" <in milter JFtiebtnsrtjeolna " 



Hutfjeran Cfjurcf), Baltimore 

ILutfjeran Publication 

Pa M 1917 


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Ijer tofjo ijas eber been mp 
critic anb mj> fetntieiSt frtenb, mp motfjer 

J5obemter 10. 1016 


This little book can hardly be called a bi- 
ography. It is but an attempt to say in Eng- 
lish what has been said so much better in 
German by Guenther, Koestering, Hoch- 
stetter and Graebner. Whatever merit it 
may possess belongs to them rather than to 
its author. The desire to make Walther 
known to English readers is both the apol- 
ogy for and the justification of its having 
been written. May it inspire the prompt 
publication of a real biography of "the most 
commanding figure in the Lutheran Church 
of America during the nineteenth century." 

. fy. Jtoff ens 
Pastor of ^artini <$b. Uutf). 
), Baltimore 





























Cljapter I 


"Doctor Walther, as is generally known, 
was the theological leader of the Missouri 
Synod, and this in a way in which a single 
man has seldom been the leader of a re- 
ligious body. Whatever he said, wrote, did, 
or approved in religious matters was looked 
upon, unless he himself modified or retracted 
it (and this was rare) in the Synod, and, ac- 
cordingly, also outside of it, as if the Synod 
itself had said, written, done or approved 

This estimate of the position and influence 
of Doctor Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther 
was written, not in praise, but in criticism. 
As with much other criticism, the fact stated 
is correct, but the deductions and applica- 
tions are somewhat beside the mark. It is 
hardly correct to say that "Whatever 
Walther said, wrote, did or approved in re- 
ligious matters was looked upon in the Mis- 
souri Synod as if itself had said, written, 
done or approved it." To say that an entire 
church body has absolutely given up all right 
of private judgment and abdicated all in- 


Doctor Carl 

dependence of action is a rather sweeping 

On the other hand, it is undoubtedly cor- 
rect that "Doctor Walther, as is generally 
known, was the theological leader of the 
Missouri Synod, and this in a way in which 
a single man has seldom been the leader of 
a religious body." If the writing of a biog- 
raphy of this man, who was easily the most 
commanding figure in the Lutheran Church 
of America during the nineteenth century, 
needs any apology or justification, it may be 
found in this fact. 

William Fleming Stevenson, in his delight- 
ful little book, "Praying and Working," 
speaking of Louis Harms, of Hermannsburg, 
mentions that in Germany pastorates that re- 
main in the family as many as four or five 
generations are not uncommon, and are re- 
garded as strengthening the affections and 
respect of the people. Walther' s first biog- 
rapher, Professor Martin Guenther, who 
was his associate on the theological faculty 
of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., 
therefore does not fail to state in the very 
first sentence of his book, that "Walther was 
a descendant of an old family of ministers." 
His father, his grandfather and his great- 
grandfather were ministers of the gospel in 


anfc loutf) 

the Lutheran Church of Saxony, the home of 
Luther and the cradle of the Reformation. 
Professor Guenther quotes biographical 
notes written by Walther's own hand. "My 
great-grandfather," he says, "was Moritz 
Heinrich Walther, of Gladau, in the Magde- 
burg neighborhood, since 1719 pastor at 
Oberlungwitz, between Hohenstein and 
Chemnitz, in the County Schoenburg-Glau- 
chau, died March 2, 1752. Unfortunately, 
a Chiliast, as may be seen by the 'Unschul- 
dige Nachrichten,' of the year 1728, page 
565. His wife was a born Reissing from 
Hohenstein. His son, my grandfather, was 
Adolph Heinrich Walther, born at Ober- 
lungwitz, on July 2, 1728, visited the school 
at Annaberg and the University at Leipzig; 
in 1752 he became pastor in Gazen, at Pegau, 
in Saxony, in the 'Stiftsephorie Zeiz,' since 
1763 pastor at Langenschursdorf, near Wal- 
denburg, in the princely Kingdom of Saxony. 
His first wife was Maria Elizabeth, nee 
Wagner, from Burgstadt; the second was 
Auguste Concordia, nee Bonitz, from Lich- 
tenstein. My father was Gottlob Heinrich 
Wilhelm Walther, late pastor of the Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Church at Langenschurs- 
dorf, near Waldenburg, in the principality of 
Schoenburg-Waldenburg, in the Kingdom of 


Doctor Carl 

Saxony; born there November 15, 1770, and 
died there January 13, in the year 1841. 
My mother was Frau Johanna Wilhelminia 
Walther, nee Zschenderlein, from Zwickau, 
in the Kingdom of Saxony, who died in the 
year 1851, at Kleinhartsmannsdorf, near 
Frauenstein, in Saxony, with my sister, the 
married Frau Pastor Julie Wilhelmi." 

From which it appears that Walther's 
father and grandfather both held the same 
pastorate, the latter having died in the place 
of his birth, the Langenschursdorf parson- 
age, where our Walther was born October 25, 
1811, just two years before Napoleon Bona- 
parte met his first defeat at the battle of Leip- 
zig (October 16-19, 1813). He was the 
eighth child and the fourth son in a family 
of twelve. His oldest brother died while an 
infant; the second at the age of six. The 
third brother, Otto Hermann Walther, true 
to family traditions, became his father's vicar 
at Langenschursdorf in 1834. He was born 
September 23, 1809, and died as the first 
pastor of Trinity Congregation, St. Louis, 
January 21, 1841; for he, too, had resigned 
the pastorate so long held by his father and 
grandfather to come to America with the 
Saxon colony in 1839. Otto Hermann 
Walther is said to have been an exceptionally 

anb gouty 

gifted and earnest man, a faithful servant 
of Christ, his Master, whom he preached 
with power and manifest blessing both in 
Langenschursdorf and the Saxon congrega- 
tion at St. Louis. When he had made up his 
mind to come to America, the Prince of 
Schoenburg-Waldenburg offered him pas- 
sage money for the round trip, if only he 
would promise to promptly return to his 
home. The real founder and leader of the 
St. Louis congregation during the trying days 
which followed the exposure of Stephan, his 
death, at the age of only thirty-one, was 
mourned by the entire colony. 

There was also a younger sister among 
the Saxon emigrants, Amalie Ernstine, who, 
in 1836, married Pastor E. G. W. Keyl, at 
that time pastor in Niederfrohua, Saxony, 
and afterwards pastor of the first Missouri 
Synod Church in Baltimore, Md. 

If heredity, environment and traditions 
make for character, there was no lack of 
them in the case of the Walthers. Carl 
Ferdinand Wilhelm could hardly have been 
anything else than a minister of the gospel, 
although his first youthful ambition was to 
become a great musician. Under the date of 
February 8, 1829, when he was a little over 
seventeen years old, he wrote in his diary: 


doctor Carl 

"I feel myself to be born for nothing but for 
music." We may judge of his father's char- 
acter by his attitude on this matter. "If you 
wish to become a musician," said the sturdy 
old gentleman, "you may see how you get 
along. But if you wish to study theology, I 
will give you a thaler every week." Walther 
studied theology, not for the sake of the 
thaler, but because God designed that he 
should be a chosen vessel for the upbuilding 
of His Church in America. Still, like Luther, 
Walther never lost his love of music. To 
the day of his death he delighted to sit 
at the keyboard of a church organ and lead 
the congregational singing of our magnificent 
chorale, which he usually played from mem- 
ory with no other help than the hymnal con- 
taining only the words of the hymns. 

There must also have been an apprecia- 
tion of Christian art in the parental home of 
Walther, as in most parsonages of Germany, 
for he never lost his love of literature and 
the biblical paintings of men like Bendemann, 
who, by the way, was also born in 1811. 
With all of this there was no lack of whole- 
some discipline and home training in the 
Langenschursdorf parsonage. A breach of 
good manners, like seating yourself unin- 
vited on that most important piece of furni- 

2ftrtf) anb goutf) 

ture in every German home, the living-room 
sofa, called for prompt and severe punish- 
ment, as Carl Ferdinand once found to his 
cost. On the other hand, silly affectation 
and effeminate manners in a young man were 
most repugnant to Walther's father, who 
was fond of telling his sons, "Ein junger 
mann viel leiden muss, 'eh' aus ihm wird 
em dominus" "A young man must bear 
many trials before out of him is made a Sir." 
The children had a mighty respect for their 
father, and they hardly dared accost him. 
Despite all outward severity, he was a most 
affectionate parent, who spared neither time 
nor money in his efforts to give his children 
a good education. A family anecdote illus- 
trates this side of his character. In Saxony, 
as in some other parts of Germany, "Pelz- 
nickel," or St. Nicholas, visits the homes be- 
fore Christmas to inquire if the children have 
been well-behaved and have studied their 
lessons, so that the Christ-child may bring 
them gifts. At these visits "Pelznickel" holds 
a sort of general family inquisition, and 
every child must not only answer his ques- 
tions, but recite a poem or a Scripture pas- 
sage as an evidence of its application at 
school. When little Ferdinand was three 
years old, at the occasion of this "Pelz- 


Doctor Carl 

nickel" visit, he bravely recited the verse 
taught as a prayer to all German children: 

"Christ's own blood and righteousness 
My beauty are, my glorious dress; 
With these I may before God stand 
And enter in the promised land." 

Papa Walther was so moved that he gave 
his son a dreier (a three-pfennig piece), 
which made a deep impression upon the boy. 
He thought this must indeed be a fine verse. 
Had not his father given him a dreier for 
saying it to "Pelznickel" ? Nor was he 
wrong, for this little rhyme, which was trans- 
lated and expanded into a hymn by John 
Wesley, contains the fundamental Lutheran 
doctrine of justification by faith. Walther 
never forgot the episode, and the verse ac- 
companied him all through life, even when 
the rationalistic environment of his early 
college days threatened to undermine his 
childhood faith. 

After having been taught the elementary 
branches by his father and the village school- 
master, he attended the city school at Hohen- 
stein, near Chemnitz, for two years (1819- 
1821), leaving this school in July, 1821, to 
enter the Gymnasium at Schnceberg, in the 

anb goutf) 

Saxon Erzgebirge. His brother-in-law, the 
learned Magister H. F. W. Schubert, who 
had married his elder sister, was Conrector 
(Associate Director) at this school, other- 
wise his parents would hardly have consented 
to send a child of ten years away from home 
to a boarding school, although in Germany, 
as in England, parents are very much less 
given to sentiment in these matters than we 
are. The German gymnasium combines our 
high school and college courses, and it is inter- 
esting to note that the so-called colleges of 
the Missouri Synod, which all bear the name 
"Concordia," are organized after this plan. 
Here, however, the students do not enter 
before they have completed their grammar 
school work, or after confirmation, which 
means at about the age of fourteen. 

Walther remained at the Schneeberg gym- 
nasium for eight years, or until September 
23, 1829. In other words, he finished his 
college course and was ready to enter the 
university before he had completed his 
eighteenth year. His graduation certificate 
was most complimentary, both as respects his 
conduct and his attainments. It testifies him 
to have been "especially worthy" ("impri- 
mis digmus"} for admission to the academic 
studies, and that he never merited the slight- 


Doctor Carl taltf)er 

est reproof. The pastor primarius and 
superintendent at Waldenburg, who wrote 
him a testimonial under date of November 
21, 1829, immediately after his matricula- 
tion at the University of Leipzig, recom- 
mends "the hopeful youth, Carl Ferdinand 
Walther, to the favorable attention of his 
honorable academic teachers, and of other 
high patrons and promoters of the sciences, 
as being both worthy and in need, as urgently 
as respectfully." 

There was no question of his being both. 
His father gave him his weekly "thaler," 
as he had promised when he expressed his 
disapproval of Ferdinand's musical ambi- 
tions. He also received a cord of wood 
from a certain foundation, established to aid 
a number of students in possession of good 
gymnasium reports. This was the limit of 
his regular support. How he managed to 
exist, unless some "high patron and pro- 
moter of the sciences" gave heed to the 
"urgent and respectful" solicitation' of the 
pastor primarius of Waldenburg, and came 
to his aid, is difficult to understand. His 
poverty must have been extreme, for he did 
not even own a Bible and he had no money 
to buy one. Surely this was an astounding 
predicament for a student of theology, and 

anfc Soutf) 

at the same time a remarkable characteriza- 
tion of the theological teaching of the uni- 
versity where he was being trained to be- 
come a minister of the gospel. Indeed, it 
is difficult for us to understand how a young 
man could come up to the university from 
the gymnasium without a Bible of his own. 
All becomes plain and simple when we think 
of the period. Farrar, in his famous Bamp- 
ton lectures on "The History of Free 
Thought," characterizes it when he says: 
"The present course of lectures relates to 
one of the conflicts exhibited in the history 
of the Church, viz., the struggle of the 
human spirit to free itself from the authority 
of the Christian faith." He should have 
said, "from the authority of the word of 
God." Sturdy old Claus Harms, arch- 
deacon at Kiel, who somehow always re- 
minds me of Hugh Latimer, had published 
his famous Ninety-five Theses on the eve of 
the three hundredth anniversary of the 
Reformation and struck a brave blow for 
Lutheran orthodoxy. But the religious 
movement, which we call Deism in England, 
Infidelity in France, and Rationalism in Ger- 
many still held sway. The confessional re- 
action against its blighting influences was not 
yet organized. Schleiermacher, whom Doc- 


Doctor Carl 

tor Krauth, in his "Conservative Reforma- 
tion,'" pronounces "the founder of the dis- 
tinctive theology of the nineteenth century" 
(page 148), represents only the speculative 
reaction against Rationalism. With this re- 
sult: all of the teachers at the Schneeberg 
gymnasium, during the attendance of 
Walther, with but a single exception, were 
outspoken rationalists. "I was eighteen 
years old when I left the gymnasium," he 
tells us, "and I had never heard a sentence 
taken from the word of God out of a believ- 
ing mouth. I had never had a Bible, neither 
a catechism, but a miserable 'Leitfaden' 
(guide or manual), which contained heathen 

It was impossible that the boy should alto- 
gether escape the influence of such a religious 
environment. Still he never lost the child- 
hood faith of his early home training in the 
Holy Scriptures as being God's revealed 
word, although, as he himself tells us, he had 
neither knowledge nor experience of that 
living faith which overcomes the devil, the 
world and the flesh. 

He speaks of this with affecting frankness. 
In an address, delivered in 1878, speaking 
of the historical faith which holds the Bible 
to be God's word, he says; "Through this, 


anb goutfj 

that a man holds the Holy Scriptures to be 
God's word merely because he was so taught 
by his parents, namely, through a purely 
human faith in the same, certainly no man 
can become righteous before God and saved. 
Nevertheless, such a purely human faith is 
an inexpressibly great treasure, yea, a pre- 
cious, costly gift of the prevenient grace of 
God. I may in this respect present myself 
to you as an example. My dear, God-fearing 
father taught me from childhood that the 
Bible is God's word. But I soon left my 
parental home in my eighth year to live 
in unbelieving circles. I did not lose this 
historical faith. It accompanied me through 
my life like an angel of God. But I spent 
my more than eight years of gymnasium life 

Walther got his Bible. One day, after he 
was a student of theology at Leipzig Uni- 
versity, he was debating with himself 
whether or not to purchase this book he so 
much desired to own. He had but a few 
"groschen" left of the paternal "thaler a 
week." If he spent them for a Bible, he 
might be compelled to go hungry for a few 
days. The temptation to defer the purchase 
was rather strong. Finally he said to him- 
self; "Why, I am spending the money for 


doctor Carl Waltfjer 

God's word; He will surely help me and not 
forsake me in my need." Nor was his faith 
shamed. The very next day a farmer from 
Langenschursdorf looked him up and in- 
formed him that, intending to come to Leip- 
zig, he had stopped at the parsonage to ask 
his father if he had any message for his son. 
Papa Walther at first said, "No, not any." 
Then, stopping to think a moment, he gave 
him a letter, which he was pleased to deliver. 
Walther opened his letter and found a 
"thaler." What is more, he had a stronger 
faith in Him whose promises cannot fail. 
And so, on December 9, 1829, we find this 
entry in his diary: "To-day I read in the 
Bible, namely, in the Book of the Acts, firstly 
in order to somewhat orientate myself there- 
in, for as yet very little is known to me of the 
apostles, and I can hardly repeat their 
twelve names; secondly, to edify myself by 
the examples of the workings and mani- 
festations of an unmovable faith." This 
looks promising. A "thaler" a week, a cord 
of wood, contentment in poverty, willingness 
to sacrifice, a desire for the word, a bit of 
Christian experience, a strengthening of 
faith, and a study of the heroic deeds of the 
holy men of God. After Acts comes Romans. 
Paul will teach us as he taught Luther what 

anb goutfj 

faith is, what it works and how it manifests 
itself. The Herr Studiosus is in a fair way 
to become a theologian. 


diopter 2 

itP OBninrmtment 

But how did this young man who felt him- 
self to be born for nothing else than for 
music make up his mind to become a student 
of theology and prepare himself to enter the 
holy ministry? 

His father, true to family traditions, 
wished his sons to become ministers. While 
he did not absolutely forbid, he gave no en- 
couragement to Ferdinand's desire to study 
music. Nor can the' "thaler a week" he 
promised him if he would study theology be 
looked upon as a sufficient inducement to 
persuade him to give up a cherished ambition. 
If need be, he could easily earn that and 
more by giving music lessons or playing with 
some orchestra. Neither his father's wishes 
nor the promise of support determined his 
choice. There was another and a far more 
honorable reason. His brother, Otto Her- 
mann, who had now studied theology for two 
years, coming home to spend his vacation, 
brought a number of recently published 
tracts and booklets with him, among them 
a biography of the famous J. F. Oberlin, 


ttj) Cnbtronment 

written by G. H. Schubert. The reading 
of this book made a profound impression 
upon Ferdinand Walther. He writes in his 
diary: "I am living quite happy, and philos- 
ophizing with my brother upon the most in- 
teresting occurrences of our lives, and read- 
ing, with real greed, the life of Pastor Ober- 
lin by Schubert; this has filled my whole be- 
ing and shown that the prospects which a 
theologian may have are the most beautiful, 
insomuch as he, if he only will, may create 
for himself a field of opportunity such as 
no other man, who chooses some other call- 
ing, may ever hope for. The anxious doubt, 
'Will you then some day secure an adequate 
support?' is now completely overcome; for I 
have imbibed out of this most precious book 
an immovable confidence in God and a firm 
faith in His providence and its workings 
upon our destiny, after I saw this awakened 
through the conversations with my dear, 
good brother." 

Can there be a finer testimony to the value 
of Christian biography? God teaches men 
through the Christian experiences of other 
men. God led Walther into the service of 
His Church through the reading of a little 
book on the life and work of a devoted 
Christian minister, who faithfully labored 


Doctor Carl talf)ter 

among the peasants of Steinthal in the 
Vosges Mountains. And so, after a brief 
vacation of several weeks, Carl Ferdinand 
Walther went to Leipzig in October, 1829, 
with his "dear, good brother," Otto Her- 
mann, to matriculate as a theological student. 
When Walther entered the university, the 
so-called "common rationalism," introduced 
into Germany by the speculative philosophy 
of Wolf, the importation of the works of 
the English Deists and the colony of French 
infidels established in Prussia by Frederick 
the Great, was at its height. Strauss pub- 
lished his celebrated work on the Life of 
Christ in 1835. Denying the revealed char- 
acter of Scripture and treating it as an ordi- 
nary history, rationalism explained away the 
supernatural element, such as miracles, by 
insisting that they were merely the results 
of oriental modes of speech. Eichborn, at 
Goettingen (1752-1827), applied this prin- 
ciple of interpretation to the Old Testament 
and insisted that the cloud of smoke at Mt. 
Sinai was a thunder-storm, and the shining 
of Moses' face a perfectly natural phenom- 
enon. Paulus of Jena extended this principle 
to the New Testament. According to him 
the transfiguration was but the confused 
recollection of sleeping men who had seen 


Jesus with two unknown friends in the beauti- 
ful light of early morning, the resurrection 
was the awakening of our Lord from a 
trance or the semblance of death. The teach- 
ing of these men made Jesus to be merely 
a wise and learned man, His miracles merely 
acts of skill or chance. As its name implies, 
rationalism put reason not merely above, but 
in the place of revelation; insisting that 
Christianity was not designed to teach divine 
mysteries but only to confirm the religious 
teaching of reason. No one, it insisted, 
ought ever to accept anything as true which 
was not capable of rational demonstration. 
Rationalism was thus destructive of all faith. 
It denied the doctrine of the Trinity. It re- 
garded the death of Christ as an historic 
event, the death of a moral martyr, who died 
for his convictions or as a symbol that sacri- 
fices were abolished. Veneration for the 
word of God was called "Bibliolatry." With 
this result: Christianity was reduced to a 
system of natural morality, or, at best, a 
kind of Socinianism. 

Preaching under rationalism became 
frankly practical and utilitarian. The great 
inexhaustible themes of the inspired word, 
repentance, sin, faith, justification, sanctifi- 
cation, salvation by grace were cast aside by 


Doctor Carl 

the men who preached to their congregations 
on themes which might have been suggested 
by the pithy sayings of Poor Richard's Al- 
manac. Nicolai, in his Sebaldus Nothanker, 
drew a faithful picture of the average 
rationalistic preacher, who knew how to 
make use of a Bible text "as a harmless 
means for impressing useful truths." Only 
by so doing was the "utility of the ministerial 
office" preserved. Thus Sebaldus Nothanker 
boasts that "he was very studious to preach 
to his peasant congregations to rise early in 
the morning, attend carefully to their cows, 
work in their fields and gardens as well as 
they could, and to do all this with the view 
of becoming comfortable and acquiring 
property." A shallow, selfish morality, in 
which prudence constituted the principal 
means, and temporal prosperity the great 
end of all life, was the unfailing theme of 
these preachers. There was quite a passion 
for elaborate sermons and sermon series for 
special classes of men. There were dis- 
courses against law suits and superstition, 
on the duties of servants, on health, etc. 
Thus Steinbrenner, in 1804, published a vol- 
ume of sermons on "The Art of Prolonging 
Human Life, According to Hufeland's 


The destructive effect of rationalism upon 
worship has often been described, for in- 
stance, by Alt, in his "Christlicher Cultus" 
(Vol. I, 319, etc.). That the liturgical 
forms of our Common Service, in which the 
heroic faith of the sixteenth century had 
given expression to its trust and emotions 
were bound to be exceedingly distasteful to 
these disciples of prosaic enlightenment 
hardly needs to be said. Where there was 
no faith in grace and a denial of the possi- 
bility of its reception, there were, as a matter 
of course, no means of grace. The sacra- 
ments were held to be nothing but empty 
ceremonies, to be performed by the enlight- 
ened minister only in deference to popular 
prejudice and emptied of their content and 
import. Since baptism was a superannuated 
institution, the enlightened minister felt him- 
self free to sprinkle or pour water upon the 
head of an infant in the name of "liberty, 
equality and fraternity," instead of baptiz- 
ing it in the name of the Father and the Son 
and the Holy Ghost. At the administration 
of the Lord's Supper, it was proposed that 
he use these words : "Enjoy this bread; may 
the spirit of worship rest upon you with 
full blessing. Enjoy a little wine; no vir- 
tuous power lies in this wine; it lies in you, 


Doctor Carl BMrtjer 

in God's doctrine, and in God," etc. (Huf- 
nagel, Liturgische Blaetter.) 

Ruthless hands were laid upon our grand 
old hymns. Their simplicity and poetic feel- 
ing were ridiculed. Why have hymns and 
hymn books at all? Why sing what is not 
literally true? Why, for instance, in Paul 
Gerhard's beautiful evening hymn, "Now 
rest beneath night's shadows," sing the line, 
"The world in slumber lies"? when every 
child knows, or should know, that when it 
is night in our hemisphere it is day in the 
other. If sung at all, we should say: "Now 
slumbers half the world." Moreover, be- 
sides being literally truthful, hymns like 
sermons, ought inculcate useful practical 
lessons on the husbanding of time, on friend- 
ship, frugality, temperance, etc. 

As for liturgical usages which were merely 
symbolical or emblematic, without special 
import for everyday life, they were to be 
abolished at any cost. Thus Nicolai, who, 
at Nuremberg, had seen lighted candles on 
the altar at communion, urged that such a 
thing could be of no use to anyone but a 
lamplighter or a sexton. That light might 
be a symbol of joy, or of the gospel, or of 
the Light of the world, never entered his 
enlightened head. 

itp <$nbironment 

The church year, with its festivals, also 
went by the board. These rest upon the facts 
of divine revelation. Since rationalism ren- 
dered the facts themselves doubtful, why 
have a festival to commemorate what, per- 
haps, had never occurred or was of no prac- 
tical value if it had occurred ? Why celebrate 
the birth, the sufferings, the death, the resur- 
rection or the ascension of Jesus? The es- 
sential thing was to look upon Jesus as the 
first great Rationalist, who opposed the 
superstitions and ordinances of the Phari- 
sees, and aided the sound reason of the peo- 
ple to assert itself against them. 

Even the Bible itself was amended, re- 
vised and re-edited. Luther's pithy, pregnant 
version no longer suited the taste of the day, 
"Men like Charles Frederick Bahrdt 
labored," Hagenbach says, "to make Moses, 
David, Isaiah, and even Christ Himself, 
speak as if they had been compelled to preach 
a trial sermon before the new counselors in 
the consistories." It would never do to say, 
"In the beginning God created the heaven 
and the earth." We must say with Simon 
Grynaeus of Basel, "God, besides whom 
there was nothing, made the beginning of 
all things by the creation of its material." 

Such was theological thought and teach- 


Doctor Carl taitfjer 

ing at the universities, such was the preach- 
ing and church life in the parishes of 
Germany when Walther began his study of 
theology. But it must not be overlooked 
that the causes which were to introduce new 
elements into the sluggish current of gen- 
eral public and theological thought, deter- 
mining the literary and religious movements 
of the nineteenth century, were already at 
work. Lessing, the pioneer of modern Ger- 
man literature, died in 1781. His name sug- 
gests the "Wolfenbuettel Fragments" and 
the tremendous controversy aroused by their 
publication. While his theology, together 
with that of his coadjutors, hardly rose 
above that of the more serious of English 
Deists, he at least made men realize that 
rationalism had not spoken the last word 
in literary and theological thought. Kant 
died in 1804. His great work, "Die Kritik 
der Reinen Vernunft," appeared in 1781. 
While its immediate effects were to reinforce 
the appeal to reason and to destroy revela- 
tion by leaving nothing to be revealed, its 
emphatic assertion of the law of duty gave 
depth to the moral perceptions, expelled 
French materialism and illuminism, and ex- 
posed the shallow superficiality of the 
Wolfian philosophy. Kant was followed by 

tt ofrtbirommnt 

Fichte, Jacobi, Schelling and Hegel, men 
who struggled to solve the problem of 
human knowledge from the side of the in- 
tellect and the emotions. Lessing was fol- 
lowed by Herder, Wieland, Goethe, Schiller 
and Jean Paul, men who at the court of 
Karl August at Weimar produced the golden 
age of German literature. The cold classi- 
cism of these writers was supplemented by 
the Romanticists, Stolberg, the Schlegels, 
Tieck and Novalis, who founded a school 
which Heinrich Heine extravagantly calls 
"Eine Passionsblume, die dem Blute Christi 
entsprossen ist." 

Besides these great movements in philoso- 
phy and literature, there was the magnificent 
outburst of patriotism which united all Ger- 
mans in a supreme effort to throw off the 
yoke of France and Napoleon. In this hour 
of deepest humiliation, unspeakable suffer- 
ing and agonized effort the heart of Ger- 
many, realizing the vanity of all earthly 
things and the utter hopelessness of unaided 
human effort, turned, humble and contrite, 
to the God of its fathers for strength and 
succor. And the old faith, which still lived 
in the hearts of the common people, who had 
refused to give up their old Predigt-and 
Erbauungs-buecher for the silly, superficial 


Doctor Carl 

disquisitions of their Sebaldus Nothankers, 
rose up to have its say at the celebration of 
the three hundredth anniversary of the 
Reformation through the theses of sturdy 
old Claus Harms "Propst zu Kiel." Here is 
what they said : "With the idea of a progres- 
sive reformation, in the manner in which it 
is now understood, Lutheranism will be re- 
formed back into heathenism" (No. 3). "In 
the sixteenth century the pardon of sins cost 
money after all; in the nineteenth it may be 
had without money, for people help them- 
selves to it" (No. 21 ). The movement which 
was to give the Church such names as Heng- 
stenberg, Rudelbach, Kliefoth, Harless, De- 
litzsch, Kurtz, Schmid, Bengel and Koestlin 
had set in. 

But in 1829, at Leipzig, this was not yet 
noticeable. The supernatural rationalism of 
Professor and Superintendent Heinrich Gott- 
lob Tzschirner, who died in 1828, the year 
before Ferdinand Walther entered, still held 
sway. Tzschirner, after some manner, be- 
lieved in a supernatural revelation, but held 
to the supremacy of reason; occupying a posi- 
tion not unlike Locke's in the "Reasonable- 
ness of Christianity." But two men of the 
entire faculty, the Professors August Hahn 
and R. W. Lindner, Sen., taught the doctrine 

it Environment 

of faith, and they did it, so Professor Guen- 
ther says, "schwaechlich" which, no doubt, 
means with becoming weakness and meek- 

No man can altogether escape the in- 
fluences of his environment. No man can 
rise superior to it, taking and assimilating 
what it may have to offer for his develop- 
ment, unless the grace of God guides and 
directs his footsteps. Lacking such gracious 
guidance, Walther might have become a 
famous pulpit orator, like Francis Volkmar 
Reinhard, the principal court preacher at 
Dresden, or his successor, Christopher Fried- 
rich von Ammon. Their sermons were un- 
qualifiedly recommended to young theolo- 
gians of the time as model discourses. To- 
day both of them are forgotten. They deserve 
to be, for to-day no Lutheran preacher would 
imitate Reinhard, who, preaching on the 
miraculous feeding of the multitude, makes 
the point that under ordinary circumstances, 
it would have been difficult to keep such a 
crowd in order without the help of the police, 
and then goes on to preach on "The silent 
power which virtue exerts by its presence." 
God had another and a different work for 
Walther to do, and He chose His own means 
to fit him for this work, 


djapttr 3 

of Ptobttrence 

Not long before Walther entered the uni- 
versity a little group of students, prompted 
by the testimony of several believing laymen 
and led by an older candidate, named Kuehn, 
had formed a circle which met regularly for 
mutual edification through prayer, the read- 
ing of the Scriptures and the free discussion 
of the things which pertain to our salvation. 
Ferdinand Walther was introduced to this 
circle, in all probability by his brother, Otto 
Hermann, who was one of its members. 
Other members, who played their part in 
the founding and upbuilding of the Missouri 
Synod, were the pastors J. R. Buenger, Theo- 
dore Brohm and Ottomar Fuerbringer. 
Pastor E. G. W. Keyl had been called to the 
congregation at Niederfrohna-bei-Penig, in 
the valley of the Mulde, the same year Ferdi- 
nand Walther entered at Leipzig. Walther 
speaks of having visited him in the company 
of other students, in 1830, to hear him 
preach and attend a confirmation service at 
his church. The Candidate Kuehn, men- 
tioned above as the leader of the group of 

Heading* of 

Leipzig students, became pastor of a church 
at Lunzenau, in the neighborhood. He died 
suddenly of scarlet fever, August 24, 1832, 
after a short period of blessed and fruitful 
service in the Master's vineyard. The simple 
people of his congregation were inclined to 
think that he had been poisoned by the ene- 
mies of the gospel. When Keyl heard of 
his death he shed tears, and said, "Oh, the 
mighty in Israel are fallen!" This Candi- 
date Kuehn must have been a remarkable 
man, and his untimely death was sincerely 
mourned both by the faithful Christians of 
the Muldenthal and the student group at 
Leipzig, whose members looked up to him 
as a spiritual father. 

Professor F. W. Lindner, following the 
example of August Hermann Francke, at 
Halle, for a time privately conducted a so- 
called collegium philobiblicum for these 
students, expounding the Scriptures and di- 
recting their efforts at practical sermonizing. 
He seems to have had little spiritual influence 
upon them, which is not surprising, when 
we remember that in 1831 he published a 
thick volume against the Lutheran doctrine 
of the Lord's Supper. Walther, who men- 
tions this fact in his biography of the de- 
ceased Pastor Buenger, says of Professor 


Doctor Carl 

August Hahn, that while attacking ration- 
alism he by no means taught pure Christian 
truth. The other professors, Tittmann, 
Theile, Illgen, Winzer and Goldhorn, were 
all "common rationalists," with the lone ex- 
ception of Tittmann. Among the professors 
heard by Walther at Leipzig, was the cele- 
brated George Benedict Winer, whose 
"Grammatik des Neu-testamentlichen Sprach- 
idioms" is still indispensable to any man 
who would read the New Testament in 
the original. Fortunately, it has been 
translated into English. Doctor Walther 
pronounced his "Biblisches Realwoerter- 
buch" "a stupendously learned work" (em 
stupend gelehrtes werk"). His acquaint- 
ance with Franz Delitzsch, made at this time, 
ripened into the intimacy of closest friend- 
ship. The two men regularly corresponded 
until the day of Walther's death. 

None of the Leipzig professors paid any 
attention to these students after Professor 
Lindner gave up his collegium philobibli- 
cum. They were left to themselves, and, 
since "being awakened out of sleep they 
walked honestly as in the day, striving to 
put on the Lord Jesus Christ," they were 
called upon to endure no little petty persecu- 
tion at the hands of those of their fellow- 


Ueabingg of Probftence 

students who felt themselves more at home 
at a Kommers (sociable) than in a private 
religious gathering. Despised as contempt- 
ible hypocrites or pitied as unfortunate and 
misled religious enthusiasts, they were hated 
and cast out by the unbelieving world, which 
quite often meant separation from their next 
of kin. Walther speaks of there being but 
one home in Leipzig open to them, where 
they were understood and appreciated, and 
which they never visited without finding re- 
freshment for body and soul; the home of 
Steuerrevisor Barthal and his noble Christian 
wife, who acted the part of a Frau Ursula 
Cotta to these young men. Other people 
called them Mystics, Pietists, Devotees, Ob- 
scurants, Bigots, and similar less flattering 
names, avoiding them as one would an in- 
fectious disease. 

That they faithfully attended all required 
lectures, despite the attitude of their pro- 
fessors, need hardly be said. They could 
have absented themselves without inviting 
criticism, for at a German university one has 
only to enroll, pay the established fees and 
pass examinations. That they learned very 
much Biblical theology from them is open to 
question. Indeed, Pastor Keyl remarks in 
his diary that he made his first acquaintance 


Doctor Carl 

with Lutheran theology through his associa- 
tion with an elderly Leipzig shoemaker, 
named Goetsching. "My intercourse with 
this old experienced man," says Keyl, "was 
of great benefit to me during my university 
years. He had a good knowledge of Luth- 
eran doctrine; had read much in Luther's 
writings and the Book of Concord; had fine 
comparisons, rejected the Herrnhuter, etc. 
I also learned to know a similar man in 
Frohna, namely, Father Schneider, of Ober- 
frohna, who greatly benefited me." When 
prophets fail to wait on prophecy God per- 
fects His praise out of the mouths of babes 
in Christ. 

The real spiritual leader of this group of 
young believers was Candidate Kuehn. Hav- 
ing come to full assurance of faith and the 
joy of believing only after a long period of 
spiritual struggle under the most agonizing 
conviction of sin and unspeakable terror of 
God's holy law, he attempted to lead the 
young men who sought his guidance in the 
same path he himself had gone; making his 
religious experiences the measure and test 
of every other man's. He overlooked that 
our Lord, who in the days of His flesh, as 
Mark tells us, took the poor deaf mute aside 
from the multitude, accommodating Him- 


Heautngs of Probtbence 

self to his needs, graciously deals with us as 
individuals ; and that the religious experience 
of no two men will ever be in every partic- 
ular exactly the same. He insisted upon try- 
ing to convince his young friends that their 
Christianity never rested upon a firm founda- 
tion, so long as they had not, like him- 
self, experienced the keenest sorrow for sin 
and the very terrors of hell in agonizing 
struggles of repentance. The inevitable re- 
sult followed. As Walther, speaking of 
Buenger, himself and others, tells us it was 
"a general change from an evangelical- 
joyful to a legalistic-gloomy Christianity." 

The books of devotion most used by these 
young believers were the writings of Arndt, 
Francke, Bogatzky, Spener, Werner, Schade, 
Rambach, Steinmetz, Fresenius, and others 
of like character. It will be noticed that 
they are all of the pietistic school, the weak- 
ness of which consisted in its insistence upon 
a disregard of correct doctrinal statement 
in order to urge a religion of the emotions 
and practical benevolence. Extremely stated, 
their position was this : It matters not what 
you believe; all depends upon how you feel 
and what you do. We are very familiar with 
it in this country and it might be well to re- 
member that it was the forerunner of the 


Doctor Carl 

common or "vulgar" rationalism described 
in the preceding chapter. But even the writ- 
ings of these men were not read and ac- 
cepted without reserve. 

"The less a book invited to faith," says 
Walther, "and the more legalistically it in- 
sisted upon contrite brokenness of heart and 
upon foregoing complete mortification of the 
old man, the better a book we held it to be. 
Even such writings we usually read only so 
far as they described the griefs and exer- 
cises of repentance; when a description of 
faith and comfort for the penitent followed, 
we usually closed the book, for, so we 
thought, this is as yet nothing for us." 

Under these circumstances it is not sur- 
prising that Walther found himself in deep 
spiritual distress and conflict of soul. Like 
the law and the gospel, contrition and faith 
may, and, indeed, must be sharply defined 
and separated, especially when it is a ques- 
tion of accurate dogmatic definition. But 
when it comes to Christian experience, any 
attempt to arbitrarily separate the two and 
fix the exact moment where contrition ceases 
to afflict and faith begins to comfort is a 
difficult and dangerous undertaking; espe- 
cially when a man refuses to accept the com- 
fort of the gospel because he imagines that 


Ueabmgg of 

he has not yet attained to a sufficient degree 
of penitence. What Walther says of his 
friend Buenger, in the beautiful little biog- 
raphy he wrote after his death, no doubt ap- 
plies to Walther himself : "He also not only 
gave himself, body and soul, to his Lord 
and Saviour, but he soon after also fell into 
dire distress of conscience, like several 
others of his student companions and fellows 
in faith. Like these he now tortured him- 
self day and night to reach the highest possi- 
ble degree of penitence and contrition, with- 
out, however, being able to attain that for 
which he strove." To which Walther re- 
marks: "He who now, without first being 
driven into self-effort (Eigenwirken} , is led 
to Christ without any byway, usually fails to 
realize how great a grace God thereby shows 

These two young friends, Buenger and 
Walther, not only shared the same spiritual, 
but also similar bodily afflictions. Both con- 
tracted some affection of the chest or lungs, 
which, from all accounts, seems to have been 
incipient tuberculosis. At any rate, both 
seemed to have been marked for an early 
death. They would have been glad to die 
if only they might have been sure of their 
salvation. But at that time Romans 8 was 


Doctor Carl t^altfjet 

a sealed book to them. 

Most of the men who belonged to their 
circle had completed their studies or left 
the university. Their leaving threw Walther, 
Buenger and Brohm together, and after 
Brohm, who lived with Buenger, also left, 
Walther and Buenger became inseparables 
"Leidensgenossen" Walther says, which 
we might translate "companions in misery 
of body and soul." "As distress of soul pre- 
vented convalescence of the body, so disease 
of the body prevented convalescence of the 
soul," thus runs Walther's description of 
their mutual state. 

During this time Buenger and Walther 
especially enjoyed the Christian hospitality 
of the Barthel family. The head of the 
family, who gave up a government position 
to come to America for his faith's sake, was 
Treasurer of the Missouri Synod until his 
death in 1859. His noble Christian help- 
meet outlived her husband many years, fall- 
ing asleep in the Lord in 1881. Walther 
preached her funeral sermon and took occa- 
sion to publicly express his deep and abiding 
gratitude to her who had befriended him in 
his youth. "Fifty years have just elapsed," 
said Walther, and we can feel grateful affec- 
tion quivering through every word, "Fifty 


of Probfrence 

years have just elapsed since I had the great 
good fortune to be introduced by a godly 
friend to the family of the deceased. A 
youth without God lay behind and since a 
short time being come to the knowledge of 
Jesus Christ a new, never anticipated world 
opened itself to me. I saw a truly Christian 
household, a family in which Jesus was all 
in all, in which the word of God was the 
daily meat and drink of souls, wielding the 
scepter in all things, in which the Lord was 
being served without ceasing, in which, there- 
fore, Jesus' heavenly peace was poured out 
upon all members of the family. Thus I 
here found my spiritual parents, a father in 
Christ, a mother in Christ, who now cared 
for me spiritually and bodily as for a son. 

"I just at that time was in deep spiritual 
affliction, was famished in body and soul, and 
wrestled, doubting my salvation, with de- 
spair. No praying, no pleading, no weep- 
ing, no fasting, no wrestling seemed able to 
help; the peace of God had departed from 
my soul. Terrified by the law, that verse 
resounded in my heart day and night : 

"'Nur dies, dies liegt mir an, 
Das ich nicht wissen kaim, 
Ob ich ein wahrer Christ 
Und du raein Jesus bist.' 


Doctor Carl 

("This, only this is my care, that I cannot 
know if I am a true Christian and Thou art 
my Jesus.") 

"It was then especially that the dear de- 
parted carried me in her motherly heart. 
Then, as often as I crossed her threshold, 
her lips not only ran over with words of 
evangelical consolation for me, but she wres- 
tled day and night in fervent intercession 
with God for me, the strange youth. And, 
behold! God heard her supplication; I at 
last came unto peace in Christ; and now a 
bond of blessed fellowship in Christ em- 
braced us which nothing could rend until her 

"Oh, how I rejoice at an opportunity to 
publicly testify to this! But I rejoice far 
more that I may some day, before the throne 
of the Lamb and the face of all angels and 
the elect, give thanks with a perfect heart 
to her for all that she did for poor miser- 
able me." 

Was ever a finer testimonial to a mother 
and helper in Christ written or spoken by 
any man? Could any son be more deeply 
grateful to his own mother ? And yet 
Walther owed his deliverance from spiritual 
anguish not to her, but to Pastor Martin 
Stephan, the leader of the Saxon emigrants 


Utabtngg of Probtbence 

to America, whom he was compelled to ex- 
pose as having been guilty of gross immoral- 
ity shortly after the colony reached Perry 
County, Missouri. What this cost so grate- 
ful and affectionate a nature as Walther's 
can, perhaps, never be told. 

Walther describes his appeal to Stephan 
and the help he received in a footnote to his 
biography of Buenger. His state may be 
best described by the familiar words, "tossed 
about with many a conflict, many a doubt; 
fightings and fears within, without." Now 
why, it may be asked, did he not go to 
some conscientious and experienced pastor? 
Why did he not act upon the advice of our 
Catechism: "Those, however, whose con- 
science is heavily burdened, or who are trou- 
bled and tempted, the confessor will know 
how to comfort and incite to faith with more 
passages of Scripture"? According to his 
own statement he did, but he failed to find 
what he sought. The "confessors," or pas- 
tors, it would seem, were unable to "com- 
fort and incite to faith with passages of 
Scripture," which is another characteristic of 
rationalism and its miserable theology. 
Whom he sought he does not say. The 
student group had at first attended St. Peter's 
Church, where there was a believing pastor, 


Doctor Carl 

named F. A. Wolf. Afterwards they pre- 
ferred to worship at the Orphans' and Peni- 
tentiary Church, where Pastor F. M. Haen- 
sel preached; who, while not such an ele- 
gant and clever pulpit orator as Wolf, de- 
livered sermons with a fuller biblical con- 
tent. Walther may have gone to either of 
these two men. If he did, they were unable to 
help him. What he tells us is this: Only 
after no one seemed able to advise and help 
him, and when the believing pastors to whom 
he appealed one and all urged him to look 
to Stephan, did he write him a letter, asking 
for the comfort of God's word, without, 
however, placing any special confidence in 
Stephan or cherishing much hope of finding 
what he sought. When he received Stephan' s 
reply to his inquiry, he did not break the seal 
of the letter before kneeling in prayer and 
humbly asking God to graciously prevent 
his receiving false comfort, should any such 
be contained in the letter. But after reading 
it, he felt himself to be lifted up out of the 
depths of hell to the blessedness of heaven. 
His tears of penitent grief became tears of 
believing joy. Stephan showed him that he 
had long experienced the contrition he sought 
out of the law, that he lacked nothing but 
faith; nothing save this, that he, like the 


man fallen among thieves, submit himself 
to the saving arms of the heavenly Good 
Samaritan. Walther, speaking of himself 
in the third person, says: "He could not 
resist; he had to come to Jesus. And now 
the peace of God entered into his heart. 
There he vividly experienced what private 
absolution means to a heart-affrighted 
sinner. While Stephan in his letter had not 
formally spoken absolution to him, he had 
personally applied the gospel to him, where- 
in the real essence of private absolution con- 
sists." In other words, private absolution is 
but the personal application of the gospel, 
a saying of "Thy sins be forgiven thee" to 
the individual, after God by the gospel has 
said it to the world, redeemed by the aton- 
ing death of His Son. 

That Walther was inexpressibly grateful 
to Stephan appears from an incident also re- 
lated by himself. About half a year later 
Konsistorialrath and Superintendent, Doctor 
Rudelbach, asked Walther to call on him at 
Glauchau, and informed him that he in- 
tended to propose him as tutor for his godly 
count. Doctor Rudelbach demanded that 
he break off all relations with Stephan. 
Walther told him at length what had led 
him to Stephan and what he owed him, ask- 


Doctor Carl 

ing, "Shall I forsake a man who, by God's 
grace, has saved my soul?" Deeply moved, 
Doctor Rudelbach replied, "No, my dear 
Walther, you must not forsake him ; in God's 
name maintain your relations with him, but 
guard against all worship of man." 

Having found healing for his soul, 
Walther also found healing for his body. 
Interrupting his studies during the winter of 
183 1-32, he spent half a year at home. Com- 
plete rest and fresh air, combined with lov- 
ing care and the use of a simple home rem- 
edy, so far restored his health that he was 
able to return to Leipzig after the Easter 
vacation of 1832 to complete his theological 
studies, without, however, as he wrote Otto- 
mar Fuerbringer, the slightest hope of ever 
being physically able to take up the work of 
the holy ministry. His friend Buenger again 
shared his experience. He, too, found peace 
of soul through Stephan, and a cure of his 
bodily illness through rest and treatment at 
the Radeburg baths near Dresden. Neither 
of them, Walther says, even remotely antici- 
pated God's designs toward them, and that 
neither their bodily nor their spiritual illness 
was a sickness unto death but unto life, 
and the real preparation for the service in 
which God would some day use them in His 

Ueafcingg of Profcftente 

Church. "For he whom God would use in 
His kingdom, He first makes to be undone 
in order that he may be nothing but an empty 
instrument of God; and he and all Christians 
must say, "Not this poor impotent sinner, 
but God Himself has done this thing." 

During the time he spent at home seeking 
his health, the works of Martin Luther, 
which were in his father's library (a rather 
unusual thing in those days) fell into Wal- 
ther's hands. Lacking other occupation, 
he absorbed himself in their study. The in- 
evitable result followed. From that time 
dates his living conviction of the sole scrip- 
tural character of the doctrine of the Luth- 
eran Church and the necessity of its posi- 
tive confession^ which never again left him. 

He had not previously recognized this 
truth. There was at first no discussion of 
doctrinal differences in the Leipzig student 
circle. As its members grew in grace and the 
knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they 
began to ask themselves, "What are we? 
Are we Lutherans? Or Reformed? Or 
United?" A division and separation fol- 
lowed, although the most of them soon real- 
ized that the faith which the Holy Spirit, 
through their prayerful searching of the 
Scriptures, had sealed in their hearts was 


Doctor Carl 

none other than the saving faith confessed 
by the Lutheran Church, which they had ac- 
cepted before ever they knew by which 
Church this truth was fully held and pro- 
claimed. After this profound study of 
Luther's writings in the Langenschursdorf 
parsonage (a study he continued all his life) 
Walther not only fully realized this, but he 
also realized another truth which he ever 
aimed to impress upon his students: "The 
nearer Luther, the better a theologian." 

He completed his university studies in 
1832, and came home to prepare for the 
September examinations. His period of trial 
and preparation was past; the period of 
sound and vigorous development about to 
begin. Had he not found salvation in Christ? 
Had he not found health of soul and body? 
Had he not in Luther found a trustworthy 
and inspiring guide? Had he not found in 
his own religious experience the truth of 
Luther's axiom, "Oratio, meditatio et tenta- 
tio fadunt theologum" ("Prayer, study and 
trial make a theologian") ? Through the 
gracious leadings of Providence the worthy 
"Herr Studiosus" had become a worthy 
"Herr Kandidat." 

In those days a student of theology, be- 
fore he could have any hope of being called 
to minister to a congregation was required 
to pass two examinations after the comple- 
tion of his university work. The first was 
the examen pro licentia concionandi (the ex- 
amination for the license or permission to 
preach) ; the other, to which no one was ad- 
mitted before two years after passing his ex- 
amination pro licentia, was the examen pro 
candidatura, or the examination for the 
taking of holy orders. The examination pro 
licentia was taken before a commission 
composed of a number of professors of the 
university theological faculty, and qualified 
the student who passed it to preach upon in- 
vitation in any congregation in the Kingdom 
of Saxony. The examination pro candi- 
datura was taken before the consistory of 
the kingdom, and qualified the young man 
who passed it to stand as candidate for a 
call to any congregation of the Church of 
Saxony. The interval which necessarily 
elapsed between the examination pro licentia 


Doctor Carl 

and the examination pro candidatura, or 
the actual call to a congregation, was usually 
spent in tutoring in the homes of the nobil- 
ity or the wealthier citizens. If the author- 
ities of the Church had designedly planned 
to break the spirit of their candidates for 
the ministry no better scheme could have 
been devised, unless it were that so vividly 
described by Macaulay as having been in 
vogue in England toward the close of the 
seventeenth century, when every "coarse and 
ignorant country squire, who thought that 
it belonged to his dignity to have grace said 
every day at his table by an ecclesiastic in 
full canonicals, found means to reconcile 
dignity with economy" (Vol. I, p. 255). He 
usually succeeded by making his chaplain a 
sort of upper house servant, who was ex- 
pected to marry a housemaid when he ob- 
tained a benefice. The condition of the clergy 
was never quite that bad in Germany. The 
German has too much respect for education 
and the Beamtenstand (every minister was 
a state official) to attempt to reduce his min- 
isters to such a state of plebeian subservience. 
Still, a system which made the candidate 
wait for years before he could really enter 
the service of the Church, and while wait- 
ing made him depend for his daily bread 


upon the goodwill or whims of some man 
who might or might not be a Christian, and 
who merely aimed to obtain cheap and effi- 
cient home tutoring for his sons before send- 
ing them to the Militaer-schule, or gymna- 
sium, was not calculated to develop or 
foster independence of character in the 
future leaders of the Church. Quite the re- 
verse. At a period when the ministerial 
office was held in low esteem (as was the 
case under rationalism) and when the so- 
called Patronats-system gave certain men 
who belonged even to the lesser nobility the 
power of calling or appointing ministers to 
certain congregations situated on their es- 
tates, regardless of the wishes of their future 
parishioners, coupled with the further fact 
that "hope deferred maketh the heart sick," 
the position of the candidate was often a 
most trying one. If his patron was a Chris- 
tian gentleman, the tutor was doubtless 
treated as a respected member of the family. 
If not, he might be treated as a menial, or, 
if he stooped to accommodate himself to the 
wishes and whims of his patron, as a retainer 
who, perhaps, ranked with the Oekonom, or 
farm manager. In any event, the position 
was an unenviable one for any man of real 
independence of character, and the tempta- 


Doctor Carl WsAtfytt 

tion to escape from it by currying favor with 
the Konsistorium, or some Kirchenpatron 
was constantly present. True, a man of 
Walther's conscientious character and posi- 
tive convictions could never stoop to any- 
thing of this kind, no matter how irksome 
his position as tutor or Hauslehrer might 
become. On the other hand, the desire to 
begin the real work of his life must have 
been very keen. Having believed, he "could 
not but speak the things which he had seen 
and heard" (Acts 4:20). And yet, while 
at home, preparing for the examination pro 
Licentia Concionandi, he writes a letter to 
his brother expressing doubt as to whether 
his conscience will permit him to enter the 
service of the State Church of Saxony. He 
says : 

CHURSDORF, August , 1833. 

Little time as I have, I must inform you of several 
matters in writing, since Wilhelm is returning. 

The most important of them for me is that I re- 
ceived the notice to attend the examination last Thurs- 
day, namely, for the I3th and I4th of September, where 
I am to take the written; the oral is to take place on 
September igth. It now lies with you if you care to 
be present (on the ipth), which would certainly please 
me very much; you will, of course, consider your own 
circumstances; I am not asking a sacrifice. Moreover, 
with the notice I also received the text for the sermon 
and the catechization. The text for the sermon is 


Acts 26 : 24-29. I am wavering between the two themes : 
"I. The preaching of the divine word before those who 
are not obedient to its operations. . . . II. The ope- 
rations of the testimony of Jesus to those 'who refuse 
to be obedient to the power of the divine word.' " The 
text for the catechization is 2 Thess. 3 : 10, n, with the 
prescribed theme: "Faith in the divine support of 
human life does not relieve us of the duty of our- 
selves caring for our support." Now, good counsel is 
scarce; the working out refuses to go forward; assist 
me with your prayers. I depend upon it! . 

Have you also read the motion of the minister, 
Doctor Miller, in the Landtags report, looking toward 
the appointment of a spiritual college (collegium) to 
formulate the dogma of the future Saxon Church, 
with instructions and advice to formulate it so "as 
to secure for it the largest acceptance on the part of 
the educated of the people"? God seems about to visit 
heavy judgments upon the Church of Saxony; in this 
fashion we may never be able, at least in Saxony (in- 
cluding Schoenburg), to enter the holy ministry. Who 
can permit himself to be pledged upon such symbols 
without hazarding his salvation? 

In this letter he also speaks of Pastor 
Keyl's having been forbidden by the Chief 
Consistory (Oberkonsistorium) to preach 
the doctrine of original sin and his appeal 
to the higher courts, with the statement that 
he at his ordination had been pledged upon 
the Symbolical Books of the Lutheran 
Church at the very place where he was now 
being constrained to recant. This legal ac- 
tion and appeal cost poor Keyl no less than 
eighty thalers, which he was compelled to 


Doctor Carl 

pay out of his meager income. 

No wonder Walther closed this letter: 
"Farewell, and reply soon to thy hard- 
pressed brother, F. W." 

There is another, perhaps an additional 
explanation of that word "hard-pressed" 
(bedraengt) . Conditions at home were not 
any too pleasant. His father, now that his 
son had completed his studies, perhaps felt 
with right that the time had come for Ferdi- 
nand to support himself, with which feeling 
he was doubtless in fullest accord. What 
was of far greater weight was the dissatis- 
faction Walther's father felt with the posi- 
tive theological position taken by his two 
sons, Hermann and Ferdinand, together 
with his son-in-law, Pastor E. G. W. Keyl, 
of Niederfrohna. Their course seemed 
most unwise and inexpedient to Papa 
Walther, who, while not a rationalist, never- 
theless, like so many others, accommodated 
himself without protest to his surroundings. 
While Ferdinand was preparing for his final 
examinations he strongly urged him not to 
speak out so openly against the rationalistic 
doctrines of the Leipzig professors, for he, 
otherwise, would surely be made to fail and 
be rejected as a candidate. Plainly the posi- 
tion of the two boys over against their father, 


whom they dearly loved and highly re- 
spected, was not an easy one. One day, at 
one of these discussions, they said to him, 
"Judgment day will reveal it," namely, that 
the pure doctrine of the Lutheran Church is 
the saving truth. What invited the remark 
we are not told. 

Under these circumstances it is not sur- 
prising that Ferdinand Walther in a letter 
dated January 15, 1834, should write to his 
friend Brohm : "My outward condition is not 
an enviable one. I therefore pray God to 
soon lead me to some other place ; must, 
however, expect to find the same outward 
and inward foes everywhere." 

When the position of tutor in the home 
of Herr Rath Friedemann Loeber, at 
Cahla, in Altenburg, was offered him (it 
would seem through the influence of Candi- 
date Brohm) he made arrangements to ac- 
cept it with serious misgivings as to his com- 
petency and a prayerful reliance upon the 
gracious help of God. As for his being 
competent, the following episode of his uni- 
versity days may serve as an illustration and 
proof: During December, 1830, he was pri- 
vately instructing two boys in the S - 
family at Leipzig. One day among the 
papers of Edward S. he by chance found the 


Doctor Carl 

lines, written in the boy's own hand: "I soon 
came away from Mr. K. to Mr. Walther, 
to whom I owe all my salvation. Before I 
came to him I neither knew myself to be a 
sinner nor anything of Christ and His grace ; 
also nothing of the Bible. I owe all this to 
my present teacher; I, as a poor sinful mor- 
tal, can never repay him; God will reward 
him for having guided a soul to Him in 
heaven." Upon reading this Walther wrote 
in his diary: "God, great, gracious, merciful 
God, thanks be to Thee, that Thou hast not 
despised to suffer Thy Spirit to be effective 
in this child; for this laud, thanks, praise 
and honor to Thee in all eternity. O Lord 
Jesus, perform the work which Thou hast 
so gloriously begun; let nothing pluck him 
out of Thine hand. Help him unto Thine 
heavenly kingdom. Amen." 

From which it would appear that the 
Loeber family, if it desired not only an edu- 
cation but a Christian training for its chil- 
dren, was to be complimented upon having 
secured the services of an unusually com- 
petent Hauslehrer. Herr Rath Friedemann 
Loeber was the oldest brother of the sainted 
Pastor G. H. Loeber, who came to America 
with the Saxon colony in 1839, and who was 
afterwards pastor of the congregation at 



Altenburg, Perry County, Missouri. There 
was a younger brother, August Loeber, 
whose children were also taught by Walther, 
among them Richard Loeber, who became 
court preacher in Dresden, Saxony, where 
they have two court churches, one Lutheran, 
a relic of the old city, and the other Roman 
Catholic, for the present reigning house. 
When they open the sessions of their "Land- 
tag," or Diet, they have services in both 
churches; the Lutheran representatives at- 
tending the one, the Roman Catholic court 
the other. 

Walther came to the Loeber family at 
Easter time, 1834, and remained with them 
until the end of November, 1836. G. H. 
Loeber at the time was pastor of a church 
at Eichenberg, near Cahla, and Walther 
availed himself of the opportunity to culti- 
vate an intimate friendship with a man who, 
though considerably older than himself, was 
among the first to appreciate and look up to 
Walther in the trying days which followed 
the exposure of Stephan. The eldest brother, 
with whom Walther lived while he was the 
tutor of the Loeber children, did everything 
in his power to make the young Candidate's 
position in his house agreeable and pleasant. 
Walther describes him as a man who was 


Doctor Carl l^altfjer 

in no way opposed to Christianity, but who, 
in his youth, had imbibed certain rational- 
istic ideas which made him question the di- 
vine inspiration and truth of many things 
contained in the Scriptures. He, for in- 
stance, held that certain stars or planets are 
inhabited, and that any statement in Gen- 
esis which conflicted with this idea was surely 
a private opinion of Moses, and not a 
part of divine revelation. The frequent dis- 
cussions on this and similar topics, however, 
were never permitted to mar the feeling of 
mutual respect and esteem which existed be- 
tween Walther and his "Herr Principal," as 
he calls him a feeling which extended to 
all members of the Loeber family, and con- 
tinued after Walther came to America. In- 
stead of being a period of trial, the stay of 
Walther at the Loeber home seems to have 
been a time of rest and refreshment before 
the coming storm, which set in when the 
"Herr Kandidat" became "Herr Pastor" 
at Braunsdorf, Saxony, Walther' s first 


Chapter 5 

CaU anb Orbinatton 

Walther took the examination pro candi- 
datura before the "High Oberkonsistorium" 
at Dresden, in the fall of 1836, two years 
after he left the university. He was twenty- 
five years old at the time. He does not say 
what mark the "High Oberkonsistorium," or 
"Exalted Board of Examiners," gave him, 
but we may safely assume that he here again 
shared experiences with his friend Buenger, 
whom, in April of the following year, after 
a most severe examination, they gave a mark 
of "genuegend cum asterisco" or "slightly 
more than satisfactory." It stands to reason 
that the uncompromising Lutheranism of 
these young men was not calculated to im- 
press a board of examiners whose every 
member was an outspoken rationalist. Ac- 
cordingly, while the thoroughness of their 
preparation and equipment for the sacred 
office could not be denied or called into ques- 
tion by the "High Oberkonsistorium," its 
members could not refrain from expressing 
the hope which Herr Superintendent G. Chr. 
Grosse held with respect to Buenger, of 


Doctor Carl 

whom he said, in a testimonial dated Janu- 
ary 20, 1837 : "It may be hoped that he, as 
he enters more into business life (das Ge- 
schaeftsleben} will become milder as regards 
his system of dogmatics and thus a with 
blessing laboring servant of religion and the 
Church of Christ." According to the Herr 
Superintendent the holy ministry was a "busi- 
ness life" for the successful conducting of 
which a toning down of the dogmatic system 
of the Lutheran Confessions was absolutely 
necessary. Therefore, if Buenger received 
a genuegend cum asterisco, Walther was 
not likely to get much more from the 
"High Oberkonsistorium" at Dresden. 
Fortunately, God, whose strength is made 
perfect in weakness, is not guided in the selec- 
tion of His chosen vessels by the opinions 
of such Church dignitaries as these Saxon 

Soon after passing this examination, at 
the instance of Staatsminister Graf von 
Einsiedel, Walther was called to the congre- 
gation at Braunsdorf, near Penig, Saxony, 
which was a part of the Herr Graf's Patro- 
nat. In other words, Graf von Einsiedel 
possessed the hereditary right to select a 
pastor for the people who lived on his estate. 
The well-known Dr. Buechsel, in his "Erin- 


Call ant) <&rbination 

nerungen aus dem Leben eines Landgeist- 
lichen" ("Recollections Out of the Life of 
a Country Parson"), originally published in 
the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung, has a 
chapter on "Die Patrone." He describes 
several, among them one who in his youth 
had lived at court and was filled with Vol- 
taire's ideas and views of life, attended 
church services two or three times a year, 
bringing a newspaper with him for his enter- 
tainment, who openly declared that he came 
merely to set an example to the common 
people, and pitied the minister who by his 
position or station in life was condemned 
to preach things which no sensible person 
any longer believed. "The influence of such 
gentlemen upon the congregation is very 
small," says Buechsel, "and not at all to be 
feared." Here is his astonishing explana- 
tion: "Thirty or forty years ago poor and 
uneducated people held it to be a matter of 
course that superior, wealthy and educated 
people lived without prayer, the word of 
God and the Church. Concern that this god- 
less example does such great harm is not al- 
together well founded." Buechsel wrote 
this in 1861. The period he had in mind 
was, therefore, the time of Walther's ordi- 
nation. His remark gives us another charac- 


doctor Carl 

teristic of rationalism as well as some idea 
of the possibilities for mischief of this "Pa- 
tronats-system. ' ' 

Fortunately, Minister Graf von Einsiedel 
was of a different calibre than the patron de- 
scribed by Dr. Buechsel. He is said to 
have been a sincere, upright, believing Chris- 
tian. He doubtless had his reasons for call- 
ing Walther to the Braunsdorf pastorate. 
The Christian character of the man and 
Walther's relation to him appears from a 
letter written to the Herr Graf by Walther, 
describing his coming to Braunsdorf, his or- 
dination and first sermon, conditions in the 
congregation, his efforts looking toward 
their improvement, etc., in which he pours 
out his whole heart to his patron as to a 
dear and intimate friend. 

He informs him that he had consented, 
although with some reluctance, in deference 
to the wishes of the people, to come to 
Braunsdorf on January 10, five days before 
the day set for his ordination, and that more 
than a hundred of them came to meet him 
at Chursdorf, where he happened to be stay- 
ing at the time. An even larger company, 
together with the schoolmaster and his pupils, 
met him at the entrance to Braunsdorf, to 
receive him in their midst. At the parson- 


Call anb arbitration 

age the schoolmaster greeted and welcomed 
him with a well-meant (wohlgemeinten) ad- 
dress, to which Walther replied, expressing 
his thanks, his wishes and his desires. 

That word "well meant" is significant. 
Had Walther already noticed or felt that 
this unbelieving village schoolmaster was to 
become his most bitter enemy, causing him 
no end of care and trouble? It is said that 
Walther was no judge of men. That signifi- 
cant wohlgemeint would warrant the ques- 
tioning of this statement. By the way, Keyl 
also had cause to complain most bitterly of 
his schoolmaster in Niederfrohna, who slan- 
dered his pastor, wrote pasquilles against 
him and overlooked no opportunity to de- 
nounce him to the rationalistic church author- 
ities. Koestering, in his biography of Keyl, 
calls this man "A very special instrument of 
the devil" (em ganz besonderes Werkzeug 
des Teufels), which, to say the least, is a 
somewhat vigorous characterization. It 
would seem that these schoolmasters, feel- 
ing themselves to be undeservedly subordi- 
nated to their pastors as regards dignity and 
emolument, held it to be their supreme duty 
and chief purpose in life to assert their im- 
portance by opposing and annoying them in 
every imaginable way. There is some reason 


doctor Carl t^altfjer 

to believe that their example here and there 
still finds imitation, even in this country. 

But this is a digression. We were describ- 
ing Walther's letter to his Herr Patron. In 
it he speaks of the anxiety which filled his 
heart as he looked forward to his ordination 
for fear that he might be compelled to wit- 
ness changes on the part of the "Ephorus" 
(overseers, church authorities) calculated to 
deprive him of that comfort given by the as- 
surance of not only having been lawfully 
called but also ordained and sent. 

"Ephorus" primarily means "Herr Super- 
intendent," who was entrusted with the duty 
of ordering and arranging for his ordination. 
Guenther, without giving his name, describes 
him as "the godless, rationalistic superin- 
tendent who caused him (Walther) endless 
heart-breaking grief." Koestering calls him 
"ein ebenso boshafter Feind" ("just as mali- 
cious a foe") as Keyl's schoolmaster, imply- 
ing that he, too, was "a very special instru- 
ment of the devil." 

This seems a very severe judgment, until 
we remember what Walther tells us of his 
experience with this man in his biography of 
Buenger. In a sermon preached before 
"His Eminence," Walther had testified that 
death entered the world by the fall of our 


anfe <&tfrinatton 

first parents, a truth which the Herr Super- 
intendent promptly censured as an outworn 
fable. When Walther reminded him that he 
himself, just a year before, had by oath 
pledged him on the Confessions of the Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Church, which contained 
this doctrine, "His Eminence" replied, "You 
were not pledged upon the letter, but upon 
the spirit of the Confessions." Walther told 
him that he had no recollection of any such 
statement in the form of pledge or subscrip- 
tion; moreover, it was clearly and plainly 
written in the Scriptures: "In the day that 
thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," 
to which the Herr Superintendent replied, 
"O pshaw! that means spiritual death." 
Walther promptly rejoined, "But does not 
God immediately after the fall say to Adam, 
'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt re- 
turn 1 ?" Whereupon His Eminence cast 
down his eyes, said no more and dismissed 
Walther. It is needless to say that he did 
not forget him. Men, especially unbelieving 
men, in high places, remember these things, 
as Walther, Keyl, Buenger and others found 
to their cost. From which it appears that 
Koestering's emphatic characterization was 
not unjustified by fact, and from which it also 
appears that Walther' s anxiety on the eve of 


Doctor Carl 

his ordination was not without some founda- 

Fortunately, as is shown by the letter to 
his patron, all went far better than he had 
dared to hope. After confession, absolution 
and reception of the holy communion, which 
to Walther's joy the Herr Superintendent 
administered without change, according to 
the teachings and use of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church, Walther was ordained ac- 
cording to the practice of our and the apos- 
tolic Church, "so that by the same not only 
the proper obligation was laid upon me, but 
there was also given unto me in the name 
of the Triune God, as valid before God, the 
power and the authority to preach the gos- 
pel, to wield the power of the keys and to 
administer the Holy Sacraments according 
to the institution of Jesus Christ." 

Plainly, Walther had read and thoroughly 
understood the XIV. Article of the Augsburg 
Confession, which says "that no one should 
teach or preach publicly in the church, or ad- 
minister the sacraments without a regular 
call." His ordination, the testimony of the 
Church that he was lawfully and properly 
called, therefore meant the same thing to 
him that our Luther's having been made a 
Doctor of the Holy Scriptures meant to 


CaU anb <&rbinatton 

Luther. It was Luther's stay in every hour 
of trial and doubt. He again and again in- 
sists, over against the opposition of Rome, 
that "he had been sworn and pledged to 
faithfully and purely preach and teach his 
beloved Holy Scriptures." 

Another joy for Walther was the pres- 
ence at his ordination, besides the pastor of 
Kaufungen and another minister friend of 
the neighborhood, of his aged father, his 
elder brother and his brother-in-law, Pastor 
Keyl, who all, he says, "with laying upon of 
hands out of full hearts, spoke the words 
of consecration over me." 

Then he goes on to describe his inaugural 
sermon to his patron, prefacing his account 
with the words, "Richly strengthened by 
what had gone before" ("Reichlich gestaerkt 
durch das Vorausgegangene} . He preached 
on Jeremiah 1 : 6-8 : "Then said I, Ah, Lord 
God I behold, I cannot speak: for I am a 
child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, 
I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I 
shall send thee, and whatever I command 
thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their 
faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, 
saith the Lord." In his introduction he 
spoke of being weighed down and oppressed 
by the consideration of the heavy responsi- 


Doctor Carl DMtfjer 

bility of the sacred office which he had just 
assumed and the account which would one 
day be required of him together with a re- 
alization of his own helplessness and incom- 
petence. Still, in order that his congrega- 
tion at the very beginning of his ministry in 
its midst might look into his heart he desired 
to speak of the theme: "What makes a 
Christian minister joyful and confident at the 
entrance upon his office? There are three 
things," he said. "1. He does not come of 
his own election but according to the call of 
God, for God comforts Jeremiah with this 
truth when He tells him, 'Thou shalt go to 
all that I shall send thee.' 2. He does not 
come with his own wisdom, but with the 
word of God, for God also comforts the 
prophet with this truth, when He says, 
'Whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt 
speak'; finally, 3. He does not come with 
his own power, but with divine aid, for God 
finally sustains His prophet among many 
nations with the promise, 'Be not afraid of 
their faces, for I am with thee to deliver 
thee.' " He closed his sermon with a prayer 
in which he did not fail to invoke God's 
rich blessing upon his patron. This brief 
sketch of his inaugural sermon before the 
Braunsdorf congregation, with its lucid ar- 


Call anii arbitration 

rangement, precision of statement and 
warmth of feeling, gives indication of the 
powers which, ripened into maturity, were to 
make Dr. A. Broemel begin his study of 
the great preachers of the Christian Church 
with the golden-tongued Chrysostom and end 
it with Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther. 

The letter to his patron goes on to de- 
scribe the occurrences of the following day, 
when he took his oath of office and was 
legally confirmed as pastor of Braunsdorf at 
the residence of the superintendent at Penig. 
He remarks: "Praise be to God in eternity 
that I, by His grace and mercy, am not com- 
pelled to look upon this oath as being a 
shackle of conscience ( Gewissensfessel) , but 
rather that through the same the strength- 
ening conviction has been quickened in me 
that I now have liberty to teach (Lehrfrei- 
heit), namely, freedom to teach the pure 
word of God, to which my poor heart clings 
as to the firm anchor of my hope for the 
present and the world to come. Yea, I may 
look upon a from time to time repeated com- 
munication on this matter to Your Excellency 
as being a duty." 

Why did Walther wish to report on his 
preaching and teaching to his patron ? Did 
he mistrust His Eminence, the Herr Superin- 


Doctor Carl t^altfjer 

tendent? It would seem so. In his account 
of his ordination he told Graf von Einsiedel 
that while refraining from making any 
change in the ordination form, the Herr 
Superintendent had "accompanied the act 
with an unchristian address." He had the 
tyrannical persecution of his brother-in-law, 
Pastor Keyl, whom the authorities were try- 
ing to deprive of his liberty to teach by im- 
posing fines in the form of court costs, be- 
fore his eyes. He fears for his own Lehr- 
freiheit. The outcome showed that his ap- 
prehensions were well-founded. Walther's 
letter then goes on to describe conditions in 
the congregation. He tells his patron of his 
conviction that real spiritual life was in all 
probability not to be found in any member of 
the congregation. How could it be awak- 
ened, when the living word of God had not 
been preached there for forty or more 
years? An outward respect for God's word 
and the minister is the rule; true, only in 
so far as this may be compatible with com- 
plete carnal security. The prevailing sins 
are lewdness, Sabbath-breaking, drunken- 
ness, shamelessness and rudeness; ignorance 
of God's word is boundless ; besides the con- 
gregation also stands exceedingly low in 
secular knowledge; very few of the adults 

CaU anb <&rlrinatum 

are able to correctly write their own names." 

By the way, another characteristic of "vul- 
gar" rationalism. A contempt of God's 
word inevitably breeds ignorance and im- 

As for the school, Walther says, with all 
fairness to the teacher, that it without ques- 
tion is above many others; order, diligence 
and obedience prevail ; among the young peo- 
ple of the congregation those may readily be 
distinguished who have profited by N's (the 
schoolmaster's) instructions; as a rule they 
are better taught and less rude than the 
others. Instruction in religion is moralizing 
(moralisirend) ; a curious mixture of truth 
and falsehood. 

Surely this letter is a remarkable docu- 
ment to have been written shortly after his 
ordination by a young man of only twenty- 
five years. For keenness of insight, ripeness 
of judgment, caution of statement, and, 
above all things, firmness of conviction, it 
might have been written by a man of twenty- 
five years' experience in the ministry. 

Now, what did Walther propose to do? 
Give up in despair and go back to his first 
love, the study of music? Start a country 
life movement in his congregation and at- 
tract the people by interesting himself in the 


doctor Carl 

promotion of their material welfare? Let 
him tell us. He says in this same letter : "It 
has, therefore, been my chief aim and effort 
to present the foundation truths of the divine 
word so plainly, so simply, so thoroughly, 
and so insistently as by God's grace was pos- 
sible for me, and in this way to bring my 
hearers to a live perception of their own 
blindness, helplessness and corruptness, and 
at the same time of the boundless richness 
of grace in Jesus Christ and to a real insight 
into the true essence of saving faith and a 
sincere Christian life. I have constantly en- 
deavored to awaken in them a desire and 
love of searching God's word for themselves 
and to remove, so far as possible, their many 
prejudices against the Holy Scriptures and 
pure doctrine, and especially against sincere 
godliness. Attention to the here not un- 
common reliance upon honesty before the 
world and a pharisaic righteousness, and 
upon the mere outward use of the holy sac- 
raments seemed especially necessary. Be- 
sides the sermons, of which I preach two on 
all communion and festival days, the intro- 
duction of the church examination on the 
catechism with the unmarried (mit den Ledi- 
gen) held regularly every two weeks seems 
to me to be especially helpful; I here find 

CaU anii t&tirination 

opportunity to speak on many matters which 
in a sermon may either not at all, or at least 
not be presented in a manner so well adapted 
and fruitful as regards the insight of the 
people. The visiting of the sick accordingly 
makes up a chief part of the cure of souls." 
Plainly the "Herr Kandidat" had be- 
come a "Herr Pastor," a real shepherd of 
souls. And we might as well make up our 
minds that the great arch-enemy of God and 
man will soon find some "especial instru- 
ment" (some ganz besonderes Werkzeug) 
to hinder his work, worry the shepherd and 
try to scatter and destroy the flock committed 
to his charge. This will be the easier be- 
cause of prevailing religious conditions not 
only in Braunsdorf village, but in Saxony, 
and, for that matter, in all Germany. 


Chapter 6 

General fteligioug Condition* 

Although a fair idea of the prevailing re- 
ligious conditions in Saxony at the time of 
Walther's brief pastorate may be formed by 
what has been said above, a somewhat more 
specific description would seem to be neces- 
sary to explain his connection with Martin 
Stephan, his resignation in 1838, and his 
leaving his home and mother country to 
come to America the same year. Fortu- 
nately, Walther himself supplies this in his 
biography of Pastor Buenger. Written in 
1882, after nearly fifty years had elapsed, 
in other words, after time had given a proper 
historical perspective, it can hardly be said 
that his description is biased or unduly 
severe. If anything, it is unduly charitable 
and lenient, for, as Guenther says, "The re- 
ligious oppression under which faithful 
Lutherans in Saxony lay were most dread- 
ful" (ganz entsetzlich). Walther writes: 
"Just as in that time the binding by oath upon 
the Book of Concord was only one empty 
comedy, so the most important regulations 
of the established Church were just so many 

General fieligtoug Conditions; 

actual and well-known denials of the sworn 
Confession of the Church, which plainly 
proved that only upon the basis of Jesuiti- 
cal moral principles it might be urged that 
the established Church of Saxony was still 
a Lutheran, thus a faithful Church, because 
the Confession still stood with right in the 
same. In the first place, already since 1812, 
a Church-book, or so-called "Agende," had 
been introduced which a Lutheran-believing 
minister might use only with bad conscience, 
insomuch as it contained forms which on the 
one hand openly denied divine truth, and on 
the other miserably watered Christian doc- 
trine. To this came another thing: While 
nobody asked or cared if the rationalistic, un- 
believing ministers, to whom it still sounded 
too Christian, guided themselves by the 
"Agende," a Lutheran-believing minister did 
not dare in any wise to depart from it. If he 
did this and it came to the ears of his superi- 
ors, he was most severely called to account. 
When, among other things, the writer 
(Walther) had used the old form of abso- 
lution not contained in the "Agende," and his 
unbelieving schoolmaster for this reason ac- 
cused him before his superintendent, he re- 
ported the matter to the Consistory of the 
country, which hereupon strictly forbade him 


Doctor Carl 

the use of the old form of absolution, and 
again pledged him, according to the "Agende," 
in all cases where absolution was spoken, to 
merely announce the forgiveness of sins, con- 
demning him to bear all accumulated costs 
of the written negotiations. Moreover, a 
believing pastor came into even greater dis- 
tress of conscience when he was expected to 
read from his pulpit and present to God the 
miserable prayers especially prepared by the 
Consistorium for special occasions. Further- 
more, a beyond all measure miserable ration- 
alistic hymnal was introduced. The school 
books in use were almost without exception 
completely leavened with the leaven of 
rationalism, so that a believing minister, as 
the so-called Spiritual Inspector (of the 
school) constantly lay under dire distress of 
conscience. Wherever school books that 
were in some measure pure had main- 
tained themselves, there rationalistic super- 
intendents labored with might and main to 
abolish and replace them with rationalistic 
substitutes. When the writer (Walther) at- 
tempted to secure the introduction of a 
school book written in a Christian spirit, his 
godless schoolmaster immediately denounced 
him to his superintendent, who, thereupon, 
joined hands with the ignorant village school-' 

General Cteltgtousi Conliittong 

board and together with it attempted to com- 
pel the prompt introduction of a just as mis- 
erable as anti-Christian so-called "School- 
friend." However, by God's gracious provi- 
dence, the attempt failed of success because 
the writer (Walther) appealed to his pious 
Church patron, Staatsminister Graf Detlev 
von Einsiedel, who not only, in order to win 
the congregation, made it a present of a 
large number of copies of a good school 
reader, but also appealed in this matter to 
the district directorate, which as highest in- 
stance had its final decision. True, the 
writer (Walther) was compelled to bear the 
by no means moderate costs of this legal ac- 
tion (which he was of course glad to do) ; 
yet, on the very day before his emigration, 
without having been requested, the congre- 
gation refunded the amount to him with the 
statement that the action had been conducted 
only for the sake of the welfare of its chil- 

Furthermore, it was in the highest degree 
oppressive to the consciences of Lutheran- 
believing pastors of the established Saxon 
Church that they, in direct opposition to the 
word of God, were not only compelled, by 
reason of their office in the established 
Church, to maintain ecclesiastical, sacra- 


Doctor Carl t^altfjer 

mental and fraternal relations with errorists, 
yea, with most notorious heretics, but even 
to recognize them as their spiritual superi- 
ors (Oberhirten) ; suffer themselves to be 
examined, ordained, pledged on the Confes- 
sions and installed into office by them; yes, 
compelled to permit them in their presence, 
before the minister's own congregation, to 
blaspheme divine truth and before them to 
spew out their doctrine of devils. When the 
writer (Walther) had preached his trial ser- 
mon and shortly thereafter was ordained in 
the presence of his congregation, the offici- 
ating superintendent, in his address to him, 
slandered Elijah and David as common mur- 
derers, while warning him against a Chris- 
tianity which despised the pleasures of this 
life and blasphemously invited him to preach 
as joyous a Christianity as Christ had 
preached with very deed at the marriage 
feast of Cana. Finally, it is self-understood 
that this also caused a Lutheran-believing 
minister no little distress of conscience, that 
the practice of announcement before com- 
munion, the suspension of impenitent men 
from the Lord's Supper, in short, every ex- 
ercise of Church discipline was prohibited to 

Lutheran-believing laymen in Saxony at 


General Cteligtoug Conbittong 

that time also suffered a no smaller distress 
of conscience. They were required to recog- 
nize notorious false prophets as their shep- 
herds and pastors (Seelsorger)^ permit their 
children to be baptized and confirmed by 
them, suffer themselves to be absolved by 
them at confession and to receive the holy 
communion at their hands. They were re- 
quired to place their children in the charge of 
godless schoolmasters for their instruction in 
religion and their Christian training, and for 
this purpose to purchase and themselves 
place into their hands godless school-books. 
Whenever a child was born to believing 
parents there was great distress. Of the five 
forms for baptism contained in the Church- 
book ("Agende") but one was in some meas- 
ure endurable. The father was, therefore, 
compelled to hasten to his unbelieving pastor 
and humbly beg him to use this one form; 
and even this request was but seldom granted 
to him, so that, as a rule, he with deeply 
wounded conscience carried his child home 
from church after it, by an enemy of Christ, 
had indeed been baptized in the name of the 
Father and of the Son and of the Holy 
Ghost, but with the addition of his own 
rationalistic "twaddle" (Gewasch). To 
which Walther adds in a footnote : "More- 


Doctor Carl f^altfjer 

over at that time there were also ministers in 
Saxony who did not even baptize according 
to the words (of institution) in the name of 
the Trinity. Still we know of no case where 
they dared do this with the children of those 
parents whom they knew to be believers." 
In this connection Walther quotes the ex- 
perience of a friend with a certain Pastor S., 
who, after having promised to use the one ac- 
ceptable form of baptism, arbitrarily changed 
it at the font itself, substituting a prayer of 
his own fabrication for the Lord's Prayer, 
omitting the renunciation, reciting the Creed, 
but not in question form, etc. The outraged 
people insisted that he keep his promise and 
read the form without change, which he, 
after a disagreeable argument, finally did, in- 
troducing his administration of the sacred 
act with the words : "These people have pre- 
sumed to lay down prescriptions to a teacher 
of religion; I submit to them because I con- 
sider their weakness." He did not consider 
that it was his duty to faithfully abide by the 
forms for sacred acts approved and sanc- 
tioned by the Church. This, by the way, is 
another characteristic of rationalism. A 
dyed-in-the-wool rationalist is never satisfied 
to use an accepted Church form for a minis- 
terial act. With the most astounding self- 


general Ifcligumg Confrftiong 

sufficiency he is ever ready to cast it aside, 
and, upon the spur of the moment to sub- 
stitute his own poetic twaddle (Oh, for a 
word like "Gewasch" '/) for words and 
prayers hallowed by centuries of use. He 
does this with the liturgy, with the baptismal, 
confirmation and marriage service; in short, 
upon every possible or impossible occasion. 
And he expects people to consider this "nice." 
But this is another digression. Let us re- 
turn to Walther. Commenting on the above 
described incident, he says : "Thus a ration- 
alistic minister conducted himself toward a 
candidate whose generally known learning he 
was compelled to respect. But if the man 
requesting the administration of baptism in 
a churchly manner was of a lower station, 
for instance a poor linen weaver or stocking 
knitter, then very different scenes were en- 
acted at the baptismal font, if he in any way 
dared to give voice to his misgivings. In the 
first place, he practically never received the 
promise from his minister that he would bap- 
tize his child in a Lutheran churchly manner, 
and if he hereupon ventured to express any 
dissatisfaction with the manner in which the 
baptism had been performed, he had cause 
to be glad if he was merely dismissed with 
words of abuse instead of being accused and 


Doctor Carl HMtfjer 

punished as an audacious desecrator of the 

"Hard as it was for many poor Lutheran- 
believing laymen to walk for miles and miles 
if they for once desired to hear a Lutheran 
sermon, this was the smallest thing they had 
to bear. Many of them, after having labored 
the whole week from early dawn until late at 
night in the sweat of their face to earn their 
meager daily bread for their own households, 
set out at the approach of Sunday soon after 
midnight in order to refresh their famishing 
hearts with the preaching of the pure, alone- 
saving word of God in some distant church. 
When this was done, they at once, on Sunday 
evening, set out for the return with rejoicing, 
and on Monday, refreshed in soul, again 
took up the weekly task which so meagerly 
supported them and their own. How gladly 
the Lutheran-believing ministers and laymen 
of those days would have given up every- 
thing if only they might have secured per- 
mission to unite in a Lutheran Free Church, 
separated from the deeply corrupted and 
fallen established Church ! But there was at 
that time absolutely no thought of their re- 
ceiving permission for such a purpose. Emi- 
gration to a country where religious liberty 
prevailed was, therefore, recognized as the 



only way of escape from the oppression of 
conscience, constantly growing more and 
more unbearable, which threatened to suffo- 
cate in them all life of faith. To this came 
the warning example which the Lutherans of 
Saxony saw in the fate of the separated 
Lutherans of Prussia. For when many of 
them, after unsuccessful, faithful and hot 
battle against union (the Prussian Union of 
Frederick William III, 1817, 1830) and the 
enduring of heavy persecutions, sought per- 
mission to emigrate, this prayer was flatly 
denied them at the instance of Kultus Min- 
ister von Altenstein, although a Prussian law 
of the year 1818 explicitly permitted emigra- 
tion. The Lutherans of Saxony, not without 
reason, feared that the same fate threatened 
them. . . . Although in the established 
Church of Saxony the union of Lutherans 
and Reformed was not yet, as in Prussia, 
formally introduced by a special law, it was 
none the less long since actually united. To 
mention but one thing, such widely differing 
forms for official acts had been received by 
the Church of Saxony just for this reason, 
that unbelieving ministers, just as well as the 
believing, might officiate therein, and that un- 
believing laymen, just as well as the believ- 
ing, might find satisfaction therein ; with this 


Doctor Carl 

exception, that far more regard was had for 
the former than for the latter. In short, 
the union of the Saxon established Church 
was, it is true, no union of Reformed and 
Lutherans, but a union of unbelievers and 

Such were religious conditions in Germany, 
in Saxony and in the village of Braunsdorf 
at the time of Walther's pastorate. The 
"distress of conscience" he so often speaks 
of was tasted by him in the fullest measure. 
The rationalistic Book of Forms ( "Agende" ) , 
the rationalistic hymnal and the rationalistic 
school books were enough in themselves to 
burden any Lutheran-believing conscience 
without further prodding. But the "Herr 
Superintendent" and the "Herr Dorf-schul- 
meister," these two "special instruments," 
saw to it that there was no lack of further 
annoyance and persecution. Walther was 
accused before the Church authorities again 
and again, overwhelmed with official cen- 
sures and rebukes, compelled in pure self- 
defence to bear the costs of expensive legal 
actions, and generally treated like some spir- 
itual leper. He speaks of these things in 
his letters to his friends. But there is no 
thought of unfaithfulness to conviction in 
his heart; no chafing and no complaining. 


General fteligioug Conbitiong 

He says in a letter to Brohm, August 17, 
1837: "Fear of man does not move me in 
the least, but only the fear of unwise or 
illegal steps. If God's honor requires it, I 
am joyfully ready to invite the attack of 
Superintendent, Kreisdirection ( District 
School-board), Consistorium and Ministe- 
rium. If it were God's will, I would only re- 
joice if the burden of my office were taken 
from me, for it is very, very heavy; but I 
am also willing to bear it as long as I can 
do so in God's name and with the assur- 
ance that He is with me." 

"It is good for a man that he bear the 
yoke in his youth," says Jeremiah. Then he 
goes on to explain why: "He sitteth alone 
and keepeth silence because he hath borne it 
upon him." It is especially good for a pas- 
tor to bear the yoke in his youth. It teaches 
him to sit alone and keep silence, which is 
one of the hard, hard things about the min- 
istry. For a minister must not chafe and 
complain. He may seek advice and counsel 
of a friend, but he must not talk of his own 
troubles. This is a hard lesson to learn. 
Fortunate the pastor who, like Walther, 
learns it in his youth. For when he wrote 
this letter to Brohm he was not yet twenty- 
six years old and he had been at Braunsdorf 


Doctor Carl 

about seven months. The young "Herr Pas- 
tor" was rapidly being enriched and ripened 
through Christian experience. 


Cfjaptet 7 

"Emigration to a country where religious 
liberty prevailed was therefore recognized 
as the only way of escape from the oppres- 
sion of conscience, constantly growing more 
and more unbearable, which threatened to 
suffocate in them all life of faith," thus 
Walther summarizes his description of the 
situation of the faithful Lutherans in Saxony. 
There could be no emigration without leader- 
ship. That leadership had to have some 
pressing reason for leaving Germany as well 
as a genius for organization, which could not 
only inspire blind confidence, but actually 
command the purses of people of means. 
The one man who possessed these qualifica- 
tions was Martin Stephan, pastor of the 
Bohemian St. John's Congregation, in Pirna, 
a suburb of Dresden. Doctor C. E. Vehse, 
a Doctor of Laws, who came to America 
with him and returned to Germany after 
Stephan's exposure, wrote a book on the 
Saxon emigration. He says: "Stephan is a 
psychological riddle." This does not help us 
very much, for every man is more or less 


Doctor Carl BMtijer 

of a psychological riddle. Then he adds: 
"Whatever may be said against it, this much 
stands : As godless a man as he was, just so 
shrewd a man was he." This is better. A 
shrewd, godless man used by God, again 
"moving in a mysterious way, His wonders 
to perform," and, like King Saul of Israel, 
cast aside by the divine judgment just as soon 
as he, having fulfilled the divine purpose, re- 
fused to repent of his sins. The tragic fate 
of such men always arouses the profoundest 
pity in the hearts of the Davids raised up by 
God to supplant them. This was Walther's 
feeling toward Stephan. He never forgot 
his own indebtedness to him and the immense 
service he had rendered to the faithful Luth- 
eran Church. We shall fare best if we let 
him tell us what manner of a man Stephan 
was. Fortunately, he does this in his biog- 
raphy of Buenger. So let us quote again: 
"Martin Stephan was born August 13, 1777, 
at Stramberg, in Moravia, of poor but pious 
parents. He was already a journeyman linen 
weaver when he, in 1803, with the support 
of pious Christians at Breslau, entered the 
gymnasium of that city. He afterwards 
frequented the Universities of Halle and of 
Leipzig. In the year 1809 he first became 
pastor of a small Lutheran congregation at 

Haber, in Bohemia, but after the lapse of a 
year (1810), followed a call to the Bohe- 
mian congregation at Dresden. The less 
God's word at that time resounded in the 
other churches of Dresden the quicker 
Stephan's church was filled with the souls of 
that place which were eager for salvation; 
for Stephan really preached the gospel, and 
that upon the foundation of his own personal 
experience. Like a house of bread, in which 
every beggar during a period of most bitter 
famine might come and take fresh nourishing 
bread, Stephan's church in that day stood, 
the smallest and plainest of the splendid city. 
Stephan possessed none of the arts of 
worldly oratory; at least the richly endowed 
man did not employ them. Hardly moving 
a hand, seldom modulating his voice, without 
any force of expression, he plainly and sim- 
ply declared the counsel of God for man's 
salvation, showing in the same manner the 
spirituality and strictness of the law and the 
condition of every man by nature, as well 
as the riches of grace of the gospel and the 
sure help which every sinner may find in 
Christ. Whosoever heard him once, if he 
was not filled with the spirit of scoffing, felt 
himself moved to the inmost depths of his 
being, without really knowing how this had 


doctor Carl 

come to pass. Little as his sermons were 
what is usually called 'attractive,' they 
nevertheless had such power of attraction 
that many people, determined never again to 
enter his church lest they become more dis- 
quieted, yet after a short time were drawn 
back again with irresistible force. In his 
sermons Stephan aimed to influence not so 
much the emotions as conscience. In this his 
wonderful knowledge of men and of the 
human heart was of great service to him. 
It could never be said of Stephan that 
he ever designed to arouse enthusiastic 
(schwaermerisch) emotions. Whoever per- 
suaded himself to go to him seeking advice 
and comfort found the most cordial recep- 
tion, and, as a rule, the most reliable advice 
and a true comfort actually drawn from the 
word of God and a rich Christian experience. 
This was a fact so well-known and recog- 
nized even by Stephan' s opponents among 
the believing pastors of the country, that 
they themselves in the end often sent the 
most helpless (rathlosesten) and heavy-bur- 
dened souls who came to them to Stephan 
as the one man who, if possible for any, 
would help them aright. Stephan's cure of 
souls (Seelsorge} thus little by little extended 
itself far beyond Dresden. Of course, 



the unbelieving world after a time directed 
its attention to him. At first looked upon as 
some ruin which had stood from days of old, 
deserving no serious attention, he, for all 
that, because of his visibly increasing influ- 
ence, not only with simple and uneducated 
people, but also in like manner with highly 
educated and in part highly stationed per- 
sons, finally appeared to the world as a dan- 
gerous man whose doings must be stopped. 
Just as his predecessor, the excellent minis- 
ter, George Petermann, and Czapowitz had 
conducted private meetings in the parsonage, 
so Stephan held similar meetings. Opening 
and closing these gatherings with song and 
prayer, he reviewed in catechetical form the 
sermon preached on the preceding Sunday 
with practical applications bearing upon 
Christian life, such as he could not well have 
made from the pulpit. It was, above all, 
these private meetings to which more and 
more salvation-seeking souls streamed, which 
first provoked public opposition against 
Stephan on the part of the world. Accord- 
ingly he was first severely attacked, in 1821, 
in political papers as the founder of a new 
fanatical sect. Stephan did not quietly ac- 
cept this, but he promptly replied in the 
Nationalzeitung der Deutscheh, as follows: 


Doctor Carl BMtfjer 

"I am neither the founder of a sect, nor 
the leader of a sect; I neither belong to an 
old nor to a new sect; I hate all sectarianism 
and fanaticism; I am an Evangelical Luth- 
eran minister, and preach the word of God 
as it is written in the Bible. I build my con- 
gregation upon the foundation of the apos- 
tles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself be- 
ing the chief corner-stone. I have and preach 
the apostolic religion, so purely and courage- 
ously preached by Luther. I preach the 
law and the gospel, the knowledge of sins 
and the knowledge of grace in Christ God 
made man I preach faith in Christ, and by 
His death on the cross completed atone- 
ment for the sin of the whole world. I 
preach this plainly, not in any strange, mys- 
tic sense, but in the sense which our pious 
forefathers honestly and plainly expressed it 
in the symbolical writings. I have no pecu- 
liar religious opinion; my religion stands 
neither above the Bible nor below the Bible, 
but in the Bible ; it leads to Christ and keeps 
with Him," etc. 

We can readily see why Walther quotes 
this in full. It is Stephan's confession of 
faith, and, incidentally, the confession of 
faith of Stephan's adherents. Surely, 
Walther owed it to the man whom God used 


for the leading of the Saxon emigrants to 
America even as he owed it to these emi- 
grants themselves to publicly make this state- 
ment. It was not a question of defending 
them against the charge of sectarianism and 
schism, or the worse insinuation, actually 
made, of having silently tolerated, or, per- 
haps, even shared his immorality. It was 
rather a question of showing by Stephan's 
own words the Lutheran standing of the peo- 
ple who, perhaps all too faithfully, adhered 
to him when they knew of no one else to 
whom they might adhere, and, above all, 
the real secret of his power which was the 
faithful preaching of the word of God "in 
the sense which our pious forefathers hon- 
estly and plainly laid it down in our confes- 
sional writings." 

Walther, therefore, refers to two ser- 
mons published by Stephan in 1823, with an 
introduction in which he insists that he taught 
no other doctrine in his private meetings 
than that proclaimed from his pulpit. 
Walther also quotes at length from the pre- 
face of a volume of sermons published by 
Stephan in 1825, where Stephan says : "What 
I have preached I myself believe with my 
whole heart. I am firmly convinced that only 
the Bible can be a fountain of pure Chris- 


Doctor Carl 

tian doctrine. Out of this our pious fore- 
fathers have drawn and preserved the pure 
doctrine in the confessional writings of our 
Evangelical Lutheran Church for us. The 
spreading of this pure doctrine is my sincere 
effort in this book." 

Finally he points to a "Confession of 
Faith of St. John's Congregation, Dresden," 
published in 1833, as "a refutation of the 
charges brought against it and its pastor in 
several public papers," with this comment: 
"A booklet of seventy-four pages, in which 
Stephan's congregation, as late as the year 
1833, makes the same simple conservative 
Lutheran confession; by appealing, and that 
by name, to all recognized faithful teachers 
of our Church from Luther down to the 
most recent times." 

Koestering, the Herodotus of the Missouri 
Synod, in his "Auswanderung der Saechsi- 
chen Lutheraner" and in his "Biography of 
Pastor E. G. L. Keyl," devotes considerable 
space to an attempt to prove that "Stephan's 
doctrine had, perhaps, never been the pure 
doctrine of Luther, but rather a more pietis- 
tic one." He discusses his doctrinal system 
("if one with him can speak of any system at 
all") ; accuses him of doctrinal errors, hie- 
rarchical principles and tendencies, a miscon- 


ception and abuse of the power of the keys, 
a false conception of the holy ministry and 
its powers, etc. Still he admits that it was 
impossible to prove him guilty of even one 
striking error. We ask : Then why make the 
attempt? Far better to simply take the gen- 
erous position of Walther and admit him to 
have been a man who courageously held and 
proclaimed Lutheran truth in a day when 
the holding and preaching of that truth 
brought only contempt and persecution as its 
reward. The invitation to solve Doctor 
Vehse's "psychological riddle" is strong. 
But it cannot be solved by dissecting Stephan's 
doctrinal system. Nor can it be solved by 
discussing his family relations and home life, 
his promenades on summer evenings with the 
members of his congregation, his having 
been arrested by the Dresden police only to 
be discharged with no proof of guilt against 
him, his failure to avoid every appearance 
of evil, his intolerance of criticism or con- 
tradiction, the blind, almost idolatrous ad- 
herence of his followers, the holding aloof 
from him of many upright and right-thinking 
people, his having been suspended from his 
office when his congregation charged him 
with neglect of duty, his having left Dresden 
at night to take ship at Bremen without say- 


Doctor Carl UMtfjer 

ing farewell to his wife and children, his hav- 
ing been tortured at his death with horrible 
visions, etc. Hochstetter, in his "Geschichte 
der Missouri Synode," follows Koester- 
ing in this. He comes no nearer solving the 
"psychological riddle" than Vehse or Koes- 
tering. Why not simply say it will never be 
solved until all things are fully revealed by 
Him who looketh not, like poor blind men, 
upon the outward appearance, but who look- 
eth upon the heart? We may, perhaps, go a 
step further, and say this : Stephan, it would 
seem, did not fall under the stress of a sud- 
den temptation. A sin, such as his, is seldom 
the growth of a day. But what had passed 
in the soul of this man, who unto thousands 
had been a prophet of righteousness, it is im- 
possible to say. That he was not utterly 
reprobate might, perhaps, be inferred from 
the fact that no similar charge was ever 
again brought against him, and that a young 
woman of the best families of Saxon emi- 
grants followed him after his expulsion from 
the colony and clung to him until he died 
in 1847, pastor of a small congregation near 
Red Bud, or Horse Prairie, Illinois. Vehse, 
the jurist, technically correct, calls her "his 
concubine." Hochstetter, again following 
Koestering, calls her eine aus seiner weib- 


lichen Dienersckaft, "one of his female 
servants." Neither expression is exactly 
charitable. Walther says nothing. In his 
biography of Buenger he discusses these mat- 
ters only in so far as such discussion is neces- 
sary to explain Buenger's relation to Stephan. 
We shall fare best if we follow his example, 
prayerfully remembering the warning: "Let 
him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest 
he fall." If the text needs any emphasis, 
let us remember that Stephan was a man of 
sixty-two and Walther a youth of twenty- 
eight when his brother, Otto Hermann, 
pushed him into Stephan's house and left him 
to confront the "Bishop" with proofs of his 
guilt unaided and alone. 

Stephan, according to the statements of 
those most intimate with him, had long pri- 
vately cherished some emigration scheme. 
He at first thought of going to Australia, 
but for some reason gave this up and directed 
his thoughts toward North America. He 
was greatly strengthened in his determina- 
tion to emigrate to the United States by his 
conference and correspondence with Doctor 
Benjamin Kurtz, who, after the establish- 
ment of the theological seminary at Gettys- 
burg, was commissioned by the General 
Synod to solicit funds in Germany for the 


Doctor Carl 

new institution. Stephan seems to have met 
him during his two years' stay in the father- 
land. It is said that he at first thought of 
leading the colony to Virginia, but Doctor 
Kurtz advised him against it because Vir- 
ginia was a slave State. Kurtz seems never 
to have thought of advising these people to 
settle near Gettysburg. We may find an ex- 
planation after we come to discuss the condi- 
tion of the Church in America, when the in- 
fluence of Doctor B. Kurtz and Doctor S. S. 
Schmucker was at its height. But it is inter- 
esting to speculate what might have been the 
development of Gettysburg and the Church 
if men like Walther, Loeber, Buenger and 
Brohm had been placed in charge of the in- 
stitution while the sons of the sturdy Saxon 
immigrants helped to fill its halls. 

Stephan kept up a correspondence with 
Doctor Kurtz after the latter returned to 
America. He also gave some consideration 
to Michigan as a favorable location for his 
colony. Finally, through reading a book 
written by a certain Duden, on the State of 
Missouri, in which it was depicted with the 
most glowing colors as a very garden of the 
gods, he was finally persuaded to decide in 
favor of this particular location as the most 
advantageous site for his colony. 

"Der Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt" the 
Germans say. "Man elects and God di- 
rects." St. Louis at that time was a frontier 
town of barely 12,000 inhabitants. The 
fertile prairies of the Mississippi Valley were 
still "the Great American Desert." But St. 
Louis was to become the gateway through 
which the great stream of German immigra- 
tion was to come in and take possession of 
this Land of Promise, dotting its broad fields 
with thousands upon thousands of happy 
farm homes where Lutheran prayers are 
said and Lutheran hymns are sung. And the 
headquarters for the shepherding of these 
Lutheran multitudes into congregations hon- 
estly confessing "the religion so purely and 
courageously preached by Luther," with its 
Concordia Seminary and Concordia Publish- 
ing House, was St. Louis. All because a 
man named Duden wrote a book which was 
read by a man named Stephan who led a 
young man named Walther to that place. 
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, saith the 
Lord." This is what Pastor Walther would 
have said, and we, who have in this chapter 
so often quoted him, can hardly do better 
than say these words after him. 


Chapter 8 


While Stephan was thus gradually prepar- 
ing his emigration plans, Pastor Ferdinand 
Walther was faithfully laboring amid the 
most trying difficulties at Braunsdorf. De- 
spite the two "special instruments," the 
"Herr Superintendent" and the "Herr Schul- 
meister," who opposed him at every step, 
his labor was not in vain. The word of 
God, faithfully preached and faithfully 
taught, here as always, brought its precious 
fruit. This, however, did not relieve his dis- 
tress of conscience. The intolerable relig- 
ious conditions, the outward and visible 
signs of the inward spiritual desolation from 
which he had so recently escaped, remained. 
He was compelled, if he desired to be a min- 
ister of the established Church, to use its 
rationalistic liturgy, its rationalistic hymnal 
and its rationalistic school books. He was 
obliged to fellowship with notorious error- 
ists and heretics, to receive at the Lord's 
table notorious evil livers, to hear and see 
the holy things of his Lord's kingdom 
maliciously desecrated and blasphemed by 


unbelieving men in high places. It was not 
in his power nor in the power of his congre- 
gation to change these things. Any attempt 
in that direction meant new charges, new 
censures, new rebukes, new legal actions, new 
court costs and new fines. Still, if he meekly 
suffered them to be, how could he account 
himself a faithful minister of Christ and 
steward of the mysteries of God? What 
was he to do ? 

Stephan's call to the oppressed Lutherans 
of Saxony, asking them to join him in seek- 
ing the religious liberty denied them at home 
by emigrating to America showed him a wel- 
come, and, as he thought, legitimate way of 
escape. And so Pastor Walther of Brauns- 
dorf, with his brother, Otto Hermann, who 
was the vicar of his aged father at Langen- 
schursdorf, resolved to resign and join 
Stephan's emigration association. Walther 
did this, Guenther tells us, "with a bleeding 
heart and after severe inward and outward 

Doctor Jacobs, who says, "Muhlenberg 
and Walther are the most prominent figures 
in the history of the Lutheran Church in 
America up to this time" (1893), points out 
that "Walther was by no means a spiritual 
child of Stephan, completely as, at one time, 


Doctor Carl 

he was beneath the influence of the latter. 
He went to Stephan for advice in an ad- 
vanced stage of his spiritual struggles." We 
know this from a letter written to Hoch- 
stetter by Buenger, in 1881, shortly before 
his death, in which he says that Walther had 
seen Stephan but seldom before leaving Sax- 
ony, and that he had already in Germany ad- 
mitted to him that he lacked personal confi- 
dence in him. Stephan looked upon Walther 
with suspicion, without, however, letting him 
have any inkling of his real feeling towards 
him. That Walther with his brother joined 
the emigration association was most dis- 
pleasing to Stephan, and he would have pre- 
vented it if he could. He feared the inde- 
pendence of the young Braunsdorf pastor, 
who, as His Eminence, the Herr Superin- 
tendent at Penig, knew, had a theological 
training and judgment of his own. After the 
emigrants reached St. Louis, Stephan saw 
to it that Candidate Kluegel was Walther's 
roommate, with instructions to keep a sharp 
eye upon his associate. 

Koestering says the same thing: "We 
have often heard from the lips of these old 
emigrants that one among them (the pastors 
and candidates), who at that time was still 
a very young, but with the people a very 


popular minister, had often testified, that 
even if Stephan and the whole company were 
sunk in the depths of the sea, the Church 
would, therefore, not cease to be, because in 
the corrupt established Church of Germany 
there was still many hidden believers, whom 
God would preserve as a holy seed amid an 
apostate generation. He was not emigrat- 
ing for Stephan's sake, but in order to assist 
in the upbuilding of the Church in America. 
He expected anything else than good days in 
America, but had rather, in the name of God, 
resolved to expect the worst, and all ought 
do the same ; then they would remain stead- 
fast in the hour of need and danger and be 
strong in the Lord and in the power of His 
strength." "These words plainly show that 
this beloved man was no common Stephanist, 
that there was in him a different spirit than 
that which lived in Stephan and his adorers. 
Stephan knew this only too well; therefore 
he hated this man from the bottom of his 
heart, considered him his Judas, and would 
gladly have hindered his coming to Amer- 


Koestering's language is always vigorous. 
At times he gossips like Pepys. But he 
leaves us in no doubt that Walther was never 
a spiritual child nor a blind, unquestioning 


Doctor Carl Walter 

follower of Stephan. He also gives us some 
idea of the thoughts which filled the young 
pastor's heart during the long ocean voyage 
upon a sailing vessel, where a man feels his 
own littleness and the immensity of God's 
greatness as in no other place. 

Walther resigned his office and preached 
his farewell sermon at Braunsclorf on the 
16th Sunday after Trinity, 1838. His con- 
gregation listened to him with sobs and 
and tears. Several families, resolved to emi- 
grate with him, said farewell to their homes 
and friends. The die was cast, the brief 
Braunsdorf pastorate ended, the course for 
the new world set. 

Stephan's call met with prompt response. 
The determination to emigrate with America 
as the goal, had been definitely resolved upon 
at a meeting held at Dresden, about Pente- 
cost, 1836. From that time on, all necessary 
preparations were quietly made. Stephan 
said he was awaiting a sign from God. 
Finally, after having been arrested in No- 
vember, 1837, and suspended from office, he, 
early in 1838, declared, not only before his 
Dresden congregation, but wherever he had 
adherents, that the time had come to act 
upon the words spoken by God to Abraham, 
the father of the faithful: "Get thee out of 



thy country, and from thy kindred, and from 
thy father's house, unto a land that I will 
show thee." 

By September 4, 1838, 707 persons had 
declared their intention to emigrate, and 
joined the association. Dresden and vicin- 
ity furnished the larger number, 240 souls; 
Leipzig, 3 1 ; Frohna and vicinity, Pastor 
Keyl's congregation, 109; Lunzenau, where 
Candidate Kuehn had been pastor, now 
served by Pastor Buerger, 84; Eichenberg, 
near Cahla, Pastor Loeber's congregation, 
with some people from Halle and Naum- 
burg, 108; Paitzdorf and vicinity, Pastor 
Gruber's charge, 48; Langenschursdorf, the 
home of the Walthers, Pastor Otto Her- 
mann Walther, 16; Braunsdorf, Pastor Carl 
Ferdinand Walther, 19; individuals from 
other places, 20. The small number of per- 
sons who might be suspected of having been 
personal adherents of the two Walthers, is 
worthy of notice. Out of the 707, there 
were all told but 35; 16 who followed the 
elder, and 19 who followed the younger 

In the emigration company there were 7 
pastors, 8 candidates for the ministry, 1 
schoolmaster, 3 candidate teachers, 3 doc- 
tors of medicine, 1 doctor of laws, 1 lawyer, 


doctor Carl 

2 artists, a number of state officials and 
merchants; the great majority, however, 
were farmers and artisans. These people, 
pastors, teachers and officials resigned their 
positions, farmers sold their farms, physi- 
cians sacrificed their practice, artists and ar- 
tisans forsook their occupations. What was 
worse, husbands left their wives and wives 
their husbands, parents left their children 
and children their parents. All left their 
ancestral homes with its precious associations 
and customs, its time-honored institutions and 
priceless legacies. They were fleeing from 
Babel, so they thought; hoping to save their 
souls alive and preserve the pure word and 
sacraments for their posterity. 

Before leaving Germany they established 
a common fund for the defraying of all com- 
mon expenses, the establishment of church 
and school, the purchase of lands, and the 
advancing of credits to people lacking means 
of their own. Freewill offerings had placed 
123,987 thalers into this fund, or Kredit- 
kasse. They purchased a large theological 
library, a pipe organ, a collection of church 
music, instruments for a band, three church 
bells, the sacred vessels, etc. They sent a 
committee to Bremen and chartered four 
ships for their exclusive use (to which a fifth 



was afterwards added), and made arrange- 
ments to assemble and sail together from 
that port. Everything was worked out with 
slow going German thoroughness and atten- 
tion to detail. But they made one great mis- 
take. They should have sent a competent 
committee to America to spy out the land 
and make arrangements for the reception of 
the colony. Instead, they agreed to sail for 
New Orleans and then proceed by Missis- 
sippi River boats to St. Louis, their gathering 
place in the new world. 

Strangely enough, in view of the disorder 
inseparable from such an undertaking and 
the opposition it was bound to provoke, all 
went well. The entire company gathered 
at Bremen and took ship. But one family 
was detained, the widowed mother and two 
sisters of Walther's intimate friend, Buen- 
ger. She was untruthfully accused of having 
two orphan children in her care. Buenger, 
of course, remained with his mother until the 
accusation was disproved and a Saxon court 
order directed the Bremen authorities to 
allow "the widowed Frau Pastor Buenger," 
with her charges, to proceed on her journey. 
The other emigrants had sailed, and so 
Buenger, with his mother and two of his 
sisters, came to America via New York, 


Doctor Carl U^altijer 

sailing with the "Constitution," which left 
Bremerhafen December 21, 1838. There 
was a small group of emigrants in New 
York, who, upon Stephan's advice, had trav- 
eled from Berlin with the intention of join- 
ing the Saxons after their arrival at St. Louis. 
The Buenger family, with these so-called 
"Berliners," or "Prussians," reached St. 
Louis shortly after Pentecost, 1839. Their 
arrival added another one hundred souls to 
the Stephan colony. 

The first of the Saxon emigrants to leave 
Bremerhafen sailed with the "Copernicus," 
under leadership of Pastor Buenger. She 
left November 3, 1838, and reached New 
Orleans December 31, the last day of the 
year. The second ship, with Pastor Ferdi- 
nand Walther and his brother-in-law, Pastor 
Keyl, the "Johann Georg," ran out a few 
hours after the "Copernicus," but she did 
not make port until January 5, 1839. The 
third ship, the "Republic," left nine days 
later, on November 12, and sailed into New 
Orleans January 12, 1838. Pastor Loeber 
came over with this ship. The "Olbers," the 
fourth ship with the Pastors Stephan and 
Otto Hermann Walther, whom Stephan had 
selected for his chaplain, did not leave until 
November 18. She made New Orleans 


Cfjc Cmtgrant 

January 20, 1839. The "Amalia," a fifth 
ship, also left Bremerhafen the same day. 
Nothing was ever heard of her, and she was 
undoubtedly lost at sea with all on board. 
Our Walther was to leave with this ship, but 
for some reason was refused passage on her. 
He then sought passage on the "Johann 
Georg," which left fifteen days before. All 
places were filled. Finally a young man, see- 
ing his anxiety to sail, offered him his place 
and sailed on another ship. Walther grate- 
fully accepted, and sailed on the "Johann 
Georg," under the young man's name. God's 
gracious providence prevented his sailing 
with the "Amalia," just as it prevented his 
friend Buenger, through the detention of his 
mother, from sailing with her, although he 
fervently pleaded with earnest daily prayer 
that his mother might be released before the 
last ship with his brethren in the faith had set 
sail. God had a work for His servants to do, 
and through those little things, upon which 
great events so often hinge, graciously and 
wonderfully guided their footsteps. Walther 
sails with his brother-in-law, Pastor Keyl, for 
the mutual strengthening of their faith; 
Buenger travels over New York, strengthens 
the brethren at that place, and leads the 
Berliners to Missouri. Incidentally, he is 


Doctor Carl 

also preserved from the folly, so bitterly de- 
plored by Keyl and the others, of recogniz- 
ing Stephan as his "God-given Bishop." For 
Stephan, after having first during the sea- 
voyage persuaded the people who traveled 
with him to confer this dignity upon him, 
somehow managed to persuade the balance 
of the emigrants, with but few exceptions, 
that it would be to their advantage to follow 
the example of the people who had come 
directly under his influence. He urged that 
there must be a central authority to direct all 
temporal and spiritual affairs, and, while he 
wished only to be the bishop's adviser, since 
there was no one else to fill the position it 
would be best to give it to him. Accordingly, 
during the trip up the Mississippi, a formal 
act of homage was formulated, which, a few 
days before they reached St. Louis, was sub- 
scribed by almost all of the emigrant com- 
pany. They therein pledged themselves with 
an oath to render implicit obedience in all 
things to their "God-given Bishop," to guard 
against all thoughts implying any lack of 
confidence in him and his doings, and to live, 
suffer and die under the episcopal form of 
Church government thus established by 
"Bishop" Stephan, who from this time on 
was regularly mentioned in the public papers 



of the congregation. Ferdinand Walther 
was not greatly impressed by these strange 
doings. He refused, for reasons of con- 
science, to subscribe to this act of allegiance 
and homage which Keyl, who had subscribed 
to it, afterwards very correctly declared to 
have been a piece of blasphemous folly. He 
also stood ready to openly oppose Stephan 
the moment he set up the claim that he held 
his episcopal office by divine right, and was, 
therefore, the occupant of a higher order of 
the ministry than the other pastors. So when 
Stephan's sin became public and Brohm 
urged Walther not to believe and say such 
things of Seiner Hochwurden ("His Emi- 
nence"), Walther was quite ready to rejoin: 
"Sag dock lieber, Seiner Nichtswuerden" 
("Rather say, His Worthlessness" ) . And 
if the Missouri Synod, the constitution and 
organization of which is so largely Walther' s 
work, in selecting names for its various of- 
fices and officers, carefully refrained from 
the use of the official nomenclature which 
obtains in Germany, it was no doubt some- 
what due to the repugnance Walther and its 
founders felt toward "Bishop" Stephan and 
his short-lived bishopric. 

For the moment all went well. There was 
no open opposition to Stephan and his as- 


doctor Carl Waltiiet 

sumption of ecclesiastical dignities and titles. 
True, the course of events, when taken to- 
gether with the loss of the "Amalia," could 
not fail to exert a depressing influence upon 
many hearts. But the emigrants were near- 
ing the end of a long voyage, and when at 
noon, February 19, 1839, four Mississippi 
River boats began to unload their passengers 
at St. Louis, adding about 750 souls to its 
12,000 inhabitants, the general feeling was 
joy rather than grief. A large house on 
Broadway, between St. Louis and Bremen 
Streets, near a landmark called "Indian 
Hill," which has long since disappeared, 
was rented as a dwelling for the leaders of 
the emigrant company, while its members 
scattered to find shelter wherever such was 
to be found. At last Walther was in St. 
Louis, where he was to live and labor until 
the day of his death, May 7, 1887, a period 
of forty-six years full of blessing for the 
Church of America. 

Koestering, who as pastor at Altenburg, 
Perry County, Mo., availed himself of the 
opportunity to carefully examine all docu- 
ments of this emigration association, pre- 
served in the archives of the Altenburg con- 
gregation, insists that it was the intention of 
the leaders of these people to establish a so- 


called "Christian Church State," with a 
bishop at its head here in America, "from 
whence all light and knowledge was to em- 
anate over the whole country." A somewhat 
ambitious scheme, but not one whit more so 
than those cherished by the many commu- 
nistic religious associations which lived their 
brief life in this new world. Koestering 
says : "We must admit that this association 
had formulated the best plans and had per- 
fected the most splendid arrangements for 
the securing of a great success ; moreover, the 
wealth of the association was great (125,000 
thalers), so that with prudent housekeeping 
and a wise use of these means great things 
might have been achieved." 

God had greater achievements in mind 
than the establishment of a wealthy commu- 
nistic colony. And the chosen vessel for their 
achievement was not "Bishop" Stephan, but 
Pastor Ferdinand Walther, whom, to dis- 
tinguish him from his elder brother, the peo- 
ple affectionately called "the little Walther" 
("der klelne Walther"}. David, not Saul, 
was to build and defend Israel. 


When on Jubilate Sunday, 1897, the Mis- 
souri Synod celebrated its fiftieth anniver- 
sary, Doctor A. L. Graebner preached a 
German sermon before the united congrega- 
tions of Detroit, Mich. The great assembly 
packed the Grey's Armory to the doors. 
He had published the first volume of his 
"History of the Lutheran Church in Amer- 
ica" in 1892, and had the material for the 
second volume well in hand. It is a great 
pity that he failed to complete the work be- 
fore his death, for Graebner, who had a his- 
torical mind, had gone into the documentary 
history of the period which antedated the or- 
ganization of the Synod with great thorough- 
ness. He summed it up in the text which he 
took for his Detroit anniversary sermon, a 
word spoken by David out of the depths of 
his own personal experience in the 18th 
Psalm : "Thy gentleness hath made me great" 
(v. 35). In Luther's version it reads: 
"Wenn du mich domiltigst, machst du mich 
gross" ("When Thou humblest me, Thou 
makest me great"). The Saxon emigrants 

were humbled, most profoundly humiliated 
and humbled, and that through the very man 
whom they had followed as another Moses. 
This especially applies to Walther, who, de- 
scribing the experience of his friend Buen- 
ger, again describes his own. He says : "Not 
only did the many fine hopes with which our 
Buenger, too, had emigrated in one brief 
moment vanish like dreams before the eyes 
of his soul, but the dreadful vision of a 
future full of great spiritual and bodily dis- 
tress presented itself to his spirit. Still, great 
as the confidence had been with which he had 
hitherto clung to Stephan, Stephan's person, 
praise God! had never been the foundation 
of his hope, but nothing else than God's 
word and God's grace in Christ. Therefore, 
he did not now despair. Yes, just at this 
moment, when God, so to speak, had 
wrenched the false support to which he had 
clung out of his hands, our Buenger, more 
than others, pressed forward to a great joy 
of believing." 

These words apply to Walther just as 
much as if he had written them of himself, 
instead of writing them of his Jonathan and 

St. Louis was not the goal of these Saxon 
emigrants, but only a meeting place. The 


Doctor Carl 

fourth paragraph of the voluminous articles 
adopted by the association says : "The place 
for settlement in the United States of North 
America is to be chosen in one of the West- 
ern States, in Missouri, Illinois or Indiana. 
For this reason (1F 5, Route) the City of St. 
Louis, located in the center of all these 
states, and their chief place of business, is 
to be the first point of destination." Accord- 
ingly, after promptly arranging regular Sun- 
day services, for which purpose Christ Pro- 
testant Episcopal Church loaned them the use 
of its basement, and establishing a school for 
their children, the emigrants began to seek 
out a desirable location for their colony. The 
whole Middle West was open to them, for 
they commanded what was in those days a 
very respectable capital for investment. Al- 
most four months elapsed, during which most 
of the emigrants depended upon the common 
treasury for their support, before a place 
was found to suit the wishes of Stephan. 
The Kreditkasse began to show signs of 
speedy depletion. Finally, after months of 
inaction, a selection of site was made and a 
tract of 4400 acres, about 110 miles south of 
St. Louis, purchased for the sum of $10,000, 
about $2.50 per acre, when government land 
was open for homestead or for sale at $1.25 

per acre. Stephan considered the site more 
beautiful than the Land of Promise, itself, 
which he, of course, had never seen. It is a 
hilly, broken country with a poor soil in the 
present Perry County, which the persistent 
German industry of these first settlers has de- 
veloped into a fair state of fertility. It had 
a good steamboat landing, an important thing 
in those days, which the colonists named 
Wittenberg. Five miles inland they located 
a village site which they called Altenburg. 
They gave fatherland names to all of their 
locations Dresden, Frohna, Seelitz, Jo- 
hannesburg and Paitzdorf. If not mis- 
erably homesick, they were at least not 
willing to forget the mother country. 
Climatic conditions were unfavorable. It 
was an ague or chills and fever country. 
Not a few of the colonists had become ill 
during the stay in St. Louis. A number had 
died without ever seeing the colony site they 
had come so far to secure. After their re- 
moval from St. Louis to the colony site, the 
unaccustomed climate, privations, work and 
pioneer conditions brought them down by the 
dozen. The removal took place before 
Pentecost, 1839, the last group with Pastor 
Loeber leaving St. Louis on May 29. A few 
of them remained in St. Louis, where they 


Doctor Carl 

had found employment. Their presence in 
the colony was not immediately needed. Still, 
Stephan intended that they, too, should come 
to Perry County, and so he directed that they 
were to bind themselves in no position for 
longer than one day. Here, again, man 
elected and God directed. This little group, 
which was first served by Pastor Loeber, 
later by O. H. Walther, became the nucleus 
of Trinity Church, St. Louis, for St. Louis, 
and not Altenburg, was to become the center 
"from whence light and knowledge were to 
emanate over the whole country." 

Stephan also removed to his "Land of 
Promise" shortly before Pentecost, 1839, for 
all things had to be done according to his 
episcopal directions. The settlement was or- 
ganized into the following parishes : 1. Wit- 
tenberg and Frohna, Pastor E. G. W. Keyl; 
2. Altenburg, Pastor G. H. Loeber; 3. See- 
litz, Pastor M. Buerger; 4. Dresden and 
Johannesburg, Pastor C. F. W. Walther; 5. 
Paitzdorf, Pastor C. F. Gruber. And so the 
young pastor who had resigned his office at 
Braunsdorf to escape conditions which 
seemed most intolerable, was again pastor 
of a congregation under conditions which, al- 
though still hidden from him, were even 
more intolerable. "Let every man abide in 


the same calling wherein he was called" has 
an especial application for the holy ministry. 
Running away, instead of waiting to be put 
out, usually means new and increased trou- 
bles. Luther protested and waited until they 
put him out. Walther would have saved him- 
self some qualms of conscience if he had fol- 
lowed Luther's example. 

Any man who has ever seen new settlers 
from Germany, who have never handled an 
axe or a rifle, go into "the forest primeval" 
to chop out a clearing, can imagine the condi- 
tion of these helpless, hapless Saxon emi- 
grants. To make matters worse, Stephan in- 
sisted upon planning and directing all their 
activities. Instead of building log cabins, 
planting a few potatoes, some corn and mak- 
ing a little garden, they began to make roads, 
build bridges, clear up meadows, etc., in a 
perfectly senseless attempt to make the wil- 
derness look like Neiderfrohna and Paitz- 
dorf at home. They lived and kept their 
goods in camps which offered them no real 
protection against the weather. Their pre- 
cious belongings spoiled, their wives and lit- 
tle ones became ill, strong men lay down 
in despair. Meanwhile Stephan acted as if 
their treasury was inexhaustible. He used 
4000 thalers in seven months (three of them 


Doctor Carl 

spent on shipboard) for his own household 
and personal comfort. Koestering says, 
"He fattened himself like a bullock for the 
sacrifice." Vigorous language again, but not 
too vigorous when we remember that he 
spent his time in designing his episcopal robes 
and planning his episcopal palace; and that 
he actually told these poor people from the 
pulpit (they worshiped in a camp or bower) : 
"Your laziness and idleness is the cause of 
the Church of God still being under a bower. 
And, what is worse, your bishop is compelled 
to live in a hog pen." Whereupon they im- 
mediately and obediently began the erection 
of a magnificently planned palace for His 
Eminence, the "God-given Bishop." 

On Rogate Sunday, the fifth Sunday after 
Easter, 1839, Pastor Gotthold Heinrich 
Loeber preached an earnest sermon to the 
little company of people who remained in St. 
Louis after Stephan and the other emigrants 
had removed to the colony. Pastor Loeber, 
one of the oldest of the ministers associated 
with Stephan, a man of deep theological 
knowledge and ripened experience, had been 
named by Stephan to act as his vicar. For 
some reason the other ministers, with the ex- 
ception of the elder Walther and Brohm, 
were still in the city. These two, Otto Her- 


mann Walther and Theodore Brohm, had 
accompanied Stephan, the former as his 

The selfsame day on which the congrega- 
tion had heard Pastor Loeber's sermon, two 
of its members, young women, came to him 
privately and separately and confessed them- 
selves to have been guilty of gross immoral- 
ity with Stephan. Neither knew of the other's 
sin nor of the other's intention to make such 
confession. That they should have told the 
untruth is impossible. They accused them- 
selves, not Stephan ; their self-accusation was 
calculated to bring them only shame and re- 
proach ; and if disproved they were bound to 
be excommunicated and cast out of the col- 
ony. Still Loeber had his doubts. He feared 
a possible slander or plot, a horrible mistake 
of some kind. He confided in Walther, and 
it says much for Walther' s character that he 
should have selected just him, the youngest 
of the Saxon pastors, for his confidant. 
Walther said: "I see in these revelations a 
gracious answer to my prayers. No later 
than last night I on my couch fervently called 
upon God to deliver me out of my distress 
of conscience, either by showing me the utter 
lack of foundation of my doubts with re- 
spect to Stephan, so that I. might unhesi- 


doctor Carl 

tatingly follow him, or, if Stephan is a false 
spirit, to so reveal him that I might with 
good conscience forsake him." He added: 
"And if you all remain with Stephan, I shall 
not go one step further with him, even if I, 
as a result, were to die in some roadside 
ditch." The young pastor, besides theolog- 
ical knowledge, had some determination of 
character, a very essential thing to-day as 
it was then. 

The two unfortunate young women had 
agreed to make their statements in writing, 
and, if necessary, to appear before court and 
testify to their correctness. This very much 
simplified matters, for it was all-important 
that any steps to be taken were to be dic- 
tated by real pastoral wisdom acting in strict- 
est accordance with the practice of the 
Church as laid down by the word of God. A 
meeting of the pastors and the leaders of the 
emigration association, the so-called "Coun- 
cil," was called and the matter presented for 
their consideration. The meeting unani- 
mously resolved to send Ferdinand Walther, 
in the company of a layman (a journeyman 
shoemaker) to Perry County to confront 
Stephan with the written proofs of his guilt. 
It was plainly the object of these men to 
spare him the shame of a public exposure 


by forcing a private admission of guilt, to- 
gether with his resignation and an equitable 
adjustment of the affairs committed to his 
charge. Meanwhile rumors of Stephan's 
conduct were spreading through the St. Louis 
congregation, filling the hearts of the poor, 
deceived people with consternation and 

Walther accepted the trying commission, 
and with his companion set out for the Wit- 
tenberg landing the week before Pentecost. 
Stephan had left strict directions forbidding 
anybody's coming to the colony without his 
permission or by his order. Unfamiliar with 
the river, where the boats, because of the 
swift current, always turn and land with the 
bow up stream, Walther, who had been given 
the mouth of the Obrazo River as his desti- 
nation, was unceremoniously pushed off the 
boat at night, landing, as he thought, on the 
Illinois side. Seeing the light of a fire in the 
distance, he, with his companion, made his 
way toward it until they came to the banks 
of the Obrazo. Here, by some good fortune, 
they found a small skiff, crossed over and 
met Stephan among the group at the fire. 
Astonished at the unexpected visit, Stephan 
only said, "See where you can find a lodging 
for the night," and left for his own dwelling. 


Doctor Carl 

That night Walther told one of the candi- 
dates, in Latin, what had brought him to the 
settlement. A lawyer, lying awake, under- 
stood the conversation. The next morning 
Walther went to Stephan. He met his 
brother, Otto Hermann, who had been taken 
in by an American family, before Stephan's 
house. The brothers embraced, but before 
they could exchange a sentence the door was 
suddenly opened, and Hermann Walther 
pushed Ferdinand into the house and 
Stephan's presence, leaving the "little 
Walther" to fight his battle alone. Stephan, 
despite the written testimony in Walther' s 
hands, persisted in denying any guilt, de- 
clared the charges to be a malicious slander, 
took Walther to task for coming to the 
colony uncalled, made a bitter attack upon 
Pastor Loeber, whom he called a poltroon, 
who permitted the people too many privi- 
leges, etc. There was nothing to be done. 
Walther then went to the leaders of the 
colony and presented the matter to them. 
Their consternation was indiscribable. The 
jurist, Doctor Adolph Marbach, a strong 
man, burst into tears when the written evi- 
dence was placed into his hands. Doctor of 
Laws C. E. Vehse again and again struck his 
forehead with his fist, saying, "O Doctor of 


Laws, O Doctor of Laws, how could you 
be so deceived!" It was for Walther, a 
youth of twenty-eight, to comfort these men. 
"Now," said he, "all will be well* for now 
it will appear that our emigration is a work 
of God, since we will be rid of this tyrant of 
conscience" ( Gewissenstyran ) . 

On the Monday after Whitsunday he 
preached in the bower or camp which served 
the purpose of a church, taking the place of 
his brother, who, as Stephan's chaplain, was 
to have conducted the service, but who gave 
up his place to Ferdinand while he preached 
at the landing. Walther took John 3 : 20 
for his text : "For every one that doeth evil 
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, 
lest his deeds should be reproved." While 
he made no direct reference to the events 
of the last few days, his hearers could not but 
feel that some shocking offence had been 
given which had hitherto been hidden from 
the, light of day. Now the rumor of 
Stephan's misconduct also spread through 
the colony, crushing the hearts of the poor 
people who had looked up to him as to an 
angel of God. The following Sunday 
Stephan himself occupied his own pulpit. But 
two persons came to hear him. The appre- 
hensions of the St. Loujg ministers, candi- 


Doctor Carl 

dates and members of the "Council," who 
feared a division among the emigrants, were 

Meanwhile Ferdinand Walther had re- 
turned to St. Louis to make his report upon 
the result of his representations to Stephan 
and conditions in the colony. Not long after 
the majority of the St. Louis congregation, 
with Ferdinand Walther and the other pas- 
tors and candidates, went to Wittenberg by 
boat to confer with their brethren of the set- 
tlement. The members of the "Council" 
went to Stephan's house and again presented 
the charges, admonishing him to repentance. 
He denied unto the end. 

Upon the advice of their own legal 
authorities, who, as Hochstetter remarks, 
doubtless knew very much more of the laws 
of the Kingdom of Saxony than of the laws 
of the State of Missouri, the "Council," in 
strict accordance with Stephan's Auswan- 
derungs Ordnung (Articles of Association) , 
made its decision. He was deposed from 
his office, expelled from the colony and the 
State of Missouri, and his private property 
confiscated in restitution for the funds he 
had misappropriated and wasted. He was 
searched and deprived of the funds hidden 
on his person, because, so he said, he had 

$f eabp 

foreseen that he would treacherously and 
wickedly be thrust out helpless into the 
world. Still, the common treasury was 1100 
piastres short. He afterwards entered suit 
for $3000 against the emigrant colony, but 
was awarded damages only for the loss of 
his personal belongings. Then they rowed 
him across the Mississippi and landed him 
on the Illinois side, near a place, says Koes- 
tering, "well-known to all sailors on the Mis- 
sissippi as the 'Devil's Bakeoven,' because 
there is at that point a dangerous place in 
the river, where many a ship and many a 
human life has been lost." 

His implication is plain. But did he make 
complete shipwreck of his faith? Did he 
become a castaway? Was he forever lost? 
Who can tell? Koestering, therefore, only 
says: "He died, in all probability, as he had 
lived in his sins." Even that is not cer- 
tainly known. Without forcing scriptural 
allusions there is something in the tragic fate 
of this man which again and again reminds 
us of Israel's first king. Let us not overlook 
that David was the first to mourn over him. 
"Then David took hold on his clothes and 
rent them ; and likewise all the men that were 
with him; and they mourned, and wept, and 
fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jona- 


doctor Carl 

than, his son, and for the people of the Lord, 
and for the house of Israel; for they were 
fallen by the sword" (2 Sam. 1 : 11, 12). 


Chapter 10 

Clearing tye <$rotmb 

Years ago, in the backwoods of Michigan 
and Wisconsin, one could often see a slash- 
ing of virgin timber after it had been fired 
for clearing. The mighty trees had been 
ruthlessly cut down in windrows and then on 
some favorable day set on fire. The result 
was complete, black, bare desolation. There 
was no sign whatever of any green, living 
thing. Only charred logs, stumps, ashes, 
sad and mournful as death and despair. One 
could hardly bear to look at it. And yet, it 
was the first indispensable step toward a 
future harvest. The ground had to be 
cleared before the good seed could take root 
and grow. The condition of the Saxon emi- 
grants after the events described in the last 
chapter was exactly that of a burnt-over 
slashing. A heavy pall of blank hopeless 
despair descended upon the whole colony. 
Even Walther, now that the strain was past 
and the inevitable reaction set in, became 
seriously ill. Unable to perform the duties 
of his office, he, for a time, lived with Pastor 
Keyl and his sister, recuperating and reading 


Doctor Carl Walfytv 

Luther and the Lutheran fathers, which he 
found in Keyl's splendid library. Koestering 
says something about his "lucid intervals" 
(die Uchten Augenblicke, die er hatte), 
which can only mean those days when he 
was relatively free from despondency and 
anxious care. 

A number of circumstances combined to 
increase the despondency of the unfortunate 
people. First, the judgment of the world. 
Like David, Stephan had "given great occa- 
sion to the enemies of the Lord to blas- 
pheme," and they took great occasion to 
avail themselves of the opportunity. The 
medium for the expression of this reproach 
was a German paper published in St. Louis, 
Der Anzeiger des Western. Its editor and 
correspondents saw to it that the name 
"Stephanist," which they unfeelingly at- 
tached to these poor deceived people, be- 
came a term of opprobrium and reproach. 
"Their name was made to stink" among 
their fellow-men. Even Christian people 
shunned their company, fearing to share 
their reproach. 

In a somewhat hopeless attempt to re- 
move this offence, the Saxon ministers, upon 
their return to St. Louis after the trial and 
deposition of Stephan, did what under ordi- 


Clearing tfje OBrounb 

nary circumstances is seldom a wise thing to 
do they made a public statement in the 
press. They frankly and briefly admitted 
Stephan's guilt, referred to a mistaken de- 
fence they had previously made, pleaded 
their ignorance of any wrongdoing on his 
part, gave thanks to God for having opened 
their eyes, renounced all connection with him, 
and expressed the hope that they might be 
spared the damaging consequences of his 
great offence. This declaration was signed 
on May 27, 1839, by Gotthold H. Loeber, 
pastor; Ernst G. W. Keyl, pastor; Ernst 
Moritz Buerger, pastor; Carl Ferdinand 
Wilhelm Walther, pastor; (and at the same 
time in the name of their two absent brethren 
in office), Otto Hermann Walther, pastor; 
Maximilian Oertel, pastor. 

This Oertel, a pupil of the Barmen Mis- 
sionshaus, had come to St. Louis as pastor of 
the "Berliners" from New York. He soon 
left, returned to New York, became a con- 
vert to Rome, and editor of a German Cath- 
olic religious paper. Koestering calls him 
"a miserable 'Mameluk' and apostate," and 
says, "He permitted himself to be kissed and 
taken into her lap by the Roman harlot." 
Koestering never leaves any doubt as to his 
meaning, At any rate, Oertel's apostasy 


Doctor Carl 

meant more and increased offence another 
charred black stump for time to remove. 

The declaration of the Saxon pastors was 
published by Der Anzeiger des West ens, 
June 1, 1839. It hardly had the desired 
effect, for Walther, who, after the death of 
his brother, Otto Hermann, became pastor 
of Trinity Church, St. Louis, in 1841, to- 
gether with this congregation, published a 
similar statement. It was provoked by at- 
tacks published in the Anzeiger des Westens, 
at the instance of a certain Sproede. After 
pointing to and reiterating the frank state- 
ment published in 1839, Walther, with his 
congregation, says this: "It is not becom- 
ing for us to judge whether or not we now, 
as we profess, are striving in doctrine and 
life to reach the high goal set for us by the 
Evangelical Lutheran Church. Let him who 
desires to convince himself come and see and 
hear; our church, our congregational meet- 
ings and our homes are open to every man. 
We are not sneaking about in corners, but we 
are acting openly before all the world." The 
last sentence contains the point. The world 
cares very little for public statements and 
protestations. The one thing that the world 
respects is Christian living. The only thing 
to do with a public offence is to live it down. 

Clearing t&e 

It is slow work, but it never fails of success. 
Dire bodily need and great distress also 
promptly followed Stephan's removal. It 
would have come in any event. The four 
months of inaction at St. Louis, the land 
purchase, together with other equally im- 
prudent purchases of stock, implements, 
etc., above all, the foolish wastefulness of 
the "bishop," who was so unquestioningly 
followed by his blinded adherents, had ex- 
hausted the funds of the Kreditkasse (com- 
mon treasury) . The fearful disappointment 
shattered all confidence in their leaders as 
well as the confidence of the people in each 
other. Repeated revision not alone of all 
accounts but of all plans and arrangements 
made under Stephan's leadership was the 
order of the day. This led to a complete 
abandonment of all communistic schemes 
and ideals, together with a division of the 
4400-acre tract into small holdings, which 
were awarded to the various colonists upon 
a basis which, however equitable it might 
seem to be under the circumstances, was still 
bound to cause great dissatisfaction. For in- 
stance, Pastor Keyl, who had cheerfully 
placed the major part of his paternal inher- 
itance, a sum of 5360 thalers, into the Kred- 
itkasse, received in their stead a little piece 


Doctor Carl 

of land near Frohna, valued at about $600. 
Fortunately there was a small habitable 
building on it, and so Keyl managed to house 
his large library and the magnificent Vienna 
grand piano he had brought with him from 
Germany. For Keyl, like Walther, was also 
a gifted musician, and he often entertained 
his American neighbors at Frohna with a 
masterly rendering of Bach or Mendelssohn, 
at a time when the limit of musical culture in 
this country was set by a backwoods fiddler 
playing "Turkey in the Straw" or "Fisher's 

The dissolution of the emigration asso- 
ciation and abandonment of communal ad- 
ministration promptly promoted freedom of 
action and gave opportunity for individual 
initiative. The various families immediately 
began to establish their own hearths and 
homes. But these Saxon linen weavers and 
stocking knitters at first made poor progress 
with their clearing and house building. They 
usually returned at night from their unac- 
customed tasks with bleeding hands and ach- 
ing bodies. Their American neighbors said 
they would starve, and, from all appearances, 
they were right. At times they were reduced 
to making a meal of roasted corn or grinding 
cornmeal in a coffee mill. With true back- 

Clearing tfje <$rounb 

woods helpfulness their American neighbors 
assisted them with their advice and charity. 
One of their greatest difficulties was the lack 
of water supply during the summer droughts, 
when the streams dried up and the wells gave 
out. Pastor Buerger writes : "My wife and 
children lacked a drop of water in their 
fever heat." Later they began to build deep 
cisterns, hewing the excavations out of the 
rock underlying the poor soil. The unac- 
customed summer heat and prevalent malaria 
also did their part to dishearten these poor 
people, who, in their struggles, were often 
overcome by intense fatigue and illness, if 
not by discouragement and despair. Some 
of their strongest men died, leaving helpless 
families to be cared for by others. "All of 
this," says Koestering, "had to come that 
they might be weaned away from putting 
their trust in man and cast themselves into 
the arms of God's gracious providence." 
Nor did this providence fail them. With 
His help, they managed to overcome all dif- 

Their first result, however, was a strength- 
ening of the St. Louis congregation, for 
many of the colonists returned to the city, 
where they found employment and a living 
for their families. St. Louis, and not Perry 


Doctor atari 

County, was, by God's gracious leading, to 
become the center of "Missouri" Lutheran- 
ism in America. 

But far heavier to bear than these out- 
ward trials, the reproach of the world and 
the bitter, biting poverty of their outward 
circumstances, were the qualms and accusa- 
tions of conscience which now assailed them. 
They were Lutheran Christians, and as such 
desired, above all other things, to remain 
faithful to their Lord and His holy Church. 
They had come to America with the hope of 
preserving the most holy treasures of the 
Reformation Church for themselves and 
their children. And now? The acting 
bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church 
correctly gauged the situation. He said to 
Doctor Vehse, who spoke of the recent hap- 
penings as a dire misfortune to the Saxon 
emigrants : "Not only for you, sir, it 's a 
misfortune for us all, for the whole Chris- 
tianity." "He distinctly implied," says 
Vehse, "that all ministers of all confessions 
in America would suffer through these 
things." And, judging by all appearances, 
he was right. 

Doctor Jacobs describes the spiritual con- 
flicts confronting these people, and especially 
their pastors, as follows : "Was not the emi- 


Clearing tfje <$rounb 

gration a sin? Were they warranted, with- 
out a clearer indication of Providence, in 
abandoning the places where they had been 
put by God's call in Germany? Were they 
actually ministers, properly called and prop- 
erly administering the word and sacraments 
to their congregations? Should not those 
who had come against God's will, and with 
duties still unfulfilled in Germany, return and 
be released from their previous obligations 
in a legal way before they could expect God's 
blessing upon their labors in the New World ? 
Such were the questions they discussed with 
one another, and keenly pondered in their 
hearts. A most tender conscience did not 
cease to harass Walther with accusations 
concerning his want of fidelity as a pastor, 
and to suggest that one who had been so re- 
miss in duty should abandon the office." 

Pastor E. M. Buerger, at Seelitz, sus- 
pended himself from office, and declined to 
administer the holy communion, because he 
held that he was not and could not be law- 
fully called by the Seelitz congregation. 
Pastor Loeber, who had resigned his office 
in Germany without permission of the civil 
authorities, was tempted to now resign again 
and either return to Germany or remain 
in America as a layman. Doctor Marbach, 


Doctor Carl t^altfjer 

the jurist, had the gravest doubts as to 
whether the Saxon congregations were Chris- 
tian churches with the power of calling min- 
isters and excommunicating impenitent sin- 
ners. A certain Sproede emphatically in- 
sisted that they were not. Both he and Mar- 
bach refused to attend public services, con- 
tenting themselves with family worship at 
home. The candidates refused to preach at 
the landing, and questioned whether they 
could be lawfully called or act as vicars to 
the pastors in office. Earnest Christians, like 
Tax Collector Barthel, were inclined to agree 
with them and Doctor Marbach. Doctor 
Vehse wrote on these questions and published 
his writings. The confusion was indescrib- 
able. Walther himself is filled with doubt 
as to the lawfulness of his call. He writes to 
Fuerbringer : "I can find no peace. My heart 
is in deep distress. According to what you 
tell me, a congregation certainly has the 
power in such cases to dismiss its pastor 
called unlawfully and without proper knowl- 
edge of his person. Would it, under the 
present disquiet of conscience, perhaps not 
be more advisable to persuade the congrega- 
tion to either dismiss me, or, at least, to sus- 
pend me until there is complete light in this 
matter? Or ought I not request my dismis- 


Clearing tje <$rounb 

sal, or at least suspend myself? You can 
readily think with what distress I now study 
the many sermons which lie before me" (he 
means his own) "and how they will undoubt- 
edly bear the stamp of my heart loaded with 
doubt, shame, disquiet, helplessness and un- 
certainty. Oh, how bitter are the fruits of 
sin, of servitude to man, of unfaithfulness 
and of a falling away from God's word! 

"If possible, come in person to me, poor, 
lame being, and if it is only for an hour; if 
you cannot, write me and send me what 
Spener, according to that note, says of dis- 
missal" (Remotion). 

Walther signs: "Your God's deserved 
wrath-bearing Walther." The letter is dated 
"Johnson's Farm, April 14, 1840," almost 
a year after Stephan's expulsion from the 
colony. But his doubts and spiritual trials 
continue, for in November of the same year 
his brother writes him a beautiful letter of 
comfort, in which this sentence occurs : "One 
thing is needful. This also applies to you. 
You lack only this one thing in which all else 
is given. Your excerpts concerning the call 
avail you nothing if you do not first assure 
yourself of your call in Him unto His ever- 
lasting kingdom of grace. In Him all is then 
right and all that is crooked straight," 


doctor Carl t^altfjer 

He also speaks of Ferdinand Walther's 
long and serious illness and his present weak- 
ness of body and soul. This illness was in 
no small part a result of the bitter self-accu- 
sation and self-reproach with which he, to- 
gether with the other pastors, harassed them- 
selves and each other. That the people 
should reproach them for having failed to 
sooner discover Stephan's sin and blindly fol- 
lowing him, led them into their present dis- 
tress was to be expected. But the pastors 
and candidates by far outdid the people. In 
a letter to his brother, Ferdinand Walther 
exclaims: "Poor congregation which has 
such defiled shepherds!" In his letter to 
Fuerbringer, quoted above, he speaks of "the 
fearful stains which certainly attach to me." 
He means his doubt, his uncertainty, his for- 
mer adherence to Stephan, his following of 
his leadership, his disquiet, his helplessness, 
his servitude to man, his having departed 
from God's word, his having been unfaith- 
ful, etc. Our greatest troubles and the hard- 
est to bear are those we make ourselves. 
These poor Saxon ministers and candidates 
made themselves trouble upon trouble. 
"Some of the candidates," Koestering says, 
"walked about loaded down with melancholy, 
as if mentally disordered." 

Clearing tfte <$rounb 

The discussions and debates were unend- 
ing. It was impossible to escape them. In 
the homes, in the gatherings of neighbors, in 
the meetings of the clergy, the same ques- 
tions were raised again and again. Their 
solution seemed impossible. A splitting up 
of the colony into a pitiable host of little 
separatistic groups seemed inevitable. The 
pendulum, which under "Bishop" Stephan 
had swung so far toward Rome, now swung 
back just as far toward the Donatistic error, 
which denies the character of a Church to any 
but a perfecly pure and sinless Church body. 
These people, who had held themselves to 
be the only true Church visible on earth, now 
doubted or denied that they were Christians 
or a Church at all. They, who had been in- 
clined to make the validity of the holy sac- 
raments dependent upon ordination at the 
hands of Stephan, now questioned the valid- 
ity of any and every official ministerial act. 
They, who had formerly been tempted to 
limit salvation to a use of the means of grace 
dispensed by Stephan and his adherents, now 
questioned the possibility of their being 
saved under any condition or circumstance 
whatsoever. In short, their whole emigra- 
tion, which they had once looked upon as a 
great work of God, now seemed to be only 


doctor Carl 

a work of the devil himself. Could self- 
humiliation go any further than that? A 
bare, black, burnt-over slashing, a picture of 
death and despair. And yet, although men 
could not see it, it was the peremptory condi- 
tion of sound and vigorous development. 
The ground was cleared for the harvest to 
come. Nor was there a long wait for the 
sowing of the seed, and a prompt fulfillment 
of the precious promise : "So shall my word 
be that goeth forth out of my mouth ; it shall 
not return unto me void, but it shall accom- 
plish that which I please, and it shall prosper 
in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55 : 11) . 

Cfwpter U 


One is almost tempted to select the word 
"Reconstruction" for the head of this chap- 
ter. Men use it of their doings, but their at- 
tempts at reconstruction are always more or 
less a failure. God Himself is the great 
Reconstructor. He casts down only to lift 
up ; He takes away only to give ; He humbles 
only to exalt; He destroys only to build. 

It was so here. As we look back to-day, 
the first token of His gracious leadings 
among these people for the upbuilding of 
His Lutheran Zion in this country, was a 
notice which appeared in the St. Louis An- 
zeiger des Westens, the same paper in which 
the Saxon pastors, on June 1, 1839, had pub- 
lished their humiliating declaration, plead- 
ing that they might be spared the damaging 
consequences of Stephan's great offence and 
their blind adherence to him. This other 
notice was published a few weeks later, in the 
summer of 1839. It read as follows: 


We, the undersigned, intend to establish an institu- 
tion of instruction and education, which distinguishes 


Doctor Carl 

itself from ordinary elementary schools, especially 
by this, that it comprises, besides the ordinary branches, 
all gymnasium sciences (Gymnasial-wissenschaften) 
necessary to a true Christian and scientific education, 
as: Religion, the Latin, Greek and Hebrew, German, 
French and English languages, History, Geography, 
Mathematics, Physics, Natural History, Elementary 
Philosophy, Music, Drawing. The pupils of our insti- 
tution are to be so far advanced in the above named 
studies, that they, after absolving a complete course of 
study, shall be qualified for university studies. The 
esteemed parents, who may desire to place their chil- 
dren with our institution, are requested to make in- 
quiries regarding its plan and arrangements of Pastor 
O. H. Walther, in St. Louis, Poplar Street, No. 14, 
between First and Second Streets. Instructions are 
to begin, God willing, on the ist of October of this 

The settlement of the German Lutherans in Perry 
County, near the Obrazo, August 13, 1839. 



So here was an "Institution of Instruc- 
tion," a full-fledged college, with a curricu- 
lum and faculty which might bear compari- 
son with Yale or Harvard of those days, at 
"the Settlement of the German Lutherans 
in Perry County, near the Obrazo." Indeed, 
it might be said to go beyond them, for its 
faculty knew the difference between a college 
and a university; and the German university 
was not transplanted to America until the 



founding of Johns Hopkins University in 
1876. It is interesting to note that Horace 
Mann, who inaugurated the so-called educa- 
tional revival in America, after making a 
careful study of the school system of Ger- 
many, established the first American normal 
school in Massachusetts in 1839, the same 
year which saw the establishment of the col- 
lege "near the Obrazo," and the beginning 
of the great work of the "Missourians" in 
the field of Christian education. At the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of Johns Hopkins 
University, President Angell, of Michigan, 
seconding a splendid acknowledgment made 
by President Eliot, of Harvard, said this: 
"What makes a great university is not bricks 
and mortar, but men." What makes any 
school is not bricks and mortar, but men. 
The school founded in Perry County had a 
faculty composed of men. If proof were 
needed for this statement we might point to 
the fact that the members of the faculty with 
their own hands erected the log cabin college 
building. And the first name on the faculty 
list was C. Ferdinand W. Walther. 

As usual, it is difficult, or rather impos- 
sible, to say who first broached the idea of 
founding a full-fledged gymnasium ( for such 
it was) in the backwoods of Perry County. 


Doctor Carl 

Walther gives the best account of its estab- 
lishment in his biography of Buenger, whom 
he calls "a practical genius," because he with 
his two brothers and sisters, upon his arrival 
in the settlement, promptly built a log house 
for the family. Speaking of the college, he 
says : "Although at that time the large num- 
ber of pastors and candidates, who had also 
emigrated, assured the emigrant congrega- 
tions a sufficient supply of teachers (Lehr- 
kraefte) for a longer period of years, never- 
theless the three candidates at that time still 
resident in Perry County, Brohm, Fuer- 
bringer and Buenger, recognized it to be 
their duty not to slothfully and carelessly 
leave the founding of institutions for the 
training and education of faithful teachers 
and ministers to the future. The solicitude 
for the future of the children with respect 
to Church and school, had been the strong- 
est motive for the emigration of the Saxon 
Lutherans to America. Inexpressibly pitia- 
ble as were the efforts required to make pro- 
vision of daily bread for the poor body 
from day to day, the care for bread for the 
soul still remained the chief care and the 
chief task, for they firmly held to the word 
of the Lord: "Therefore take no thought, 
saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall 



we drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His 
righteousness; and all these things shall be 
added unto you" (Matt. 6:31, 33). With 
great joy the pastors at that date resident in 
Perry County, Loeber, Keyl and the younger 
Walther, entered upon the plan to at first 
establish a college, and promised their active 
support. Naturally, in view of the still 
present great lack of rooms in the settlement, 
which was just struggling into existence, the 
first great need (after the purchase of six 
acres of ground, arranged by Brohm, Fuer- 
bringer, Buenger and Walther) was the 
erection of a little hut (Huettlein) for 
the projected institution. Several mem- 
bers of the congregations were indeed also 
found, who, severe as was their struggle 
for their own daily needs, nevertheless at 
once promised their aid toward the erec- 
tion of the building, and faithfully, so 
far as they were able, kept what they 
had promised; still, the chief work had 
to be done by the beloved candidates them- 
selves. There it was our Buenger, who out- 
did all others when it now came to felling 
trees, sawing and hewing logs, splitting fence 
rails, removing stumps, grubbing out brush 
and weeds, clearing the ground for its pur- 


Doctor Carl l^aitfjer 

pose, and finally to put the prepared material 
together and the like. Buenger dug the still 
existing college well with his own hands 
alone. The little money, absolutely neces- 
sary fo'r the purchase of those materials 
which the forest itself did not furnish, came 
from the congregation which remained in St. 
Louis, where the elder, O. H. Walther, had 
been called. After the log cabin finally stood 
and was dedicated, there was a joy, the 
heartiness of which only he can feel who has 
once shared and tasted it." 

The translation is stiff, but Walther' s flow- 
ing German, with its "dochs" and "zwars" 
and "dennochs," is not easy to render, unless 
you are willing to give his sense and ignore 
his syntax. Koestering's account is real gos- 
sipy. He supplies a few details, the most in- 
teresting of which is a rude woodcut showing 
a one-room log cabin beside a Saxon Fach- 
werk (timbered) dwelling. He also says 
that Otto Hermann Walther sent a poem he 
had written for the dedication, whifch he 
quotes in full. 

On Madeline Island, in Lake Superior, off 
Ashland, Wisconsin, there is a log cabin 
chapel said to have been built by the Jesuit 
Father, Pierre Marquette. They have his 
statue in the capitol at Washington. This 



chapel is completely enclosed within another 
building for its preservation. They have re- 
cently done the same thing with the log cabin 
college building, "near the Obrazo," in Perry 
County, Missouri, which suggests this ques- 
tion : "Which of the two log cabins has done 
most for this country?" For a Lutheran, 
acquainted with the teachings and work of 
his Church, there can be but one answer. 

The "so-called" college (the English name 
still came a little hard) was opened in De- 
cember with seven students, among them Fr. 
J. Biltz, J. A. F. W. Miller and Ch. H. 
Loeber, young men who afterwards became 
prominent in the Missouri Synod. Originally 
young women also were offered a higher 
education at this institution. The four who 
attended were taught by Pastor Loeber. 
Pressed by the supreme need of providing 
ministers for its congregations, the Missouri 
Synod has not made the same full provision 
for the education of women that it made for 
the education of men. The Synod was cor- 
rectly inclined to leave that to the initiative 
of local congregations or congregational 
groups. But the precedent was established 
at the very first higher institution of learning, 
which while not a co-educational school, 
nevertheless attempted to make full pro- 


Doctor Carl faltf)er 

vision for the higher education of women. 
This fact is an additional honor both to the 
institution and the men who called it into 

Like all young things, the college "near 
the Obrazo" at first led a precarious ex- 
istence. Of course, the members of the fac- 
ulty received no salaries. Who was to pay 
them? It may be doubted that they always 
had enough to eat. Pastor Walther, after 
the death of his brother, in 1841, followed 
a call to Trinity Church, St. Louis. Candi- 
date Buenger also came to Trinity in July, 
1841, and took charge of its parish school, 
which wonderfully prospered under his effi- 
cient administration. That left Fuerbringer 
and Brohm in charge. They carefully 
watered and nursed the little plant for two 
years. Then Fuerbringer was called to Illi- 
nois. Brohm continued the work with the 
assistance of Pastor Loeber. After Brohm 
accepted a call to New York, Pastor Loeber, 
assisted by Pastor Keyl, kept the college 
alive. Finally, in 1843, when Pastor Loeber's 
failing health made it impossible for him to 
continue the work at the college while per- 
forming his ordinary pastoral duties, the St. 
Louis congregation, under leadership of its 
pastor, Walther, began a careful delibera- 



tion of the college question. It was recog- 
nized that St. Louis was the proper location 
for the institution, but the time for its re- 
moval was not opportune. The Perry 
County people clung to their child, but con- 
sented to make it a jointly owned property 
of their and the St. Louis congregations. 
Candidate J. J. Goenner was called as 
teacher and rector of the institution, with the 
promise of a definite salary. A college so- 
ciety (Gesellschaft fuer das College} was 
organized, the parent and model of the 
present "Lutheran Educational Societies" of 
New York and Chicago, which have done 
such splendid work for the upbuilding of 
Concordia at Bronxville and the Teachers' 
Seminary at River Forest. 

In 1849, two years after the organization 
of the Missouri Synod, the congregations 
owning the college offered to present it to the 
Synod. This, by the way, is the usual history 
of college development in the Missouri 
Synod. Established and fostered by local 
congregations, they are presented to the 
Synod after they have proved their worth. 
The offer of the St. Louis and Perry County 
congregations was gratefully accepted, and 
the college moved to St. Louis, where Trinity 
Church presented it with a city building site 


doctor Carl U^aitfjer 

of two acres, subscribed $2000 toward a 
building fund, and pledged the net proceeds 
of its cemetery and the recently published 
hymnal for its support. Trinity also per- 
mitted its beloved Pastor Walther to accept 
the call of the Synod as regular Professor of 
Theology and President of the institution, to 
take the place of Pastor Loeber, who died 
August 13, 1849, just ten years after the 
publication of the notice announcing the 
foundation of the institution "at the Settle- 
ment of the German Lutherans in Perry 
County, near the Obrazo," which was dated 
August 13, 1839. Walther's name again 
headed the faculty list, where it was to re- 
main until his death. The congregation, 
however, stipulated that Walther was to re- 
main its pastor. Another vicar was to be 
called, who, like Pastor Buenger, was to do 
all visiting and perform all purely pastoral 
duties. Walther, besides retaining the super- 
vision and direction of all congregational 
affairs, and attending, as far as possible, all 
official meetings, was to preach thirteen times 
a year, including chief festival days condi- 
tions which Walther gladly accepted. He 
correctly felt that a Professor of Theology, 
training* young men for the holy ministry, 
ought to remain in direct and constant touch 



with the ever old and ever new problems of 
practical church work. 

He began his work as Professor and Presi- 
dent of the college in January, 1850, giving 
his first lectures in his dwelling on Lombard 
Street, between Third and Fourth Streets. 
There were six students of theology and two 
students in the college or gymnasium. After 
the completion of the college building, in 
June of the same year, Professor Walther, 
on June 4, removed to it, for he was to live 
among his students.. True to Leipzig tradi- 
tions, he delivered a Latin oration at its dedi- 
cation on June 11. 

The fathers always speak of this college 
building as the south wing (der Suedfluegel} , 
for they did the same thing our former Secre- 
tary of Agriculture did with the Department 
building at Washington, erected two wings, 
proposing to join them later with a central 
building. This "south wing" was not very 
much of a wing. It was rather an ordinary- 
sized brick dwelling, 42 x 36, with basement 
and two stories. In it they somehow found 
room for Walther and his family, another 
teacher or professor, the steward with his 
family, and the sixteen students, whose num- 
ber soon increased. Where they put them all 
is impossible to say. At any rate, they put 


doctor Carl laltijer 

them as close to Walther as they possibly 
could. They correctly felt that a Professor 
of Theology, above all other teachers, ought 
to be near his students, daily teaching and 
inspiring them, not only by precept, but above 
all, by example. That they were right is suf- 
ficiently proved by the calibre of the men who 
were trained, not only under Walther's eye, 
but in constant daily association with him. 
Under God's providence they made, or 
rather, he through them made, the Missouri 
Synod. As Doctor Jacobs so correctly says : 
"His life is so closely connected with that of 
the powerful Synod which he organized and 
which was the expression of his own spirit, 
that even the details of his private biography 
belong to the history of the Church." If 
the Synod is "the expression of Walther's 
own spirit," it is such because he founded, 
organized and developed its own system of 
Christian education, from the parish school 
up to the theological seminary or university 
proper. For it is apparent that one of the 
aims at the organization of the Synodical 
Conference, in 1872, with the provision that 
each of the constituent Synods was to estab- 
lish and maintain a chair at St. Louis, and 
ultimately send all their theological students 
to that place for training, was the establish- 



ment of a great central institution of learn- 
ig> a great Lutheran University in the very 
heart of America. While not openly out- 
spoken or discussed, this must have been in 
the minds of Walther and his co-laborers. 
The unfortunate predestination controversy 
of the eighties spoiled that plan and threw 
back the development of the Church for 
many years. But that is another story. 

The gymnasium or college proper was 
separated from the seminary and removed 
to Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1861. Concordia, 
Fort Wayne, thus became the mater and 
model of all the other Concordias since es- 
tablished at strategic points in this country. 
The seminary remained at St. Louis. A new 
seminary building was dedicated in 1883, in 
the presence of 20,000 people. "The splen- 
did edifice," Hochstetter says, "like the bride 
of a king, overlooked all its neighbors." 
Despite the erection of an addition, which 
has sadly marred the appearance of "the 
king's bride," the seminary building is again 
too small, for it is called upon to house 328 
students of theology, the largest number en- 
rolled at any one Protestant theological sem- 
inary in America. To this number we must 
add the 229 students of theology, enrolled at 
the so-called "Practical Seminary," an institu- 


doctor Carl 

tion founded by Pfarrer Loehe, of Nuendet- 
telsau, Bavaria, in Fort Wayne, in 1846, for 
the training of gifted young men as Nothel- 
fer, to assist in the shepherding of the Luth- 
eran multitudes pouring into this country. 
After various vicissitudes, this institution 
finally found a permanent home in the build- 
ing of the former "Illinois State University," 
founded by Doctor Passavant in 1854, dedi- 
cated with an address by Abraham Lincoln 
and purchased through the Springfield con- 
gregation from the Pennsylvania Minis- 
terium in 1874. 

All of this out of a little one-room log 
cabin college, established by faith "at the 
Settlement of the German Lutherans in 
Perry County, near the Obrazo." 


Chapter 12 


The establishment of the Perry County 
gymnasium by Walther and his associates 
was a great event, because it led to great 
things. An even greater event was the de- 
bate held within its rude walls in April, 1841, 
because it led to even greater things. This 
debate, together with the spiritual trials 
which preceded and invited it, as Koestering 
truthfully remarks, "served to sweep out of 
this communion the Stephanistic leaven and 
to lay the foundation of pure, sincere truth 
upon which the Evangelical Lutheran Synod 
of Missouri, Ohio and other States was after- 
wards built." In other words, this debate 
laid down and clearly established by an ap- 
peal to God's inspired word, as the source 
and fountain of all truth, certain funda- 
mental truths and principles concerning the 
Church and its organization, which were 
afterwards incorporated into the Constitu- 
tion of the Missouri Synod. As Walther 
wrote in the preface to his first great book, 
"The Voice of Our Church on the Question 
of Church and Office" : "We have not mod- 


Doctor Carl 

eled the teaching of our Church according 
to our circumstances, but these according to 
the teaching of our Church." 

But what did our Church teach? In 
the confusion which followed the deposing 
of Stephan, no one seemed to know. A more 
hopeless situation never confronted any body 
of men. If "hope deferred maketh the heart 
sick," utter absence of all hope or anything 
to ground hope on maketh sick without any 
prospect or without possibility of a cure. 
Such a condition means death of body and 

Walther was sick, sick unto death. Hoch- 
stetter talks about a malignant nervous gall 
fever and a persistent intermittent fever. 
Koestering speaks of "lucid intervals," which 
can only mean comparative freedom from 
periods of deep care and despondency. 
Walther was sick in soul as well as in body. 
And no wonder. Indeed, it is said of his 
brother, Otto Hermann, who died within 
two years after the coming of the Saxons to 
America, only thirty-one years old, that his 
deep and penitent remorse over his connec- 
tion with and attachment to Stephan was an 
indirect cause of his untimely death. This 
feeling was doubtless shared by his brother, 
Carl Ferdinand. It was aggravated by the 


JfounDatum taping 

condition of material poverty and hopeless 
spiritual confusion of the colony, a condition 
for which Walther's tender conscience would 
hardly fail to assume more than its full share 
of responsibility. But the greatest of these 
trials was the hopeless doctrinal uncertainty 
described in Chapter IX. Uncertainty and 
doubt with respect to the validity of his call 
and the lawfulness of his ministerial acts is 
a condition which no conscientious pastor 
can long endure. "The congregation lacked 
a firm doctrinal foundation," says Hoch- 
stetter, "consequently the hearts could not be 
established until they were established in the 
truth out of God's word." When he says 
"congregation," he includes the ministers. 
Although Walther had never accepted the 
hierarchical teachings of Stephan, it must, 
nevertheless, be said that he was not fully and 
firmly established in the truth afterwards so 
convincingly stated in his book, "Of the 
Church and the Office." This not only ap- 
pears from the letter in which his brother, 
Otto Hermann, tells him that his excerpts 
on the call will avail him nothing if he does 
not first assure himself of his call in Christ 
unto His eternal kingdom of grace, but 
Walther repeatedly admits this himself, not 
only in private, but also in public, For in- 


Doctor Carl falt|ier 

stance, when he speaks of the attitude he 
once assumed over against the "Public 
Protestation," published on November 23, 
1839, by Doctor Carl Eduard Vehse, Hein- 
rich Edward Fischer and Gustav Jaekel, 
Walther says: "It was principally this writ- 
ing which gave us a powerful impulse to 
more and more recognize and endeavor to 
put away the remaining perversion. With- 
out this writing I now acknowledge it with 
lively conviction we, perhaps, would still 
have gone many a false way, out of which 
we now have happily found ourselves. I 
confess this with the deeper shame, the more 
ungratefully I once conducted myself toward 
this precious gift of God. Unfaithfully as 
many, together with myself, acted toward the 
light given us, God, nevertheless, did not 
cease to make more and more rays of His 
truth penetrate our darkness, to tear us away 
from many things to which we in our per- 
verseness tried to hold, to reveal to us great, 
dangerous evils and to more and more lead 
our hearts in the way of truth." 

This Carl Eduard Vehse was a Doctor of 
Laws, who had come to America with the 
Saxon emigrants. After remaining here only 
ten months, he returned to Europe, where he 
published what Koestering, with some bias, 


calls "a rather partisan history" of the Saxon 
emigration. This book contains the "Public 
Protestation against the false medieval, 
papistic and sectarian Stephanistic system 
of. Church Government." It is a compila- 
tion of quotations, chiefly from Luther and 
the Confessions, as well as other recognized 
teachers of the Church, on the questions 
which agitated the Perry County and St. 
Louis congregations. 

Addressed to the Pastors Loeber, Keyl, 
Buerger and the Walther brothers, it has a 
foreword to the congregations. Briefly 
stated, the "Protestation" is an attempt to 
define the true doctrine of Church govern- 
ment and the proper relation between minis- 
ter and congregation. Presented by laymen, 
who point out that it was "the chief purpose 
of the whole emigration to make truly free 
here on this free soil the Evangelical Luth- 
eran Church, which had, indeed, been op- 
pressed, it," as Walther says, "gave them a 
powerful impulse to more and more recog- 
nize and endeavor to put away the remaining 
perversion." This "powerful impulse" pow- 
erfully impelled Walther, during his illness 
at the home of his brother-in-law, Pastor 
Keyl, to engross himself with a profound 
study of Luther along these lines, a study he 


Doctor Carl f&alt&er 

began as a candidate in his father's library 
and continued through his whole life. By 
God's grace he found that certainty without 
which no minister can ever hope "to be able 
by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince 
the gainsayers." He was thus equipped, 
when a public debate was arranged at the 
Altenburg log cabin college for a discussion 
of the question, "Are we still a Christian 
congregation?" to firmly establish these peo- 
ple in the truth of the divine word. And thus 
it can and must be truthfully said: "In this 
distress, when it was believed that they were 
no longer a Christian congregation, but a 
disorderly company of people (Zusammen- 
gelaufener Haufe), lost for time and eter- 
nity, it was one man who saved them, the 
above named, Ferdinand Walther." -JR. 
Hoffmann, "Die Missouri Synode in Nord- 
amerika" Guetersloh, 1881. 

The Altenburg debate was held in April, 
1841, two years after God, by the exposure 
of Stephan's sin, had deprived the Saxon emi- 
grants of every human authority and support 
upon which they had once so confidently re- 
lied. Walther was opposed by Doctor Adolf 
Marbach, a learned and adroit jurist, who 
took the position that the colony, by sepa- 
rating itself from the Church of Germany, 



had ceased to be a Christian congregation, 
and become a disorderly group of people, 
absolutely lacking all power and authority 
to perform any ecclesiastical function what- 
soever. As the only proper solution of the 
difficulty, he urged a return to Europe, espe- 
cially of those emigrants who still had natural 
duties to fulfill at home; without, however, 
being able to suggest any way by which their 
return might be accomplished. 

Walther had made most careful written 
preparation for this debate, from which 
Koestering quotes at length. He points out 
two things which especially fill him with 
gravest apprehension. The first is the fail- 
ure to properly distinguish between deceivers 
and deceived and a consequent tyrannical de- 
mand that innocent people confess them- 
selves guilty of sins which they never com- 
mitted. Remembering his own personal ex- 
perience at his conversion, he asks : "Is not 
an especially high degree of knowledge of 
sin being made a condition of grace and 
salvation?" He insists: "A pennyweight of 
true poverty of spirit is worth more than a 
thousand hundredweight of mere head- 
knowledge of sin!" The other evil is the 
denial on the part of some of the presence 
among them not only of a Lutheran, but of 


Doctor Carl f^altfjer 

a Chrstian congregation, and the possibility 
of any lawful administration of the goods of 
the Church. Not content with keeping their 
doubts to themselves, the people that hold 
them stormily insist upon trying to impress 
them upon others as being irrefutable truths 
instead of mere uncertainties and doubts. 
Walther quotes Luther, who says of the en- 
thusiasts of his day that Satan through them 
brought forth nothing but uncertainty and 
doubt, and then they, disparaging everybody 
who disagreed with them, called their doubts 
Scripture and God's word. "For it is sin and 
a tempting of God, whoever is uncertain and 
doubtful in divine things; and whoever 
teaches uncertain notions for divine truth 
denies just as well as he who openly speaks 
against the truth ; for he speaks what he him- 
self does not know and still would have it 
be the truth" (Luther). 

After thus ruthlessly dissecting and laying 
bare existing evils, Walther proceeds to 
state the problem. "It is a question," he 
says, "of quieting of conscience, of the re- 
jection of false teaching, seeking to insinu- 
ate itself under the guise of humility, of the 
firm holding of the true doctrine of the 
Church, Church power, office, call, fellow- 
ship, power of the word and the divine order. 


It is not 2. question of any man's honor or 
justification, but of the honor of God." He 
embodied his teaching on these vital subjects 
in eight theses or sentences, which he success- 
fully defended by an appeal to the Scriptures 
and the Confessions of the Church, sup- 
ported and elucidated by the writings of 
Luther and other unquestioned authorities. 
Since they lay the foundation, not only for 
all of Walther's later writings on the subject 
of Church organization, but for the organi- 
zation of the Missouri Synod itself, they are 
quoted in full : 

The true Church, in the most real and most perfect 
sense, is the totality (Gesamtheit') of all true believers, 
who from the beginning to the end of the world have 
been called and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through 
the word out of all peoples and tongues. And since 
God alone knows these true believers (2 Tim. 2 : 19) , 
it is also called the invisible Church. No one belongs 
to this true Church who is not spiritually united with 
Christ, for it is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ. 


The name of the true Church also belongs to all 
those visible companies of men with whom God's word 
is purely taught and the holy sacraments are admin- 
istered according to the institution of Christ. True, hi 
this Church there are godless, hypocrites and heretics, 
but they are not true members of the same, nor do 
they constitute the Church. 


Doctor Carl falt&er 


The name Church, and, in a certain sense, the name 
true Church, also belongs to those visible companies of 
men who have united under the confession of a falsified 
faith, and, therefore, have incurred the guilt of a par- 
tial departure from the truth; provided they possess 
so much of God's word and the holy Sacraments in 
purity that children of God may thereby be born. 
When such companies are called true Churches, it is 
not the intention to state that they are faithful, but 
only that they are real Churches, as opposed to all 
worldly organizations (Gemeinschaften) . 


The name Church is not improperly applied to hetero- 
dox companies, but according to the manner of speech 
of the word of God itself. It is also not immaterial 
that this high name is allowed to such communions, 
for out of this follows: 

1. That members also of such companies may be 
saved, for without the Church there is no salvation. 


2. The outward separation of an heterodox company 
from an orthodox Church is not necessarily a separa- 
tion from the universal Christian Church, nor a re- 
lapse into heathenism, and does not yet deprive that 
company of the name Church. 


3. Even heterodox companies have Church power; 
even among them the goods of the Church may be 
validly administered, the ministry established, the Sac- 
raments validly administered, and the keys of the king- 
dom of heaven exercised. 


4. Even heterodox companies are not to be dissolved, 
but reformed. 



The orthodox Church is chiefly to be judged by the 
common orthodox, public confession upon which its 
members recognize themselves to have been pledged and 
to which they confess. 

Plainly the man is no compromising Church 
politician. He makes no attempt to unite 
divergent elements by ignoring real issues 
and urging mutual concessions, which never 
settle anything but only defer the day of final 
reckoning and inevitable division. Walther 
knows that there is no true unity but the unity 
in the one faith. He aims to unify before at- 
tempting to unite. He acts upon the word 
of his Lord: "If ye continue in my word, 
then are ye my disciples indeed ; and ye shall 
know the truth, and the truth shall make you 
free" (Job 8:31,32). Christian liberty and 
Christian unity through a knowledge of 
Christian truth, this was the principle and 
the goal of his every activity in the field of 
Church organization. It inspired the Alten- 
burg theses, and their amplification, elucida- 
tion and application both in his own writings 
on this subject as well as the doctrinal dis- 
cussions which are such an important feature 
at all sessions of the Synod organized under 
his leadership in 1847. Beginning with his 
book, "Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der 


Doctor Carl 

Frage von Kirche und Amt" ("The Voice of 
Our Church on the Question of Church and 
Office"), and continued in "Die Rechte 
Gestalt einer vom Staat unabhaenigigen Orts- 
gemeinde" ("The Correct Form of a Local 
Congregation Independent of the State"), 
the Altenburg theses "powerfully impelled" 
a discussion of the subject, "Die Evangelisch 
Lutherische Kirche, die wahre sichtbare 
Kirche auf Erden" (The Evangelical Luth- 
eran Church, the true Church visible upon 
earth"), which was presented and discussed 
by Walther at the sessions of the general 
Church body at St. Louis in 1866. Not con- 
tent with this, he presented and for thirteen 
years elaborated a subject at the sessions of 
the Western District of the Synod, which 
rings out like a paean of victory. "Only 
through the doctrine of the Lutheran Church 
is God alone given all glory, an irrefutable 
proof that her doctrine is the alone true." 
He completed this magnificent work in 1881, 
as it were closing his life work, with the mot- 
to which had inspired his every thought and 
deed, Soli Deo Gloria! (To God alone be 
glory!) It all grew out of the Altenburg 
debate, the first effect of which was a "quiet- 
ing of troubled consciences by the rejecting 
of error and establishing in the truth" of a 

little group of Saxon immigrants in Perry 
County, Missouri. Verily "it is a good thing 
that the heart be established with grace" 
the grace of God which leads His people to 
a knowledge of the truth. 


Chapter 13 

Congregational Organisation 

The truths so successfully defended and 
the principles laid down at the Altenburg de- 
bate, in April, 1841, were first applied under 
Walther's leadership in organizing and or- 
dering the affairs of the St. Louis congrega- 
tion. Composed of the emigrants who had 
remained in the city, where they found em- 
ployment and a livelihood, and strengthened 
by accessions from Perry County and some 
of the "Berliners," who had come from New 
York, the congregation steadily grew in 
numbers, although it worshiped at most un- 
favorable hours in the basement of Christ 
Episcopal Church on Fifth Street, near the 
court-house. What was more important, the 
congregation, under the faithful, self-sacri- 
ficing ministry of Otto Hermann Walther, its 
first pastor, grew mightily in Christian knowl- 
edge. The tribulation of outward poverty 
and inward spiritual distress softened their 
hearts to receive the word. 

Their poverty must have been extreme. 
They gave their pastor a salary of $15 per 
month and his house rent. When he mar- 


Congregational <rganfeation 

ried Agnes E. Buenger, the sister of Ferdi- 
nand Walther's Leipzig student friend, Pas- 
tor J. F. Buenger, in November, 1839, the 
congregation undertook to collect some funds 
for a wedding present. Oppressed by a sense 
of their poverty, Otto Hermann Walther 
promptly requested them to desist, agreeing, 
lest he slight their love, to accept a most 
simple bedstead and a table. He had already 
ordered three chairs, he said, which would 
be quite sufficient. For them to do any more 
would be, not a token of love, but the impo- 
sition of a burdensome obligation. When he 
died, January 21, 1841, leaving his beloved 
Agnes and a baby son of three months, after 
a brief married life of only fourteen months, 
the congregation paid his funeral expenses, 
which amounted to $27.95^, and agreed to 
give his widow a pension of $5 per month. 
Pitiably little as it was, they at least cheer- 
fully recognized their obligations and did 
what was in their power. 

The spiritual trials which they were called 
upon to share with their Perry County 
brethren weighed even more heavily upon 
them than upon the congregations "near the 
Obrazo." These could at least suffer in rela- 
tive loneliness. The suffering of the St. Louis 
congregation, however x was aggravated by 


JDottor Carl $&altf)er 

the unchristian agitations of false brethren 
and intensified by the gibes and jeers of un- 
feeling worldings, who called everybody who 
had had even the remotest connection with 
Stephan a "Stephanist." These insinuations 
and accusations were expressed not only in 
private, but through the German press, which 
in those days was even more antagonistic to 
the Church than it so often is to-day. Still, 
the congregation grew and prospered, both 
in numbers and the knowledge of the Lord 
Jesus Christ. They were thinking of ac- 
quiring a church property of their own, when 
God called their beloved pastor into the eter- 
nal rest of His people. Pastor C. J. Otto 
Hanser, who wrote a history of this con- 
gregation at the celebration of its fiftieth 
anniversary, in 1889, speaks of him as hav- 
ing been "a highly gifted and richly blessed 
preacher, a chosen vessel of the Spirit and 
gifts of God; a burning and shining light in 
whose brightness so many souls, aye, a whole 
congregation, rejoiced with great thanks to 
God." "His death," says Hanser (he was 
but thirty-one years and four months old), 
"doubtless belongs to the darkest ways and 
leadings of God with this congregation and 
his Lutheran Church at this place." 

The St. Louis congregation, on February 



8, 1841, called Carl Ferdinand Walther to 
succeed his brother as its pastor, and sent 
one of its members, a M. Quast, to Perry 
County to place a formal written call into 
his hands and urge him, because of its great 
needs, to accept and come to St. Louis at 
once. Walther, who was still ill, was in the 
midst of his preparations for the Altenburg 
debate. In a beautiful letter he acknowl- 

edges the receipt of the call, and with perfect 
Christian frankness gives the congregation 
the reasons which make his immediate ac- 
ceptance impossible. These, he says, are 
not alone scruples of conscience, whose 
ground lies in part within, in part without 
him, but also his bodily condition. He prom- 
ises to do everything in his power to attain 
a clear knowledge of the divine will as soon 
as possible, and closes with a fervent prayer 
for divine guidance, commending the congre- 
gation to the grace and protection of God. 
What these "scruples of conscience" were 
plainly appears from the minutes of a meet- 
ing of the St. Louis congregation, held April 
26, 1841. Walther attended this meeting 
and informed the congregation of his readi- 
ness to accept its call, because God had 
graciously removed all doubts and hin- 
drances which might have prevented his do- 


Doctor Carl 

ing so. "For (1) his health had been re- 
stored; (2) he, through a diligent study of 
the old teachers of our Church, had attained 
the conviction that when, on the part of the 
calling congregation, everything had been 
done according to the divine order, the per- 
son called ought by no means refuse to accept 
the call; (3) any mistake he may have made 
in connection with the emigration did not 
constitute such sins as would ( 1 Tim. 3:7; 
Titus 1:7) render him unworthy of the of- 
fice; (4) he was now absolutely certain that 
the congregation could not be deprived of 
the glory of a Christian congregation, con- 
sequently it could not be denied the privi- 
leges of the same." 

Here, then, is the first definite, tangible 
result of the Altenburg debate, "the quiet- 
ing of conscience, the rejection of false teach- 
ing, seeking to insinuate itself under the 
guise of humility, the firm holding of the true 
doctrine of the Church, Church power, office, 
call, fellowship, power of the word, and the 
divine order," the establishment of a di- 
vinely-ordered relationship between pastor 
and congregation in the person of Walther 
and the St. Louis Church, which was to en- 
dure for nearly fifty years. Through God's 
gracious providence, the man who, by an ap- 


Congregational <&rgani?atum 

peal to the Scriptures and the Confessions, 
had so convincingly re-established those 
truths, without a clear perception of which 
there can be no real working together on the 
part of pastor and flock for the glory of God 
and the upbuilding of His Church, was to put 
these truths into practical execution; thus 
making Trinity congregation of St. Louis a 
model, an inspiration and a blessing unto 
thousands. No wonder good old Pastor 
Otto Hanser took God's promise to Abra- 
ham, "I will bless thee and thou shalt be a 
blessing" (Gen. 12: 2), for the motto of his 
history of this congregation. It would have 
been difficult, if not impossible, to find a 
better one. 

Walther preached his inaugural sermon 
on Jubilate Sunday, 1841, to his congrega- 
tion, which still worshiped in the basement 
of Christ Episcopal Church. We may as- 
sume his salary to have been the same as that 
paid to his brother, Otto Hermann, $15 per 
month, with the privilege of occupying a 
couple of rooms in the second story of a 
building on Poplar Street, rented by the con- 
gregation for parish school purposes. His 
health was not yet fully restored, and the 
congregation requested that he regularly 
preach one sermon on Sunday mornings, read 


Doctor Carl 

a sermon Sunday afternoons, and at once be- 
gin to instruct his catechumens. He was a 
few months over twenty-nine years of age 
when he became pastor of a congregation 
which under his leadership was to become 
the mother church of the Missouri Synod, 
and the fountain-head of all its wonderful 
activities in the field of Christian missions 
and Christian benevolence. 

It would be too much to expect that all 
these various activities were immediately es- 
tablished and organized without hindrance 
or opposition. The spirit of Stephan still 
lived. The truth established at the Alten- 
burg debate did not at once overcome all 
error and put an end to all controversy. The 
truth never does. It unites and separates, 
it gathers and excludes. It was so on first 
Pentecost day. Some said, "We do hear 
them speak in our tongues the wonderful 
works of God." These believed and were 
added to the infant Church. Others, mock- 
ing, said, "These men are full of new wine." 
These formed the opposition, the gainsay- 

Walther's gainsayer, and the leader of the 
opposition, was a certain Sproede, who had 
come to St. Louis with the "Berliners" from 
New York. This man, whose agitations had 



caused Walther and the other Perry County 
ministers untold grief, followed him to St. 
Louis, where he managed to find a few like- 
minded adherents. These people called 
Walther a miserable pietist, a deceiver, and a 
wolf, who had no knowledge of true Luther- 
anism, which they claimed as their exclusive 
possession ; accused him, the most modest of 
men, of hierarchical aims, insisted that the 
congregation depose him, questioned its right 
to exist as a congregation, urged its prompt 
dissolution, etc. They did to Walther ex- 
actly what Stanley, in his famous essay on 
"The Judaizers of the Apostolical Age," de- 
scribes these most bitter enemies of the gos- 
pel as having done to St. Paul. "Every point 
in his authority which seemed open to ques- 
tion, every trait of his character which could 
by any possibility admit of a sinister inter- 
pretation," was turned against him. It must 
have been a galling experience for a man 
of Walther's character and breeding, who, 
moreover, had already endured so much for 
his faith's sake. 

This distressing agitation lasted for two 
whole years, or until after Sproede's sudden 
death in 1843. It necessitated the holding 
of countless congregational meetings for the 
consideration of these absurd charges and 


Doctor atari t^altfjer 

their judgment according to the truths and 
principles laid down in Walther's Altenburg 
theses, which, after all, are but a restatement 
and amplification of the truths stated in the 
Augsburg Confession. As a result, the con- 
gregation was wonderfully enriched and es- 
tablished in Christian knowledge. Like the 
"more noble" Bereans, "they searched the 
Scriptures daily, whether these things were 
so," and profited accordingly. Under guid- 
ance of their pastor, these Lutheran laymen, 
in their congregational assemblies, discussed 
and applied Lutheran doctrine. This not 
only saved the congregation from disruption, 
by uniting it in the knowledge and confession 
of the truth, but it led to the formulation of 
a constitution (Gemeindeordnung} and rules 
for the guidance of the elders (Vors- 
teherordnung} together with an almoners' 
fund (Armenkassenordnung] , which were 
adopted and signed in the spring of 1843. 
Walther and his congregation spent two 
whole years on the consideration of this 
matter, trying every paragraph by the rule 
of the inspired word and the testimonies of 
the Church, as contained in the Confessions 
and the writings of the Lutheran fathers. 
Especial consideration was given to the ap- 
pointment of lay-elders or deacons, an in- 



stitution not generally known in the estab- 
lished Church of Germany. A summary of 
these discussions may be found in Walther's 
"Pastoral-theologie," published in 1872 
(pages 355-375), a book, by the way, which 
should be issued in English translation. 

The result was a constitution somewhat 
different in character than those accepted for 
their government by most Lutheran congre- 
gations of those days, which, as a rule, not 
only left everything to the determination of 
a so-called "Church Council," but did not 
even contain a confession of faith or state 
any qualifications for membership. At the 
completion of this work, Walther, inviting 
the subscription of the members, empha- 
sized: "(1) The will of God that every 
congregation have its own constitution ( Ord- 
mittff) ; (2) that God has given His children 
liberty to order all things according to their 
needs; (3) that we herein have the Church 
of all times as leader (Vorgdngerin) ; (4) 
that a constitution (Ordnung) is especially 
necessary in this country, where the govern- 
ment does not concern itself with the 
Church." With the adoption of this "order" 
the St. Louis congregation laid the founda- 
tions for Church government in all congre- 
gations of the Missouri Synod, together with 


Doctor Carl 

the government of the Synod itself. 

It selected its name a whole year before 
it adopted its constitution. It had enjoyed 
the generous hospitality of Christ Protestant 
Episcopal Church, worshiping in its base- 
ment for several years. There was no hall 
in the city which they might have rented. 
The school-room on Poplar Street was too 
small for the worshiping congregation. Still, 
when the vestry of Christ Church began to 
feel that they had done all that could be ex- 
pected of them, they did try to find another 
place of worship. Failing in this, they again 
began to think of purchasing a lot and erect- 
ing their own church building. This was in 
January, 1841, about ten months after Ferdi- 
nand Walther had become their pastor. 
They purchased a lot of 50 x 60 feet on 
Lombard Street, between Third and Fourth 
Streets, for $1000, paying $600 cash, and 
agreeing to pay eight per cent and then ten 
per cent interest on the balance. During the 
discussion of their building plans the ques- 
tion of a Church name came up, and Walther 
expressed a wish worthy of consideration by 
any congregation under the necessity of 
selecting a name. He said. " ( 1 ) The name 
of the church ought not be the name of a 
man; (2) it ought to contain a confession; 


Congregational Organisation 

(3) it ought not invite the mockery of the 
world." Accordingly they selected the name 
"Trinity" (Dreieinigkeit-kirche) . And when 
they laid the foundations for their church 
building they placed a document describing 
their history into the corner-stone, which 
contained these words, written by Walther: 
"Know, O Reader, whoever thou mayest be, 
we for this reason have given our church the 
high and holy name of 'Trinity Church,' be- 
cause we acknowledge no other God to be 
the true God, save the Triune, God Father, 
God Son, God Holy Ghost, as He has re- 
vealed Himself to us in His word. Know, 
O Reader, only for this purpose have we laid 
the foundation for this our church, that in it 
the pure word of God, according to the in- 
terpretation of the Apostolical, and after it 
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, may be 
proclaimed to us and our posterity, and 
the holy sacraments, holy Baptism and holy 
Communion, may be administered, according 
to the institution of Christ, the only-begotten 
Son of God, by the called ministers of the 
Church." This noble, dignified statement 
sounds like an echo of the Altenburg debate. 
Let the truth proclaimed by Martin Luther 
once grip a man's heart and be burned into 
his soul by the fire of tribulation, and there 


Doctor Carl 

is no getting away from it. 

The corner-stone was laid with a service 
in the basement of Christ Church, the usual 
place of worship. They did not think it wise 
to hold this service at the new building site, 
because of "zu befuerchtender Stoerungen" 
(to be feared disturbances) . Are they hinting 
at rowdyism ? Had they not yet lived down 
the Stephan disrepute? If this is the case, 
then the more honor to Christ Church, which 
opened its doors to these despised Saxon im- 
migrants. They never forgot it. When they 
dedicated their second church, on Lafayette 
and Eighth Streets, and at their golden jubi- 
lee, they arranged special services to which 
they invited this congregation, asking its 
members to have part in their rejoicing and 
thanksgiving because of the divine blessings 
so abundantly poured out upon the once so 
despised Saxon immigrants. 

The church building, a plain, simple struc- 
ture, 50 x 55 feet, with a basement for their 
parish school, was built at a cost of $4120. 
It was dedicated on December 4, the second 
Sunday of Advent, 1842. The joy of the 
people was indescribable. They celebrated 
for two whole days. At the first, the Sun- 
day morning dedication service, Walther 
preached. Unfortunately the manuscript of 


Congregational Organisation 

this sermon was lost. Of course, the Holy 
Communion was administered at this service. 
At the Sunday afternoon service, there were 
two marriages and two baptisms. One of 
the children to be baptized was Walther's 
eldest daughter, now the widow of Pastor 
Stephanus Keyl, who was for years Lutheran 
immigrant missionary at the "Pilgerhaus," 
New York. Like Luther's "Lenchen," she 
received the name Magdalena. The Perry 
County pastors and congregations sent con- 
gratulations. On Monday, there were again 
a morning and afternoon service. 

We may judge of how all this affected 
Walther by the sermon he preached on the 
third Sunday of Advent, when he, for the 
first time, was alone with his congregation 
after the dedication. The man's heart is 
almost bursting for joy. He begins like this : 
"And so it is indeed true ! God has actually 
permitted us to accomplish what we a few 
years ago hardly dared hope, yea, hardly 
dared wish for! God has actually, in this 
our new fatherland, given us a place where 
He for us and our children will record His 
name, come to us and bless us. Oh, the ex- 
ceeding good God !" 

Yes, it was indeed true. "The sparrow 
hath found an house, and the swallow a nest 


Doctor Carl 

for herself, where she may lay her young, 
even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King 
and my God." Walther says: "Many new, 
great hopes are awakened in my soul." They 
were to be realized, "exceeding abundantly 
above all that he asked or thought." 


Chapter 14 

One great trouble with this biography 
writing is the utter impossibility of keeping 
up a continued narrative. A man may be do- 
ing half a dozen different things at one time, 
founding a college, organizing a congrega- 
tion, fostering a parish school, building a 
church, getting married, preparing to publish 
a hymnal, establishing a mission, and what 
not. But it is imposible to tell of more than 
one of these activities at one time. You no 
sooner spin out the thread of your narrative 
a few steps when you are compelled to drop 
it and pick some other of five or six waiting 
threads. And it is not always easy to decide 
which thread to pick up. Perhaps the con- 
tinued narrative is not so important after all. 
The important thing is the painting of a 
good portrait. Now it makes absolutely no 
difference to a portrait painter with what 
part of the face he starts, whether it be the 
forehead or the tip of an ear, just so long 
as he keeps things in proportion. He is al- 
ways coming back to the same point and 
starting his next brush or pencil stroke from 


Doctor Carl D^altfjer 

the place he began his first stroke. With this 
plausible excuse, let us go back again to the 
year 1839, when Otto Hermann Walther be- 
came pastor of the St. Louis congregation. 

The Saxon emigrants had no sooner 
landed in St. Louis than they established a 
school. The Christian education and train- 
ing of their children was one of the things 
which prompted their coming to America. 
Walther, in a footnote to his "Life of Buen- 
ger," says: "In these Saxon-Lutheran con- 
gregations it was the rule always to at once 
establish the office of teaching (Schulamt) 
with the office of preaching (Predigtamt} . 
Within a few days after the arrival of the 
first division of the emigration company in 
St. Louis a school was founded here. If no 
teacher could be appointed, it was a self-evi- 
dent thing, that the minister took over with 
his ministerial office the office of schoolmas- 
ter, and administered it according to ability." 
His having been a private tutor in Germany 
before his ordination usually gave him special 
qualifications for this work. If his being a 
graduate of Leipzig University had any 
bearing on the question at all, it might, per- 
haps, he held that this fact warranted the 
assumption that he had or should have some 
acquaintance with the teaching methods 


which were to revolutionize the teaching 
methods of Germany, and, after the "educa- 
tional revival," the methods of America as 
well. Accordingly, after Candidate Geyer, 
the first teacher of the St. Louis school, had 
accepted a call to the "Berliner" congrega- 
tion in Perry County, Candidate Buenger, 
one of the founders of the Altenburg log 
cabin college, was called to succeed him. He 
accepted, and came to St. Louis in July, 1840. 
So when Ferdinand Walther came to St. 
Louis, to succeed his deceased brother in 
April, 1841, he found his most intimate Leip- 
zig student friend, Candidatus Theologiae 
Joh. Fried. Buenger, there, laying founda- 
tions for a model parish school, at a salary 
of $10 per month and the privilege of sleep- 
ing in a corner of the rented school-room. 
As pastor of the congregation, Walther, of 
course, became superintendent of its school, 
responsible for its instructions and manage- 
ment. They had no plan of study, no school- 
books, and no rules for its government. 
Pupils were there with an empty room in the 
rented building on Poplar Street. But they 
had Walther and Buenger, two men who had 
shared each other's bodily and spiritual trib- 
ulations ever since they first met at Leipzig, 
and who loved each other accordingly, Hav- 


doctor Carl 

ing these two men, a room and a number of 
pupils, the congregation had reason to hope 
for some good educational foundation lay- 

Walther gives the entire credit to his 
friend Buenger, although the two worked 
hand in hand for the upbuilding of the 
school. He says: "Under Buenger's direc- 
tion the school soon came up. Since he en- 
deavored to really teach the children some- 
thing, making especial efforts to enable the 
beginners to follow the instructions with 
profit, the school came into great favor. 
Many parents who did not belong to the 
Lutheran congregation sent their children 
because they saw that they were there not 
only well instructed, but also accustomed to 
a fine behavior. 

"At that time the German Radicals had 
also established a school in St. Louis. Its 
teacher was a German student who, although 
he had studied law at Leipzig, nevertheless 
did not know how to impart the most neces- 
sary elementaries to his pupils. He indulged 
himself in high speeches, talked much of 
scientific education, which he imparted to the 
children, for which he permitted himself to 
be paid $600 a year. His pupils were re- 
quired to pay a tuition fee of $1 a month, for 

which they learned exceedingly little. After 
this school had existed for two years, it went 
completely to pieces; most of the children 
from that time came to Buenger in the Luth- 
eran school. 

"This really had room for at most fifty 
children (the bed of the teacher and his other 
household goods took away a good part of 
the narrow space) ; but there were often 
eighty in attendance. Then they were com- 
pelled to find a place outside on the veranda, 
or on the staircase which led up to the dwell- 
ing of the pastor, on the steps of which they 
sat closely crowded side by side. So excel- 
lent had the reputation of the school become 
that even the "Evangelical" Pastor Wall sent 
his adopted child to it. 

"The subjects of instruction in this school 
were: Bible History, the Catechism, Read- 
ing, Writing, Arithmetic, generally useful 
branches, and some English. 

"The almost complete lack of suitable 
school-books at that time caused great need. 
The A-B-C book used by Buenger was 
printed in St. Louis (in the office of Der 
Anzeiger des Western (at that date edited 
by Weber), and consisted at the most of 
twelve leaves, upon which "Brief German 
Language Lessons" were to be found as an 


Doctor Carl t^altfjer 

appendix. It is self-evident that the religious 
instructions were imparted according to 
Luther's Small Catechism, which in most 
cases those parents also purchased who did 
not belong to the 'Saxon congregation,' as 
it was even at that time generally called ; for 
although these did not send their children to 
school for the sake of the religious instruc- 
tions, they were, nevertheless, expected to 
conform to the rule according to which no 
one was excused from them. The songs 
which were to be practiced and learned, for 
the most part, had to be copied, as there 
were no song books. Somewhat later a 
friend in Germany sent a chest filled with 
song books, which were now introduced. 
They were printed in Frankfort on the Main, 
and bore the title, 'Kern Geistlicher Lieder.' 
The New Testament at first served as a 
reader. Afterwards Buenger, in his need, 
procured a selection of the best tracts for the 
purpose, which, being published by the Amer- 
ican Tract Society, were to be had for a 
small price." 

After describing Buenger's teaching meth- 
ods and how he used his Wednesday after- 
noons to visit the city public schools to study 
their organization and discipline, adopting 
whatever commended itself to him for his 


own school, Walther continues : "The second 
year the number of pupils increased to such 
an extent that a larger school-room had to be 
taken. It was also located on Poplar, be- 
tween Third and Fourth Streets. 

"The school-teaching candidate for the holy 
ministry received a salary of $15 per month, 
which was in part raised by the school fees 
(each child of the congregation paid five 
cents a week), in part by the Sunday of- 
ferings in the 'Klingelbeutel,' namely, the 
basins held at the church door. The 
'strange' children were required to pay a 
monthly school fee of fifty cents. At first 
Buenger also received this; later he was re- 
quired to deliver it into the congregational 
treasury, for his salary was raised to $25 
per month." 

After the dedication of Trinity Church, 
the school was removed to its roomy base- 
ment. Walther says : "Here the number of 
pupils increased to such an extent that there 
was soon an attendance of 150 to 160. With 
great joy and manifest success, Buenger 
labored among this respectable flock of 
Christ's lambs." 

Certain things stand out in this account of 
the founding of Walther's parish school. 
First, the relative importance in the minds 


Doctor Carl 

of these people of the "three R's," as com- 
pared with Bible History and the Catechism. 
In enumerating the several branches taught 
in the school, Bible History and the Cate- 
chism come first; Reading, Writing and 
Arithmetic come second. In all of these 
parish schools the first hour of the day is in- 
variably devoted to the teaching of religion. 
It could not well be otherwise, for in the 
mind of these people the attending children 
were not pupils merely, but "lambs of 
Christ," who gave command to His under- 
shepherds: "Feed my sheep," "Feed my 
lambs." That Christian Lutheran parents 
could be content to send their children to a 
school where, in the very nature of things, 
the teaching of religion was impossible, was 
simply inconceivable. 

Again there is the relation of the pastor 
to the school. If the attendant children are 
"lambs of Christ," by holy baptism members 
of His flock, then Christ's under-shepherd 
has the selfsame duty toward them that he 
has toward every other member of the con- 
gregation committed to his charge. As he 
values his soul's salvation he dare not neglect 
his school. 

On the other hand, there was no under- 
estimation of purely secular learning. They 

Cfie Parfeft <cfiool 

talk like this : "Surely God has intended our 
children in this country for something else 
than merely to become bearers of wood and 
drawers of water for the spirit of specula- 
tion. If we consider in what deplorable state 
civil affairs here find themselves, whereas 
God would certainly also have His secular 
government (Weltregimeni} decently ap- 
pointed and managed, and would punish the 
contrary with heavy judgments; and since 
it must surely be assumed that such people, 
as have from their youth been instructed in 
God's word and trained in the fear of God, 
also in civil government, will more conscien- 
tiously fill any position they may happen to 
occupy, we ought even for this reason pre- 
pare our children unto God that He may also 
use them for this purpose." 

This was in 1857, when the Synod, only 
ten years old, was discussing the necessity of 
establishing a teachers' seminary. These 
people had educational ideals. They had 
been set by Walther and Buenger at the 
founding of the St. Louis parish school, 
where they not only taught religion and the 
"three R's," but "generally useful branches" 
(gemeinnutzige Kenntnisse), and where the 
pupils were "accustomed to a fine behavior" 
(eine feme Zucht). The standards set by 


Doctor Carl 

them made for service; honest, God-fearing 
service in Church and state. No matter if 
they lacked a school building, school books, 
and almost everything in the way of furni- 
ture and apparatus. They had a true con- 
ception of education and its purpose. They 
had lofty educational ideas. They had a 
keen sense of educational responsibilities. If 
the Missouri Synod, with its wonderful sys- 
tem of parish schools, has these things, it got 
them from Walther and Buenger and their 
work for the school of the St. Louis mother 
congregation. If it refuses to consider any 
congregation, lacking its own school, prop- 
erly organized and equipped, it does this be- 
cause it was the rule always "to at once es- 
tablish the office of teaching with the office 
of preaching." And if the ministers of the 
Missouri Synod stand ready to assume the 
duties of a schoolmaster in addition to their 
regular pastoral work, it is because, to quote 
Walther again, "if no teacher could be ap- 
pointed, it was a self-evident thing that the 
minister took over with his ministerial office 
the office of schoolmaster and administered 
it according to ability." Finally, if the Mis- 
souri Synod to-day numbers the annual grad- 
uates of its theological and teachers' semi- 
naries, not by tens or twenties, but by the 


hundred, it owes them primarily to its parish 
schools, still so largely taught by these same 
self-sacrificing ministers. 

The Synod, at its session of 1857, took 
steps toward establishing a seminary for the 
training of its school-teachers. It first called 
Pastor Ph. Fleischmann to take charge, and 
arranged special courses at the so-called 
"Practical Seminary," then at Fort Wayne, 
now at Springfield, 111. In 1861 the teachers' 
seminary was separately organized and 
housed in a rented building. Pastor A. Selle 
was called as second professor. In 1863 the 
erection of a seminary building at Addison, 
Du Page County, 111., was resolved upon, 
where a strong country congregation offered 
to present a site and considerable funds for 
the building, which was dedicated December 
28, 1864. Pastor J. C. W. Lindemann was 
made director the same year, and the publi- 
cation of an educational journal, the Evan- 
getisch-Lutherisches Schulblatt, begun in 
September, 1865. Director Lindemann had 
received a splendid pedagogical training at a 
teachers' seminary in Hannover, Germany, 
before coming to America to study theology. 
With the experience of a successful pastorate 
in Cleveland, Ohio, in addition to his thor- 
ough equipment for the position, he took up 


doctor Carl 

the work of organizing this Lutheran Teach- 
ers' Normal School, and carried it to success- 
ful completion before his death in 1879. The 
institution, which now has an enrollment of 
233 students, was recently removed to River 
Forest, a suburb of Chicago, where a mag- 
nificent group of buildings has been erected 
under leadership of the Chicago Lutheran 
Educational Society. A similar institution 
was established at Seward, Neb., in 1894, 
which now has an enrollment of 137 students. 

Meanwhile a quite complete series of 
German and English text-books has been pre- 
pared and published through the Synodi- 
cal publishing house ( Concordia-Verlag) . 
These even include geographies, grammars, 
arithmetics, charts, a United States history 
and civil government, etc. Several of these 
text-books are of such excellence that they 
have found acceptance by the public school 
authorities of some of our larger cities. 

At this moment the more effective organi- 
zation and co-ordination of Synod's entire 
system of parish school or primary education 
is under discussion, the outcome of which 
will, doubtless, be the raising of educational 
standards, the correlation of these schools 
with the gymnasia or secondary schools, the 
establishment of high schools in our larger 

cities, together with the establishment of in- 
stitutions for the higher education of women 
and a further attempt to do what Buenger 
did when he spent his Wednesday afternoons 
studying the methods of the public schools 
of St. Louis. 

All of which grew out of a little room in 
a rented building on "Poplar Street, between 
Third and Fourth Streets," St. Louis, where 
Carl Ferdinand Walther and Johann Fried- 
rich Buenger first attempted to implicitly 
obey the command of our blessed Lord, who 
again and again said to His under-shepherds, 
"Feed my lambs." 




Next to the missionary command of our 
Lord with the magnificently impelling force 
of that one word, "Go," there is no more 
inspiring missionary text than the word of 
God spoken by the lips of Isaiah to the New 
Testament Church: "Enlarge the place of 
thy tent, and let them stretch forth the cur- 
tain of thine habitations : spare not, lengthen 
thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for 
thou shalt break forth on the right hand and 
on the left" (Isa. 54:2,3). 

Trinity congregation had framed and 
adopted a constitution, selected its name and 
seal, built a church when it lacked even the 
purchase price of a desirable lot; organized 
its parish school, provided a home for it in 
the basement of the church building dedi- 
cated with such indescribable joy on the 
second Sunday of Advent, 1842. Surely, if 
a congregation ever had the right to stand 
still for a moment and catch its breath, it 
was Trinity. But neither Walther, its pastor, 
nor Buenger, its teacher, knew what it was 
to stand still. They, and the congregation 



with them, immediately began to make plans 
"to break forth on the right hand and the 

Buenger, despite the strenuous labor re- 
quired for the organization and teaching of 
a mixed school, with an attendance of 160 
children, took charge of a little country con- 
gregation on the Bonhomme Road, St. Louis 
County. In his biography of Buenger, 
Walther has a charming little description of 
his work : "Buenger visited the congregation 
every two weeks. These people brought a 
horse into town for him and tied it just be- 
fore the school. Promptly after the close 
of instructions on Fridays, he swung himself 
into the saddle and trotted out to his congre- 
gation. In order to become better acquainted 
with the several families, he never unneces- 
sarily lodged twice in one and the same 
house. Then, on Saturdays, he held school, 
and whatever he on this day had gone over 
with the children, he reviewed on Sunday at 
the catechization (Christen-lehre) . It was 
always a great joy to the parents, when their 
children could give answer so correctly and 
cheerfully. Then, before Buenger dismissed 
the children, he assigned them their new les- 
sons, which they diligently studied and al- 
ways knew perfectly when he came again. 


Doctor Carl D&altfter 

God so blessed his labors that the little con- 
gregation could build a small church, which 
was dedicated June 14, 1846." 

So here was one stake set and "strength- 
ened." Trinity congregation was "breaking 
forth." They promptly proceeded to set 
another. Walther says : "The congregation, 
which had now spread over the whole city, 
and desirous to obey its call to do mission 
work among the other Germans, now ear- 
nestly thought of founding a second school 
in a more northern section of the city. It 
was opened in December, 1844, 'in the St. 
Louis Garden' (on Wash, and Eighth 
Streets) . Theodore E. Buenger, the younger 
brother of our candidate, after a successfully 
passed public examination, was appointed 
teacher at the new school, and was also 
given the office of precentor in the congrega- 
tion, which had heretofore been filled by a 
congregation member, Mr. C. M. Grosse. 

"The same year Friedrich Buenger was 
called to the ministry. In the first place the 
congregation in St. Louis appointed him as 
its assistant minister, with a monthly salary 
of $24, and the responsibility, with a second 
teacher, of instructing the higher class. . . . 

"In 1847 a separate congregational dis- 
trict was established in the northern part of 

St. Louis, which now called Friedrich Buen- 
ger as its regular pastor, necessitating his 
giving up the office of teaching, which had 
become so dear to him. In this 'Immanuel's 
District,' which was geographically sepa- 
rated from the 'Trinity District,' Buenger 
had sole charge of the pastoral work (Seel- 
sorge) ; as regards the preaching he ex- 
changed with the pastor of the other dis- 
trict in order to keep alive the consciousness 
with all members, that they now, as before, 
formed but one congregation. 

"On February 27, 1848, the new Imman- 
uel Church (the southeast corner of Eleventh 
Street and Franklin Avenue) was solemnly 

Here was another stake set and "strength- 
ened." Having "broken forth on the right 
hand," Trinity promptly proceeded to "break 
forth on the left." The "place of her tent 
was being enlarged and the curtains of her 
habitations stretched forth." 

The missionary methods employed by 
Walther and Buenger in the establishment of 
these two congregations are characteristic of 
the Missouri Synod. As a rule, new city 
congregations, especially in larger cities, like 
Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, 
were founded by the planting of a parish 


Doctor Carl talt&er 

school in some promising location, the in- 
auguration of regular preaching services and 
the dismissal of at least enough members 
from the mother church or churches, to prop- 
erly organize the new parish. The result 
was a solid and well-trained organization to 
assist the pastor in his missionary activities 
in the new field. While this method of work 
may be somewhat responsible for Missouri's 
underestimation in the past of the value of 
a large church extension fund, it also safe- 
guarded that Synod against putting too much 
dependence upon a handsome church build- 
ing with the further temptation to gather a 
crowd of poorly instructed people in an ef- 
fort to promptly repay the funds furnished 
by the Board. 

In the country, however, the methods fol- 
lowed by Buenger on the Borihomme Road 
generally prevailed regular and faithfully 
kept appointments, a visiting of all families, 
with real pastoral solicitude for their wel- 
fare and a most careful instruction and in- 
doctrination of their children. This is the 
outstanding feature of both methods of 
work; the care of the Church's youth. If the 
Missouri Synod in its missionary activities 
has had a larger measure of success than the 
other Lutheran Church bodies of this coun- 

If ome 

try, it owes this not to a larger measure of 
opportunity but to a faithful following 
of the missionary methods employed by 
Walther and Buenger at the very outset. 
They established precedents which not only 
obtain to-day, but any departing from which 
will be fraught with danger something we 
shall have to remember if we succeed in 
gathering a large extension fund, as is now 

Another most important feature of these 
missionary activities is alluded to when 
Walther says that the two pastors regularly 
exchanged pulpits "to keep alive the con- 
sciousness with all the members that they 
now, as before, formed but one congrega- 


Although Buenger, now assistant pastor 
or vicar at Trinity, served the congregation 
on the Bonhomme Road, no attempt was 
ever made to treat that little congregation 
as a "chapel" annex of the city church. It 
was an independent parish, perfectly free to 
work out its own problems in its own way. 
There was no possibility of its interfering 
with the affairs of the city church; so why 
should the* city church interfere with its af- 
fairs ? 

In the city, however, the situation was al- 


doctor Carl 

together different. There the establishment 
of a new parish could not fail to affect every 
other existing parish. This fact, we take it, 
and not merely Walther's personal eminence, 
prompted these people to insist upon remain- 
ing one congregation. Walther discusses 
this matter with Pastor Ottomar Fuer- 
bringer, in a letter dated February 17, 1847, 
and makes the significant remark: "Man 
filrchtet Trennungen, wenn nicht ein Pas- 
toral einen Einigungspunkt bildet" ("Divis- 
ions are feared, if one pastorate does not 
form a point of union") . The history of the 
organization and development of the Church 
in more than one of our cities might be cited 
to prove that they were right. If not actu- 
ally divided, the churches in other cities, as 
compared with St. Louis, were only too often 
weakened by their failure to work out some 
plan of city parish organization. Even with 
Walther's wonderful leadership, it may be 
questioned if St. Louis, had it organized in- 
dependent parishes, instead of a Gesammtge- 
meinde, would ever have purchased a ten- 
acre cemetery in 1847, presented the newly- 
organized Synod with a building site and 
considerable funds to remove the college 
from Altenburg, founded the Lutheraner, 
published a Church hymnal, and, above all, 

. If ome 

taken the lead in organizing the Missouri 
Synod. In view of which it may also be 
questioned whether we have worked out a 
practical and efficient plan for the organiza- 
tion of our city congregations, or whether 
to this day there is not only too often a woe- 
ful lack of real cohesion and united effort. 

This is what they did in St. Louis : They 
called Candidate Buenger as assistant pastor 
of Trinity. He was ordained on the ninth 
Sunday after Trinity, 1844. His official 
title was "Vicar." Walther was "pastor 
primarius" or Oberpfarrer. They pro- 
vided ( 1 ) that Buenger was to preach at the 
afternoon services on Sundays and festivals, 
and alternately at the weekday services; 
(2) he was to assist at the administra- 
tion of the holy communion; (3) he was 
to perform all official acts, baptisms, mar- 
riages, burials, etc., assigned to him by the 
pastor primarius; (4) in short, he was to 
assist him whenever he desired and needed 
his help. 

Plainly, the responsibility for the admin- 
istration of the congregation's affairs rested 
with one man. These people were not fool- 
ish enough to divide responsibility and invite 
friction by placing two men with equal re- 
sponsibilities at the head of one congrega- 


Poctor Carl 

tion. They left that arrangement for the 
superior wisdom of a later generation. 

After the building of Immanuel Church, 
Buenger was given charge of all pastoral 
work in that district. But the two districts 
formed one congregation. Walther was 
pastor ; Buenger, vicar. The members of the 
northern district (Immanuel) had the right 
to seek and employ the pastoral advice of the 
Oberpfarrer. The treasury, all meetings, in 
short, everything pertaining to the adminis- 
tration of the congregation's affairs was man- 
aged as a unit. When Walther, in 1849, be- 
came professor of Concordia College and 
Seminary, Trinity called Pastor Fr. Wyne- 
ken as its vicar. Walther remained pastor 
primarius. In 1854 Synod elected Wyneken 
as its General President, relieving Walther 
of the onerous duties of this office. Wyne- 
ken remained vicar, and the congregation 
called Pastor G. Schaller as its third vicar. 
This arrangement continued until 1856, 
when a third district, Concordia (Kreuz), 
was organized. They then amended the 
constitution, making provision for each 
district to directly control its own prop- 
erty and manage its own school affairs. 
Walther remained Oberpfarrer. The pas- 
tors and elders constituted the General 


V 'or stand, which met every two months, 
the Oberpfarrer presiding. The General- 
gemeinde also met every two months, received 
all new members, exercised church discipline 
after the district had performed the prelim- 
inary admonitions, nominated candidates for 
the ministerial office, leaving it to the re- 
spective districts to elect, while the Gesammt- 
gemeinde extended the call. That one con- 
gregation should receive members under 
discipline in another congregation or re- 
ceive the communicants of another congre- 
gation "upon profession of faith," was 
simply impossible. Walther, as Oberpfarrer, 
opened these meetings and welcomed the 
new members with an appropriate formal 
address. These prayers and addresses were 
collected and published in 1888 ("Ans- 
prachen und Gebete," Concordia Verlag). 
He also led the discussions in these meetings 
of questions pertaining to practical church 
life, e.g., "On the duty of Christians to join 
a faithful local congregation," "The correct 
form of a congregation independent of the 
state," "On Communism and Socialism," 
"On Usury," "The Dance and the Theater." 
These discussions were of incalculable value, 
both for the St. Louis congregation and the 
Church at large, especially after their publi- 


Doctor Carl Waltfcer 

cation in permanent form. This Gesammt- 
gemeinde also published many of Walther's 
sermons at its own expense, and the founding 
of Concordia Publishing House must, in 
large measure, be credited to its far-sighted 
business prudence. Moreover, if the congre- 
gations of St. Louis to-day own a splendid 
hospital in the city (founded in 1858), an 
orphanage at Des Peres, and a home for the 
aged and a Lutheran academy, the found- 
ing and continued support of which institu- 
tions call for sustained and concerted effort, 
they owe them to the unity of spirit which in- 
spired this attempt at city parish organiza- 

The Concordia, or Cross District, called 
Pastor Theodore Brohm in 1858. The Zion 
District was organized in 1860, after Buen- 
ger had planted a school north of Immanuel 
in 1858. Candidate C. Boese became its first 
pastor. These four districts or parishes, with 
their fine churches and school buildings, main- 
tained the above-described plan of organiza- 
tion until after Walther's death, in 1887. It 
was formally abandoned in 1889. Hanser 
says the last resolution adopted at their last 
"general meeting," provided for the erection 
of a monument to mark the grave of their be- 
loved Walther. As foreseen and foretold by 


him, this scheme of organization lasted only 
during his lifetime. The St. Louis congrega- 
tions buried their Gesammtgemeinde with 
their Oberpfarrer. 

Most of the men who discuss this plan of 
organization constantly use the adjectives 
"peculiar," "doubtful," "dangerous." Their 
arguments in explanation of these words are 
not convincing. Every form of organization 
has its dangers of possible abuse. That their 
present position of absolute independence 
(ganz unabhaengige Gemeinden) is an im- 
provement upon what they had is yet to be 
demonstrated. Certainly this may be said: 
A satisfactory plan for the organizing into 
one effective piece of machinery of all the 
congregations in any one city has not yet been 
worked out by our Church in this country. 
It is a problem which must be solved if our 
present methods, so wasteful of ministerial 
time and energy, so foolish as regards the 
full use of expensive church properties, so 
miserably shortsighted in its efforts to solve 
the never-ending home mission problem, so 
pitiably weak in the organization and direc- 
tion of its charities and benevolences, are 
not to continue to hamper our efforts to obey 
the inspiring injunction to "enlarge the place 
of our tent, stretch forth the curtain of our 


doctor Carl 

habitation, lengthen our cords and strengthen 
our stakes." "The city," it is said, "is the 
problem of modern civilization." It is the 
problem of the Church, just as it was when 
Jonah preached at Nineveh, or Paul at 
Athens and Rome. When we come to seri- 
ously think of improving our organized ef- 
forts for the doing of our Lord's work in 
our cities, it will be well for us to look at the 
St. Louis Gesammtgemeinde. A plan of 
organization evolved by Walther, under 
which men like Buenger, Wyneken, Schaller 
and Brohm could work together, systematic- 
ally, effectively and successfully, must have 
something to commend it, however eigentum- 
lich, bedenklich and gefaehrlich it appeared 
to the generation that came after them. 


Cfjapter 16 

Damage anb Jramilp JLilt 

One cannot be too grateful to the col- 
lector and editor of Walther's letters, two 
volumes of which have just been published 
with the promise of others to follow. Judged 
merely as literature, their charm is indescrib- 
able. They are written with the same pains- 
taking accuracy of expression, correctness in 
form, refined delicacy of taste; in a word, 
with that same inimitable style which marks 
his sermons. But they have another and a 
greater value; they reveal sides of his char- 
acter perhaps unknown and unsuspected by 
any save his most intimate friends. Like 
Luther, he could joke and even politely tease 
a little. He writes to Wyneken and tells him : 
"I know what a hard case you are." He 
calls him "My dear old companion-in-arms." 
How delicately and politely he teases Ottesen 
on the aristocratic feelings of a Norwegian 
as compared with a "plump" German. Their 
greatest value, however, is this, they make 
possible the description with his own words 
of those most sacred of all earthly things, 
love, courtship, marriage and family life; 


Doctor Carl V&altfier 

things which it otherwise would be impos- 
sible to discuss. Yet, for a complete picture 
of any man their discussion is indispensable. 
As he himself says : "Hat dock der Theologe 
den Menschen zur Unterlage. Der Mensch 
hat auch seine Beduerfnisse, und nicht nur 
Leibes, Sondern auch und mehr noch Ge- 
mutsbeduerfnisse soil er nicht verkuemmern" 
("The theologian has the man for his basis. 
And the man has his needs, not only needs 
of the body but also and more needs of the 
heart" Oh, that German word, Gemilt! 
"if he is not to pine away") . Now, where is 
a man to satisfy his heart needs, his Ge- 
mutsbeduerfnisse, if not in his own home 
circle? And how can we ever know a man, 
if we know nothing of his heart needs and 
family life? It was this feeling that 
prompted the editor to give pre-eminence to 
a love-letter by placing it first in his collec- 
tion. It was written to Miss Emilie Buenger, 
Perry County, Mo., under date of August 
10, 1841, a little over three months after 
Walther came to St. Louis to succeed his 
deceased brother, Otto Hermann. Emilie 
Buenger was the sister of Agnes, the widow 
of Otto Hermann Walther, and of Walther's 
Jonathan, Joh. Fried. Buenger. The Buen- 
gers, like the Walthers, were the descendants 


an& JFamilp Hife 

of an old family of ministers, which both 
on the father's and the mother's side went 
back to the days of the Reformation. The 
father, Pastor Jacob Friedrich Buenger, died 
before the Saxon emigration. The widowed 
mother was the daughter of her husband's 
predecessor, a Pastor Wilhelm Gottlieb 
Reiz, who died in 1808. Her grandfather 
was the author of a devotional book noted 
for its fervent piety. She came to America 
with her children in 1839, traveling over 
New York to St. Louis and Perry County. 
When Walther wrote this letter she seems 
to have been in St. Louis with her widowed 
daughter Agnes, who later became the wife 
of Pastor Ottomar Fuerbringer, a name 
which, like Sievers, is inseparably associated 
with the Franconian colonies of the Saginaw 
Valley, Mich. Emilie Buenger was with 
her sister Lydia and her brothers in Perry 
County, one of whom, Doctor Ernest Buen- 
ger, was a physician and the chief support of 
the family. Friedrich Buenger, candidate of 
theology, had come to St. Louis in July to 
take charge of the parish school. These 
details are interesting because they show that 
Walther, when selecting a helpmeet, looked 
to ministerial traditions rather than to 
worldly advantage, a fact which might, per- 


Doctor Carl 

haps, be emphasized with some profit by the 
professors teaching pastoral theology to the 
graduating classes at our seminaries. Guen- 
ther says of Emilie Buenger: "She was 
a faithful disciple of the Lord, who adorned 
her faith with quiet, devout life, and espe- 
cially proved it through her love of God's 
word and through works of love and mercy. 
She was indeed and in truth a helpmeet to 
her husband for forty-four years. 

A translation of his letter asking her hand 
which would preserve the fine sentiment of 
the original is impossible. He addresses it 
"Teure, herzlich geliebte Emilie" and signs 
himself "Ihr taeglicher Fuerbitter vor Gott" 
He uses the formal "Sie" instead of the fa- 
miliar, affectionate "Du," through the whole 
letter, which to us, in these straightforward, 
prosaic days, seems almost an excess of 
politeness. But it is the complete Walther 
writing, even to the use of his favorite figure, 
antithesis, which he, in common with all 
strong writers of ancient and modern times, 
employs with such complete mastery and 
telling effect. He addresses his letter, "Dear, 
Sincerely Beloved Emilie !" Then he checks 
himself, as if he had said too much, and ex- 
plains that he two years before, through her 
brother Fritz, had at least distantly indicated 


Carriage an& Jfamtlp Htfe 

a precious, high desire of his heart which she 
alone in this whole wide world could fulfill. 
He hints at the illness, which had so often 
filled his soul with grief because it made him 
dread that the dearest wish of his heart 
might never be granted him. But God has 
been gracious, and so he takes courage to 
lay this desire at the feet of his Lord. Her 
"Yes" or "No" will fully reveal God's will. 
He, therefore, asks her directly to become 
the companion of his life and to respond to 
the love for her which God has kindled in 
his heart. He has nothing to offer her. She 
knows his faults, his weaknesses and his pov- 
erty. But he can promise that she in him will 
find a faithful and loving husband. He has 
no one to speak for him. And so he has 
asked God Himself to be his Eliezer. 

He then, because of the difficulty of com- 
munication, discusses the possible publica- 
tion of bans and the date of their wedding. 
But he is too bold. He does this only be- 
cause, even if she should refuse to accept his 
hand, he cannot deny himself the precious 
privilege of thinking .of her, even though it 
be for only a few moments, as his dear, be- 
trothed brjde, presented to him of God. 
Then he closes with a prayer, and signs him- 
self "Your daily intercessor with God." 


j&octor Carl t&altfter 

It is a charming letter, full of sweet, 
wholesome sentiment, dictated by sincerest 
love, and filled with a high-minded piety. 
Emilie Buenger must have been a proud 
woman to receive such a letter from such a 
man. Her reply could not have been long 
delayed, although the waiting seemed long to 
him. On August 25 he writes her again: 
"My in Christ Jesus dearly beloved Bride I 
So, after a long, yearning wait, your precious 
reply is in my hands. God, as I with great 
joy of heart learn from it, has assured you 
of His gracious will that we together are to 
pass through this present unto the life to 
come. His holy name be praised for this 
forever and ever!" 

Then he thinks of the home they are about 
to found. "Oh! let us plead in the name of 
Jesus that the Lord may give us grace to 
lay, on our wedding day, the first foundation- 
stone of a little Christian house church 
(Rom. 16:5). Oh! how I long that our 
home may be a faithful pattern of a truly 
Christian family, in which God may pass in 
and out and all the children of God be in- 
cited to praise the Father in heaven (Matt. 

This is exactly what their home was, "a 
little house church," "a model of truly Chris- 


J&arrtage anb JFamtlp Htfe 

tian family." He looked to her to make and 
keep it such. He writes : "But I, alas, here- 
unto feel so little strength. So much the 
more do I hope of you, dear Emilie." She 
must have been a strong-minded woman, this 
Emilie Buenger, suited to be the intellectual 
companion of a man who stood head and 
shoulders above his contemporaries. He 
suggests that she read the marriage sermons 
appended by that man of God, Doctor 
Luther, to his Epistle Postil. And then, with 
simple, childlike affection, he closes: "Now 
may God be with you, my beloved Bride. 
May He keep your love unto me, even as I, 
with God's help, shall abide therein unto 
death. Your Ferdinand." 

They were married in the little church of 
the Saxon emigrants at Dresden, Perry 
County, on September 21, 1841. Pastor 
Keyl, his brother-in-law, performed the mar- 
riage ceremony. Then they returned to St. 
Louis to begin their simple housekeeping in 
the rooms above the school in the rented 
building on Poplar Street, between Third 
and Fourth Streets. Their furnishings were 
probably on a par with "the table, the simple 
bed and the three chairs" of his sainted 
brother. But with all its poverty, it was 
that blessed thing which Martin Luther and 


Doctor Carl 

his Katharine gave the Church, a Lutheran 

About four and a half years later, at a 
meeting held in St. Louis, preliminary to the 
organization of the Missouri Synod, the 
pastors Fuerbringer, Ernst, Sihler and 
Lochner were Walther's guests. Here is 
Lochner's description of Walther's home 
and their entertainment : "How modest, not 
to say poor, were our dear hosts' outward 
circumstances! Opposite the old Trinity 
Church, where the Saxon mills now stand, 
there was a small, two-story brick house. 
The second-floor front was occupied by 
Shoemaker Neumiller, a brother-in-law of 
Walther" (he had married Clementine Buen- 
ger, another sister of Walther's wife) ; "the 
second-floor rear, by the sainted 'Pastorin' 
Buenger, Walther's and not long afterwards 
my mother-in-law, who owned the house." 
(Lochner married Lydia Buenger, another 
sister.) "Walther lived on the lower floor, 
which he had rented. This lower part con- 
sisted of a living room, which at the same 
time was a bed-room for him, his wife and 
two children, a small adjoining summer 
kitchen and his study. The latter at the same 
time also served as the guest chamber. When 
the time to go to sleep came, the lounge was 

Carriage aitfc Jpamil? Hife 

opened to serve as a double bed for Doctor 
Sihler and Pastor Fuerbringer, and from 
under it a low frame" (it must have been a 
trundle-bed) "drawn forth as a reclining 
place for Pastor Ernst and myself. Morn- 
ings, during breakfast, the transformation 
of the improvised bed-room into a study took 

Talk about "low living and high think- 
ing!" Surely, it was to be found here. And 
if there is any question regarding the "high 
thinking," we have only to read the letters 
written to his wife by Walther from Ger- 
many on the occasion of his visit in 1860. 
He discusses the men he met, the sermons he 
heard, the religious conditions he found, as 
if he were talking to a fellow theologian. 
And then, like a good husband, he adds a 
postscript and tells her that he will bring the 
desired table linens. 

God blessed the union of Ferdinand and 
Emilie Walther with six children. The eld- 
est, Christiane Magdalene, one of the two 
infants baptized at the dedication of the first 
Trinity Church, was born November 22, 
1842. She became the wife of Walther's 
nephew, the.deceased Pastor Stephanus Keyl. 
His eldest son, Hermann Christoph, was 
born October 25, 1844, and died July 24, 


Doctor Carl taltf)er 

1848. His death was caused by concussion 
of the brain, the result of an unfortunate fall. 
The twin boys, Constantin and Ferdinand 
Gerhard, were born February 23, 1847. 
Ferdinand Gerhard is pastor of a church at 
Brunswick, Missouri. The second daughter, 
Emma Julie, who was born July 27, 1849, 
became the wife of the deceased Pastor J. 
H. Niemann, of Cleveland, for many years 
President of the "Middle District" of the 
Missouri Synod. She entered into her rest 
before her husband. A fourth son, Christian 
Friedrich, who was born on June 29, 1851, 
died as an infant. 

Walther was a lover of children. This 
not only appears from his relations with his 
Lenchen and Julchen and the twin sons, 
Ferdinand and Constantin, with whom we 
may group Johannes Walther, the son of his 
brother, Otto Hermann, but it is even more 
apparent from the affectionate joy he has in 
his grandchildren. In a letter to Ms son-in- 
law, Stephanus Keyl, he expresses the wish 
that they might so divide their possession 
that he could have them without depriving 
their parents of them. He tells him and 
Lenchen that he looks upon their children 
as if they were his own, and rejoices over 
them as over a sweet gift for his withered 


anb jpamtlp Htfe 

a g e > by which it is again made to green and 
bloom. The joy he tasted at the birth of 
his twins, which he expresses in a letter, 
written to "Liddy" (at that time the wife of 
Pastor Lochner), is renewed every time the 
birth of a grandchild is announced. His 
letter of strengthening comfort to his daugh- 
ter Lenchen, who was looking forward to 
the blessed privilege of Christian mother- 
hood, is one of the most beautiful things in 
all epistolary literature. "Think," he says, 
"is it not a great thing that God should honor 
you to give life and existence to an immortal 
being, called unto everlasting life and already 
preciously redeemed through Christ? And 
when the dear child is happily born into the 
world, this is a greater event than one thinks. 
For the child is then there in order that it 
may know God for all eternity, to praise 
Him and to be blessed forever. If God 
were to present you with a million dollars, 
that would be a far inferior gift than such 
a little child." He says "Kindlein." When- 
ever he talks of children, he unconsciously 
uses affectionate diminutives and little pet 
names. The Gaelic, they say, has some 
thirty of them. It must be the most affec- 
tionate language in the world. Anglo-Saxon, 
with its "business as usual," has none. It is, 


Doctor Carl UMtijer 

therefore, impossible to convey any adequate 
conception of the wealth of tenderness and 
affectionate love which quivers through his 
letters when he speaks of his grandchildren. 
They must be read in the original. Still, we 
must attempt just one translation. 

On August 4, 1866, he writes to his son- 
in-law: "Little Emily parades around the 
whole day, with the exception of the noon 
hour, when she loves to rest from her gov- 
ernmental cares, sleeping by preference upon 
the carpet of the guest chamber, with a pil- 
low under her head, in the shade of the great 
house with its ornamental trees, as if the 
entire jurisdiction of Concordia were given 
over to her administration. Her energy has 
already attained a certain fame in the child- 
world of the entire neighborhood. True, be- 
sides great amiableness, she has a consider- 
able measure of that strength of character, 
which, without doing violence to language, 
one might also call self-will. But she has 
already noticed, after her brief stay in these 
regions, that there are still powers above her, 
which are able to use the acacias with their 
beautiful twigs for other than shade pur- 
poses. True, it has hitherto only been neces- 
sary to show her one of these twigs without 
any further use being made of it, but I have 

anb JFamilp Hife 

been compelled to raise my bass voice out of 
the study window, when the little hoyden 
absolutely aimed to carry out her will as the 
highest law of the house. Nevertheless, she 
is more intimate with no one than with her 
grandpapa, for he allows her many innocent 
things which mother is not disinclined to 
refuse her. I have only to show myself and 
she runs to meet me, her face beaming with 

"Dear little Theodorchen is also the pet 
of all. He is such a sweet child that he can- 
not possibly save himself from kisses. Al- 
ways friendly, he only laments when he, as 
it seems to me, suffers from teething. There 
is never a lack of arms and hands to carry 
him. Grandmother would like very much to 
teach him to eat, in order to spare his 
mother, but this seems to be the hardest of 
lessons for him. He appears to hold to the 
apostolical, 'I have fed you with milk, and 
not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able 
to bear it, neither yet now are ye able" ; and I 
believe with right, for the basis of this spirit- 
ual sense certainly is the natural truth that 
little children should have mothers' milk." 

His letters to the Keyls are full of such 
affectionate little chats, and we owe the fam- 
ily an immense debt of gratitude for having 


Doctor Carl 

permitted their publication. Written for the 
intimacy of the family circle, they permit 
us to look deep into the very heart of a 
man who could turn aside from the multi- 
tudinous duties resting upon him, to forget, 
for a moment, the oppressive cares which 
burdened his soul in the sweet and pure joys 
of Christian fatherhood. When death en- 
tered the Keyl home, taking two of the little 
ones, this man with the unbending will broke 
down and wept like our Luther at the death- 
bed of his Lenchen. He writes: "To-day, 
when I received the message, and saw 'Phila- 
delphia,' my tears flowed. We all gave our 
tears free course." "My father-heart is also 
torn, and my hand writes while hot tears 
flow from my eyes." "It gives me inexpress- 
ible pain, that I cannot once again see that 
little cherub face and press a kiss upon its 
cold lips." And then he comforts his Magda- 
lenchen, "Meine Goldtochter" he calls her, 
together with her husband, as only a Chris- 
tian father, tried in the fire of affliction, can 

With all this wealth of love and affection, 
there is none of that weakness which so often 
blinds parents to the faults of their children. 
Even little Mili has a will of her own. He 
calls her "a little firecracker," and tells her 


Carriage anb JFamilp Htfe 

parents that she, before she left the home of 
the grandparents, had become much more 
tractable. In a letter, dated May 4, 1860, 
written on shipboard just before landing at 
Hamburg, he tells his wife that their daugh- 
ter Lenchen ought no longer be permitted to 
participate in the games of the pupils. He 
writes to Johannes Walther, his nephew, and 
discusses his reading, warning him against 
the unwholesome tendencies of certain 
dramatists and novelists. He has a watch- 
ful eye upon his two sons, Ferdinand and 
Constantin; corrects and guides and advises. 
It may be doubted that he was fully satisfied 
with Constantin's choice of a profession. 
Ferdinand studied theology; Constantin be- 
came a miller. He says that he was content 
to have the one help people procure bread 
for the body while the other offered them the 
bread from heaven, provided they did it in 
the love of God and their neighbor. He jok- 
ingly speaks of seeing them before him, the 
one in a white, the other in a black coat. It 
will be an odd pair, he thinks. But in a letter 
to his Norwegian friend Ottesen, he says: 
"Ferdinand in these days goes to Brunswick, 
Mo., as pastor designatus. Constantin is 
now millering (muellert jetzt) in Collins- 
ville, 111., in Fick's congregation. The 'mil- 


Doctor Carl 

lering' does not seem to have greatly edified 

What was it he had written to Emilie 
Buenger, when she had promised to become 
his wife? "Oh, how I long that our home 
may be a faithful pattern of a truly Chris- 
tian family, in which God may pass in 
and out, and all the children of God be 
incited to praise the Father in heaven!" 
This prayer was answered. As in the 
home at Nazareth, there was here a sin- 
cere love of God's holy word, an abun- 
dance of tribulation and no lack of heavenly 
comfort. When his beloved Emilie died, on 
August 23, not quite two years before her 
husband, Walther wrote to his children in 
New York : "Her memory will be blessed as 
long as there will be people who knew her. 
Enemies she had none. My tears, indeed, 
flowed plentifully, for what I have lost with 
this my faithful helpmeet may not be put 
into words. But the more I think that she, 
next to God, lived and worked day and night 
only for me, the more I must refuse to be- 
grudge it to her that she is now entered into 
her rest and that her works do follow her." 

Then, with that inevitable regret which 
always grips a man's heart when he has lost 
the love of his youth, the helpmeet and the 

anfc JFamtlp Hife 

companion of a lifetime, he goes on like this : 
"Oh, that I had only honored her more than 
I did in the press of the labors of my call- 
ing! That greatly humbles me; but her 
graciously looking upon me was to me a com- 
forting absolution. Oh, how I rejoice soon 
to see her again !" He had not long to wait. 
Walther died May 7, 1887, 


Chapter 17 



The Missouri Synod biographers and his- 
torians, when describing the events that led 
up to the organization of that powerful 
Church body all tell how Pastor Friedrich 
Wyneken, when the first copy of Der Luth- 
eraner fell into his hands, joyfully exclaimed : 
"Thank God, there are yet more Lutherans 
in America! This suggests several ques- 
tions: What was Der Lutheraner? Who 
was Friedrich Wyneken? Why did he doubt 
that there were other Lutherans in America ? 
What connection was there between his read- 
ing a little church paper and the founding of 
the Missouri Synod? 

The Lutheraner was originally what we 
to-day call a "parish paper," published by 
Walther with the aid of Trinity congrega- 
tion, St. Louis, to serve the needs of his own 
and the other Saxon congregations. Walther 
was its founder and editor, and for years it 
was popularly called Walther 1 s Lutheraner. 
Hochstetter has a story, unauthenticated, as 
so often, according to which the publication 
of this paper was prompted by the following 


circumstances : Walther was very ill during 
the summer of 1 844. When it appeared that 
he might recover he prayed God to give him 
strength and means to write and publish four 
numbers of such a paper in which he might 
present the Lutheran Church in its true light. 
During this illness he was greatly troubled be- 
cause the Lutherans were much calumniated, 
especially by the Baptists and Methodists. 
Be that as it may, it cannot be denied that 
these two denominations at that day felt it 
their duty to promptly "convert" and "Amer- 
icanize" all German and Scandinavian im- 
migrants. Accordingly, they simply denied 
the Church of the Reformation any right to 
exist in this country, and through their 
church papers (especially the Chris flicker 
Apologete, edited by Doctor Nast, of Cincin- 
nati) bitterly attacked its most precious 
teachings and usages. Guenther points out 
the essential fact when he says: "Now the 
time came when Walther' s labors were to ex- 
tend to wider, aye, to the widest circles." 
This could only be accomplished through an 
aggressive use of printers' ink and in God's 
wise providence this little parish paper was 
to become the means to that end. 

Walther, 'speaking of the origin of this 
paper, first describes existing conditions, and 


Doctor Carl t^altfjer 

then goes on to say: "This finally ripened 
in us in association with several other Luth- 
eran pastors, who had emigrated with us, a 
resolve to publish a little paper, which, under 
the frank, honest name, Der Lutheraner, 
was to serve our dear Church according to 
local needs, as God would thereto grant His 
grace. The prospects for the existence of 
such a paper were very, very dark. Our im- 
migrant congregations were still exceedingly 
poor and under the necessity of bringing al- 
most impossible offerings in order to enjoy 
the benefit of properly ordered and well- 
supplied Evangelical Lutheran congrega- 
tions. That they alone should secure the ex- 
istence of the paper could hardly be expected, 
and otherwise we had almost no acquaint- 
ance and connection with pastors and con- 
gregations. We dared send the paper only 
to two, both at present at the head of the so- 
called Saxon congregations as Synodical offi- 
cers, W. and S. Our expectations, or, at least, 
our pretensions, did not extend any further 
than to carry about as many papers into 
wider circles as were necessary to present an 
unmistakable public testimony as to what 
the Lutheran Church and what its doctrine 
really is" (Lutheraner, Vol. 14). To which 
we must add: One has only to read the 




Lutheran Observer of those days to be con- 
vinced that such "unmistakable public testi- 
mony" was not being presented by that 
paper, which, while not an official publica- 
tion, nevertheless professed to speak for the 
vast majority of Lutherans in America. 
Another noteworthy circumstance in connec- 
tion with the Lutheraner, was this : Walther, 
with true pastoral wisdom, discussed this, 
like all other undertakings, with his congre- 
gation and his ministerial brethren. This 
was no doubt one of his reasons for working 
out a Vorlage, or plan, describing the pur- 
pose, the norm and the character of the pro- 
posed publication. With true German thor- 
oughness, he, under three heads, in sixteen 
sub-heads, elaborately sets forth just what 
this paper is to be. If we were to briefly 
summarize its purpose, we would quote points 
2 and 3 : "It is to prove that it (the Luth- 
eran Church) is the true Church of Christ, 
not a sect." "It is to unite the divided mem- 
bers of the Lutheran Church, to recall those 
that are fallen away, and to prove that our 
Church has not become extinct, indeed, never 
can become extinct." Consequently "Every 
article must stand the test of the Holy Script- 
ures and the Symbols of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church." 


Doctor Carl tattfier 

It is the same principle he is always reit- 
erating : Unity through the truth unto union 
in the truth. Consequently, "The character 
of this paper is to be candid and positive ; it 
shall show no false pliability, never sacrifice 
the smallest truth to love and to peace" ; but 
"It shall breathe a spirit of love and forbear- 
ance ; it shall deplore and instruct rather than 
thunder and lighten; it shall be firmly held 
that the Church invisible is everywhere pres- 
ent." Surely, there can be no quarrel with 
such a program, and if the Luther aner, the 
official organ of the Missouri Synod, is to- 
day the most widely circulated Lutheran 
church paper in America, if not in the world, 
it owes its wonderful success to its faithful 
adherence to the principles laid down by 
Walther in this Vorlage, or prospectus, 
which was first presented to Trinity Church, 
St. Louis, in a meeting held June 3, 1844. 
The congregation unanimously approved the 
plan and pledged its support. In a meeting 
held on August 12, many of the members 
promised to subscribe for two copies each, 
and the congregation agreed to pay a balance 
of $4.68, needed to defray the cost of the 
first number, and to assume responsibility 
. for any future deficits. And so on September 
1 , 1 844, the first number appeared, with the 


motto, "God's word and Luther's doctrine 
pure, shall to eternity endure," and the 
avowed purpose of "uniting the divided mem- 
bers of the Lutheran Church, to recall those 
that are fallen away, and to prove that our 
Church has not become extinct ; indeed, never 
can become extinct"; in short, "to prove 
that it is the true Church of Christ, not a 

This was new talk in the Lutheran Church 
of America in the year of grace 1844. In 
1843 a book was printed at No. 7 S. Liberty 
Street, Baltimore, Md., at "The Publication 
Rooms of the Evangelical Luther an Church," 
with a "Recommendation," dated May 19, 
1843, signed by more than two dozen of 
its most prominent ministers, who say that 
they believe it to contain "a correct state- 
ment of the general views of the Lutheran 
Church in the United States." The book 
was a reprint of "a series of numbers re- 
cently published in the Lutheran Observer, 
on the question, "Why are you a Lutheran?" 
by the Rev. B. Kurtz, D.D. And how does 
the author answer this all important ques- 
tion? Briefly stated, by arguing that I have 
the same right to be a Lutheran that any 
other man ha*s to be a member of some other 
denomination. In other words, by making 


Doctor Carl ftealtfcer 

the Lutheran Church a denomination among 
denominations, a sect among sects, and 
weakly pleading for tolerance of his views 
on the part of other and stronger denomina- 
tions, and sects. No wonder the Reforma- 
tion Church in this country was losing its 
children by thousands upon thousands. Why 
should they remain faithful to a Church 
which had only "views" and no convictions, 
whose champions were apologizing for the 
manifest absurdity of her doctrines and sub- 
stituting "Definite Platforms" for her Con- 
fessions of Faith? What was to hold them? 

But here comes a man who gives another 
answer to this question: "Why are you a 
Lutheran?" He says: "Because the Lutheran 
Church is the true Church of Christ, and not 
a sect." That has a different ring. If I am con- 
vinced of that truth I cannot be anything else 
than a Lutheran. No wonder Wyneken ex- 
claimed: "Thank God, there are yet more 
Lutherans in America!" A missionary and 
member of the Pennsylvania Ministerium, 
and thus of the General Synod, he wanted 
his own Church body to give answer to this 
question in the same unequivocal fashion. 
When it failed or refused to do so, he was 
glad to find somebody that did. 

But who was Friedrich Konrad Dietrich 



Wyneken, and what was his connection with 
Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther? Born 
May 13, 1810, in Hannover, Germany, he 
studied theology at Goettingen and Halle, 
and came to America in 1838, landing in 
Baltimore, where he made the acquaintance 
of Pastor Johann Haesbert, who served a 
congregation which had separated from Zion 
Church, once served by Doctor Daniel Kurtz. 
Through Haesbert, Wyneken received a 
commission from the Mission Board of the 
Pennsylvania Ministerium to gather the 
scattered German Protestants of Indiana 
into congregations. His energetic self-sacri- 
ficing labors in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, 
form a magnificent chapter in the home mis- 
sion history of our Church. Gifted with the 
North German talent for organization, he 
became the spiritual father of dozens of con- 
gregations. In 1841, with the permission of 
his congregation at Fort Wayne, Ind., which 
he had made his headquarters, he went to 
Germany to call for men to assist him to 
shepherd the Lutheran multitudes of the 
new fatherland. He organized the Mission- 
ary Society for North America at Dresden, 
Saxony, and succeeded in securing the enthu- 
siastic intere*st of Pfarrer Loehe, of Neuen- 
dettelsau, Bavaria, for his work. Upon his 


Junctor Carl ftealfter 

return to America, he again plunges into his 
work, keeping up his correspondence with 
the Church at home, urging and begging for 
help. In 1844 Pastor Haesbert left Balti- 
more to go to South America. Wyneken be- 
came his successor, and was installed March 
9, 1845, by Daniel Kurtz. Two months later, 
in May, 1845, at a meeting of the Gen- 
eral Synod at Philadelphia, Wyneken urged 
that one of two things be done to clear 
that Synod of the charge of having forsaken 
the doctrine of the Lutheran Church : Either 
submit the books and writings of the Doctors 
Kurtz and Schmucker to such recognized 
Lutheran theologians as the Doctors Rudel- 
bach and Harless for examination; or to re- 
pudiate these books and the false doctrines 
they contained. The General Synod did 
neither, whereupon Wyneken went back to 
Baltimore and promptly withdrew to stand 
alone. He had already gone through similar 
experiences in "the Synod of the West," 
where, for lack of arguments, they smiled 
at his poor English. Nothing daunted, 
Wyneken simply told them: "You have 
heard so much poor stuff in good English 
that you can well stand hearing something 
good in poor English" ; which was no doubt 


On his way to Baltimore Wyneken stopped 
at Pomeroy, Ohio, to meet a man who had 
attracted his attention by writing certain ar- 
ticles for the Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, 
published by Friedrich Schmidt, at Pittsburgh, 
Pa. It was Doctor W. Sihler, who, having at- 
tended a military school with Von Moltke, 
studied philosophy and philology, traveled 
and taught at Dresden, Saxony, came to 
America, at the instance of Pastor Loehe, 
to serve his Lord as a preacher of the gospel. 
He landed at New York in 1843, where he 
visited Pastor Demme. In Baltimore, where 
he was the guest of Pastor Haesbert, he 
made the acquaintance of Doctor B. Kurtz 
and Doctor John G. Morris. He traveled 
to Columbus, Ohio, where he visited the 
Theological Seminary and the Professors 
Schaefer and Winkler. Then, in December, 
1843, he began to preach in a German min- 
ing settlement at Pomeroy. Pastor Adam 
Ernst and Pastor G. Buerger, the first of the 
men sent over by Loehe, landed in New 
York September, 26, 1842. Both were mem- 
bers of the Ohio Synod. Not wishing to 
stand alone, Sihler received ordination, after 
he had refused to permit himself to be 
licensed to preach, and became a member of 
this body. But not for long, When he, like 


Doctor Carl 

Wyneken, at Fort Wayne and Philadelphia, 
began to urge greater doctrinal and pastoral 
faithfulness upon the Synod, he soon found 
himself in conscience and duty bound to sever 
his connection with it, which he, with seven 
other ministers and one teacher, did through 
formal written protest, dated Cleveland, 
Ohio, September 18, 1845. Wyneken was 
present at this Cleveland meeting, and it was 
here that the plan of forming a Synodical 
organization, together with Walther and the 
Saxons, was first broached. 

Sihler had come to Fort Wayne, July 15, 
1845, where he took charge of Wyneken's 
former congregation, and the two students, 
Jaebker and Frincke, left as a legacy by that 
energetic missionary. The following year 
(1846) Loehe sent over eleven young men 
with a teacher, Candidate Carl August W. 
Roebbelin, and funds for the establishment 
of a missionary institute under direction of 
Doctor Sihler. On November 12, of the 
same year, three more young men came over, 
the Candidates Walter, Fick and Francke. 
This marks the beginning of the so-called 
"Practical Seminary," for the training of 
what Loehe called "Nothelfer" "Helpers 
in Need." In a letter to Pastor Brunn, dated 
March 2, 1861, Walther says of the men 

trained at this school: "Our so-called prac- 
tically trained preachers are the best element 
of our Ministerium. They not infrequently, 
in preaching, in the care of souls, and in the 
government of congregations, surpass those 
equipped with learned sciences." 

Meanwhile an entire missionary congrega- 
tion had come over under the leadership of 
the pastors August Craemer and Friedrich 
Lochner, to establish a colony on the Chip- 
pewa reservations of the Saginaw Valley, 
Mich., and teach the Lutheran doctrine of 
justification by faith to these poor heathen. 
Pastor Hattstaedt, of Monroe, welcomed 
them, and they founded a settlement on the 
Cass River, which they named Frankenmuth, 
after their Bavarian home. They tell an in- 
teresting story of these Franconian colonies. 
They called the first settlement "Franken- 
muth," for it took courage to cross the ocean 
and settle in the backwoods swamps of Mich- 
igan. In their privations and struggles they 
needed comfort, so they called the second set- 
tlement "Frankentrost." Then Loehe sent 
more people and help, so they founded 
"Frankenhilf." Then all went well, and 
they called the next settlement "Franken- 
lust," whicfi means "the joy of the Franks." 
There is a fifth settlement, southwest of 


Doctor Carl 

"Frankenlust," which they call "Amelith." 
Just why nobody knows, and to-day its in- 
habitants are jokingly called "Die A male- 
kitcr" ("the Amalekites"). 

The pastors of these missionary congre- 
gations joined the Michigan Synod. Their 
instructions forbade their serving "mixed 
congregations" (Lutheran and Reformed), 
and they had been pledged on the Symbols 
of the Lutheran Church. Consequently their 
stay in the Michigan Synod was brief, and 
on June 20, 1 846, the four pastors, Craemer, 
Lochner, Hattstaedt and Trautmann, for- 
mally severed their relations with that body. 
Loehe had also instructed the men he trained 
and sent over to "seek contact with the faith- 
ful emigrant Saxon pastors and their congre- 
gations, who had been freed from Stephan- 
ism." The Luther aner, which they circu- 
lated in their congregations, was the best 
of all means for the carrying out of these 

Besides these Franks in Michigan, the 
Plattdeutch in Indiana and Ohio, the Hes- 
sians in Baltimore, and the Berliners in New 
York City, there was another group of 
Lutherans in Western New York and Wis- 
consin, to whom Walther and the Saxons 
might look, not only for subscribers to their 



Lutheraner, but for a cordial welcome of 
all efforts looking toward the establish- 
ment of closest fraternal relations. They 
had many things in common. Both had 
manfully contended for the truth against 
unbelieving Church authorities at home. 
These Prussian , Lutherans had even en- 
dured direct persecution. Their leader, 
Pastor Andreas Grabau, had been twice im- 
prisoned for resisting the establishment of 
the "Prussian Union," with its non-com- 
mittal "Agende." Both had emigrated to 
America to preserve the faith once delivered 
to the saints for themselves and their poster- 
ity, the possession of which had been guar- 
anteed these Prussians by their old Bugen- 
hagen "Kirchenordnung." 

Grabau left Germany with one thousand 
souls eight months after the Saxons. He 
was followed by the Pastors G. A. Kinder- 
mann, L. Krause and H. von Rohr, with 
other emigrants. They founded strong set- 
tlements in and near Buffalo, N. Y., and in 
Wisconsin. They largely outnumbered the 
Saxons, and Hochstetter, himself a member 
of the Synod they organized in 1845, very 
correctly says that, in the judgment of man, 
a union between these Prussians and the 
Missouri Saxons would have been of in- 


Doctor Carl 

calculable blessing to the Church at large. 

But it was not to be. Instead, an un- 
fortunate doctrinal controversy sprang up, 
which harassed pastors and congregations 
for twenty-five years. Certain occurrences, 
chiefly caused by the lack of ministers among 
these Prussian Lutherans, prompted Pastor 
Grabau, in 1840, to write a "pastoral letter" 
( "Hirtenbrief " ) to these congregations. He 
sent a copy to the Saxons, requesting a 
Gutachten, or theological opinion. These 
found in Grabau's "Hirtenbrief" doctrines 
and principles emphasizing the self-same 
hierarchical tendencies which "Bishop" 
Stephan had so effectively used to tyrannize 
his misguided followers. The Saxons did 
not immediately reply. How could they? 
They had troubles of their own. The Alten- 
burg debate was not held until April, 1841. 
Finally, when action could not longer be de- 
layed, for Grabau proposed the joint found- 
ing of a theological seminary, and through 
Pastor Krause requested a formal statement 
of their position by the Saxons, Pastor Gott- 
hold Loeber, who, as the eldest of the Mis- 
souri pastors, had had the matter in hand, 
wrote a considerate, carefully worded, yet 
thorough reply, to Pastor Grabau, under 
date of July 3, 1843. This matter had 



caused Walther and his associates much con- 
cern. It was to cause them more in the 
future. Walther later said: "Our contro- 
versy with Buffalo is a cross which would 
again and again almost crush us to the 
ground." (Letter to Brunn, 1861.) For 
the moment the gist of what they said in 
their "Gutachten" of the "Hirtenbrief," was 
this : "It would seem to us on the one hand, 
with respect to the so much emphasized old 
Kirchenordnungen, the essential and the un- 
essential, the divine and the human, have 
been confused, and therewith Christian lib- 
erty curtailed; on the other hand, however, 
more ascribed to the ministerial office than 
belongs to it, and therewith the spiritual 
priesthood of the congregations forced into 
the background." For people who had just 
passed through their experiences, this was 
more than mild. Grabau did not think so. 
He promptly accused the "Missourians" 
(they owe this name to him) of "errors" and 
"a lax, unchurchly spirit." The fight was on, 
and it was to be fought with increasing bitter- 
ness to the end. Walther sums up the result 
like this: "First we here had to be led by 
our own errors to the verge of temporal and 
spiritual ruin, in order that, saved by God's 
interference without our doing, we then, that 


Doctor Carl 

we may say so, as burnt children might the 
more immovably protest against these same 
errors appearing elsewhere" (Lutheraner, 
Vol. 14). 

Now, let us sum up the situation as it ap- 
peared in 1844, when Walther's Luther- 
aner was issued "to unite the divided mem- 
bers of the Church, to recall those that are 
fallen away, and to prove that our Church 
has not become extinct; indeed, never can 
become extinct." 

Graebner in his "History of the Lutheran 
Church in America" (what a pity he did not 
live to complete his work ! ) , speaking of the 
year 1821, sums it up like this: "Thus there 
was in America an Evangelical Lutheran 
General Synod, which was neither Evangelical 
Lutheran nor a General Synod; beside it a 
considerable number of un-Lutheran Luth- 
erans, and only a few pastors and congrega- 
tions with whom a real, even if, so far as a 
knowledge of Lutheran truth is concerned, 
a weak Lutheranism struggled for an exist- 
ence." A rather sweeping characterization, 'tis 
true ; but it may, without any lack of charity 
or veracity, be applied to September 1 , 1 844, 
the date of the first issue of Walther's Luth- 
eraner, as it was to March, 1821, with which 
date Graebner closes the first volume of his 


work. With this difference, there were some 
few people crying, "The sword of the Lord 
and Gideon!" And Gideon's name was 




A strong man always surrounds himself 
with strong men. A weak man, who can 
neither brook criticism nor contradiction, 
usually gathers around himself "me too" 
weaklings, who stand ready to applaud all 
of his sayings and doings. Invariably this is 
the source of his undoing. 

The men who answered the clarion call 
of Walther's Lutheraner, Wyneken, Sihler, 
Ernst, Buerger, Lochner and Craemer, were 
anything but "me too" weaklings. Their 
protests and withdrawals from the several 
Church bodies which refused to receive their 
testimony, amply proves that. If further 
proof were needed, it might be found in their 
voluminous correspondence with Walther 
preliminary to the organization of the Mis- 
souri Synod. Walther, in a letter to Brohm, 
dated March 8, 1846, speaks of his cor- 
respondence. He says: From time to time 
I must write to Keyl, Loeber, Goenner, 
Wege, Geyer, Schieferdecker, Fuerbringer, 
Sihler, Wyneken, Ernst, and several other 
pastors in Indiana and Ohio, less known to 

J>pnobteal Organisation 

you, often on the most important matters." 
These "most important matters" were ques- 
tions concerning the framing of a constitu- 
tion for the new Synod. That Walther's 
views were not simply accepted without ar- 
gument or debate, appears from the letters 
he wrote in reply to questions addressed to 
him by Sihler and Ernst. The letter to 
Sihler, dated January 2, 1845, is a most vol- 
uminous document, answering with full de- 
tail no less than eleven direct questions. His 
letter to Ernst, dated August 21, 1845, just 
a month before the Cleveland meeting, 
where the organization of a new Synod was 
first publicly discussed, it is not quite so 
lengthy, but just as full and explicit. In this 
letter Walther says: "Let us also for the 
future not be mistrustful of the Lord our 
God, when He at times lets us, who are still 
so few, be told, 'The people that are with 
thee are too many.' Enough that we have 
the trumpet of the gospel in our hands and 
the lamp of faith in the empty pitchers of 
our hearts. See Judges 7." Plainly, these 
men were not minded to attach too much im- 
portance to mere numbers. They knew that 
in His kingdom God does not merely count, 
but weighs. And the name of His balance 
is faithfulness; even as He says : "Moreover 


Doctor Carl tt&altfter 

it is required in stewards, that a man be 
found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). 

Walther, it seems, was not present at the 
Cleveland meeting of 1845. A second meet- 
ing was arranged for May, 1846, at St. 
Louis, where the Pastors Sihler, Ernst and 
Lochner met in conference with the Pastors 
Walther, Loeber, Keyl, Gruber, Schiefer- 
decker and Fuerbringer, to discuss the draft 
of a constitution, which had been prepared 
by Walther and presented to Trinity congre- 
gation for its consideration on May 1 1 . The 
above-named pastors devoted an entire week 
to its discussion, which ended by their sign- 
ing it, arranging to have copies prepared 
for submission to men who could not be 
present, and agreeing to meet again at Fort 
Wayne in July of the same year. Trinity 
congregation devoted ten meetings to its con- 
sideration, finally expressing its approval in 
a meeting held February 22, 1847, with the 
important provision that a paragraph be 
added declaring the Synod to be only an ad- 
visory body, the resolutions of which were 
to be ineffective until approved by the con- 
gregations. Walther and Trinity Church put 
the "Initiative and Referendum" into the 
constitution of the Missouri Synod. 

This was Sihler's first meeting with 


Walther and the other Saxon pastors. His 
impression of Walther is interesting. In his 
autobiography he writes: "Walther unde- 
niably made the most weighty impression 
upon us ; at that time not yet thirty-five, but 
in the expression of his face strangely aged, 
probably by the many and heavy conflicts he 
had to undergo in the congregation after 
Stephan's exposure. But his thoughts and 
words were full of spirit and life. ... In 
our conferences it was chiefly he who was 
the quickening and formative principle in the 
drafting of the main features for a faithful, 
i.e., Lutheran union of congregations or 
Synod. He herein first revealed his remark- 
able talent for organization, of which I pos- 
sess so little." Lochner, Loehe's talentvoller 
Juengling (talented youth), speaks in a sim- 
ilar vein: "What an altogether different per- 
sonality there appeared to us, since we had 
indeed imagined him as a spiritual but still 
as a more comfortable appearing man. And 
with what love, with what joy and friendli- 
ness he received us strangers, and how con- 
siderately he treated us during the following 
days. Soon he had won our complete confi- 
dence, our complete love." 

Lochner and Sihler also attended an ex- 
tra meeting of the St. Louis congregation, 


Doctor Carl 

where the draft of the Synodical constitu- 
tion was discussed. To the almost indignant 
astonishment of the two visitors Walther 
encountered no little opposition on the part 
of the congregation. The people had the 
bugaboo of a German Consistorium before 
their eyes, and feared to lose congregational 
rights which had cost them so dear. With 
infinite patience Walther showed his people 
that a properly constituted Synodical organ- 
ization, far from depriving, rather secured 
to the congregations forming it the posses- 
sion of the rights indicated by the words, 
"Tell it unto the Church" ("Gemeinde, con- 
gregation") (Matt. 18: 17). 

The visiting ministers, Sihler says, were 
invited to preach in token of the unity of 
faith and doctrine. It was an application 
of the ancient rule of the Church spoken of 
by Bingham in his "Antiquities," according 
to which a visiting clergyman, unless he be 
an errorist or unable to give proof of his 
standing, must be invited to take some part 
of the service, if only to read the gospel or 
give the blessing to the people. These men 
had brought Church traditions, customs and 
manners with them; and, like all well-bred 
persons, they almost unconsciously acted 
upon them. Lochner's sermon, so Sihler 


<$2>nobital Organisation 

says, was somewhat of a trial sermon, not 
for a congregation but for a wife. He had 
asked for the hand of Lydia Buenger, 
Walther's sister-in-law. Lochner was not 
only a "talented," but also a "most lovable 
youth," yet she, although sure of the consent 
of her mother, was not ready to say "Yes" 
before she had heard him preach, assured 
herself of his orthodoxy and became some- 
what acquainted with him. Not only these 
men but these women also had brought 
Church traditions with them. Sihler depre- 
ciates his own and praises Lochner' s sermon. 
He and Lydia married in June, and so 
Lochner not only took a Synodical con- 
stitution but a bride home to Toledo with 
him, where Walther visited the happy young 
couple after the July Fort Wayne confer- 
ence. Perhaps inspired by Lochner's exam- 
ple, and under the necessity of entertaining 
this conference, Sihler, with the advice and 
assistance of his friend, Pastor Ernst, also 
took a wife with him to Fort Wayne from 
her home at Nuendettelsau, Union County, 
Ohio. She was considerably younger than 
Sihler, who naively says that Boaz called 
Ruth, the Moabitess, his daughter before 
she became his wife, and, according to the 
flesh, an ancestress of our Lord. His ac- 


Doctor Carl 

count of his courtship and marriage is worth 

The meeting for a further consideration 
of the draft of the constitution, which had 
been signed on May 20, at St. Louis, by 
Walther, Loeber, Gruber, Keyl, Fuer- 
bringer, Schieferdecker, Ernst, Sihler and 
Buenger, was held at Fort Wayne. There 
were sixteen ministers present, despite the 
difficulty and expense of travel in those pio- 
neer days. Thus the trip from St. Louis to 
Fort Wayne cost $50, and consumed four 
days for each way. Nevertheless, Walther, 
Loeber, Keyl and Brohm, came from St. 
Louis with a lay delegate, a Mr. Barthells, 
traveling via the Ohio River to Cincinnati, 
and then by canal to Fort Wayne. The 
Michigan men, Craemer, Hattstaedt, and 
several members of their congregations, 
traveled by lake boat to Toledo, and then to 
the place of meeting via the Wabash Canal. 
They met Walther and Loeber at the Cincin- 
nati Junction, seventy miles from Toledo. 
Lochner repeats what Loeber told him of the 
meeting. As the Toledo canal boat ap- 
proached the landing, Walther pointed out 
several men, attired in dignified black, with 
their long pipes (undoubtedly Weichsel stem 
and porcelain bowl, such as German students 


carry to-day) , standing upon the deck. They 
were Craemer, the Indian missionary and 
pastor of Frankenmuth, with several of his 
companion Franks. Craemer describes the 
first meeting like this : "It did not take long, 
when a slender man, with a prominent nose 
and fiery eyes, stepped out of the door of 
the little inn, followed by a mild looking tall 
man and a young student, who at once came 
aboard our boat. Of course, the former 
was Walther, the other the venerable Pastor 
Loeber and his son. The joy of the happy 
meeting was great on both sides, and soon, 
while we were riding along the canal easily 
and undisturbed, all were engaged in eager 
conversation. Thus I met Walther. It 
meant much to me to personally and nearer 
learn to know the man, whom I, by his 
Lutheraner, had already recognized as a pil- 
lar of real Biblical Lutheran truth. On the 
other hand, Walther also wished to know 
what kind of man it was whom Loeber had 
sent over to order the colonization and mis- 
sion work, and to be the leader of his pupils. 
Soon we were deep in an earnest discussion of 
doctrine in all points, which lasted for the 
whole long trip." 

Walther had again found a real man, fit 
to sit in council with men of the Wyneken, 


doctor Carl Waltfjer 

Fuerbringer, Sihler type. Of course, recog- 
nition and appreciation was immediate and 
mutual. It was a memorable meeting, for 
these two men were to spend their lives at 
the head of the two Missouri schools of the 
prophets; Walther at Concordia Seminary, 
St. Louis, and Craemer at Concordia Semi- 
nary, Springfield. If the men they trained 
for the service of the Church, think, speak, 
preach and act as one man, it is because of 
the perfect unanimity of these their teachers 
"in all points of doctrine." Both of them, 
by the way, had "a prominent nose and fiery 
eyes," together with an indomitable will, un- 
compromising convictions, an immense ca- 
pacity for work and an unflagging zeal for 
the house of the Lord, which never forsook 
them while breath remained in their poor, 
worn out bodies. 

Lochner, Buerger, Selle, Ernst, Knape, 
Jaekber and Husmann were also present at 
this Fort Wayne conference. Besides the 
sixteen ministers in attendance, six others, 
unable to be present, sent their written ap- 
proval of the constitution. Sihler sums up 
the proceedings like this: "Of course, here, 
as in St. Louis, the Saxon brethren, especially 
Walther, had to fatten the sprouts (den 
Kohl fett machevi), for we Easterners were 

pretty much novices for this ticklish and dif- 
ficult work. Still, we all had fresh courage 
and good confidence, and at the end resolved 
to meet at Chicago in the spring of 1847, 
with delegates from the congregations to 
form an orthodox little Synod (ein recht- 
gl'dubiges Synodlein)." In passing, let us 
note that the Pastors Loeber and Walther 
preached in Fort Wayne during this confer- 
ence week, again in token of unity of faith 
and doctrine. Although not a theologian 
born, Sihler knew Church traditions, customs 
and manners when he saw them. 

Jubilate Sunday, May 25, 1847, was the 
day set for the pastors and lay delegates 
to meet for the organizing of the new synod- 
lein. The place of meeting was Chicago, 111., 
at that time a town of 20,000 inhabitants. It 
had no railroad connection with Fort Wayne, 
and so Sihler and his "Easterners" traveled 
180 miles on horseback to reach the place 
of meeting. Craemer and his delegate came 
by boat. Navigation had just opened; the 
lakes were still full of floating ice, and so 
they were delayed. Wyneken, for some 
reason, was not present. The Baltimore con- 
gregation joined at the second meeting in 
1848. The Saxons, Walther, Loeber and 
Fuerbringer, were the first to come ; the two 


Carl Waltiw 

latter, however, without lay delegates. 
Schieferdecker and Keyl, who had signed 
the first draft of constitution at the St. 
Louis meeting, May, 1846, were also absent. 
Schieferdecker had attempted to read the 
constitution to his congregation, but, as 
Walther tells Lochner, "the greatest rude- 
ness was offered by the congregation, and 
the members almost came to blows with each 
other." It took ten meetings, with Walther 
leading the discussions, to convince Trinity 
congregation, St. Louis, of the benefits of 
Synodical organization. With some congre- 
gations it took more than ten times ten. 
They simply could not understand that a 
federation of congregations is not neces- 
sarily a federation of ministers. Still, there 
were twelve congregations properly repre- 
sented at Chicago and ready to form the 
new organization. The host at the Chicago 
meeting was Pastor Selle and his congrega- 

At the Sunday service Pastor Loeber 
preached on the gospel for the day, John 1 6 : 
16-23. The name of the day, the invitation 
of the Introit, the promise of the Gospel, 
all were encouragingly prophetic. The Holy 
Communion was administered in connection 
with this service. Pastor Sihler preached at 


ical <&rgani?atuin 

the afternoon service on Acts 2 : 42. In the 
evening the pastors gathered at the parson- 
age of Pastor Selle, and talked over plans 
for the opening session on Monday morning. 
Finally, on May 26, 1847, twelve congrega- 
tions, each represented by a pastor and a lay 
delegate, with ten other pastors and two 
candidates of theology, formally adopted 
and signed the constitution, elected tempo- 
rary officers, and settled down to work. And 
work they did. The Secretary writes : "Dur- 
ing the meeting of Synod ten temporary com- 
mittees were appointed, which, in the main, 
were concerned with very important and dif- 
ficult matters; one theological opinion was 
given; three instructions and six other writ--, 
ings prepared; colloquiums held four times; 
two ministers received ecclesiastical ordina- 
tion, and there was preaching seven times. 

"A total of eighteen public Synodical meet- 
ings were held, in the last of which the offi- 
cers and standing committees for the ensu- 
ing three-year term were elected, and finally 
the visitor commissioned by the Synod sok 
emnly sent forth." 

This "visitor" was a traveling missionary 
sent forth to look up the scattered Lutherans 
of Northern Illinois and Southern Wiscon- 
sin. The President of the new Synod was 


Doctor Carl f^altfjer 

the man primarily responsible not only for 
its organization, but for the form which that 
organization took. The truths defended 
and the principles laid down by Walther at 
the Altenburg Debate, in April, 1841, and 
first applied in organizing and ordering the 
affairs of the St. Louis congregation, were 
here again, under his leadership, applied to 
the organization of the Evangelical Lutheran 
Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other States. 
Walther, and no other man, was the founder 
of the Missouri Synod. The genesis of its 
constitution must be sought in the Altenburg 
Theses. The Synod itself recognized this 
when, in 1850, it resolved to publish Walth- 
er's book, "The Voice of our Church on the 
Question of Church and Office," as "a testi- 
mony of our faith for defence against the 
attacks of P. Grabau, in Buffalo, N. Y." 

It is one thing to design a machine; it is 
quite another to make it perform its func- 
tions. Walther, the first President, also did 
this other and more difficult thing he guided 
the machine constructed at Chicago until it 
worked smoothly and efficiently, perform- 
ing the functions for which it was designed. 
As stated in the constitution, these were : ( 1 ) 
"The preservation and cultivation of the 
unity of the pure Confession and the com- 


J^mobtcal Organisation 

mon warding off of separatistic and sectarian 
confusion," and (2) "the protection and 
guarding of the rights and duties of pastors 
and congregations." Accordingly the Presi- 
dent was given elaborate and detailed instruc- 
tions for the administration of his office. Not 
the least important duty assigned to him was 
the regular visiting of all its pastors, congre- 
gations and institutions. He was to be an 
"overseer" in every Scriptural sense of the 
word. And there was plenty for him to 
"oversee" for this Synod, so small in num- 
bers, started out with a marvelously complete 
equipment. It had two seminaries, a Home 
and an Indian Mission work, a parish school 
system, an official church paper, Walther^s 
Lutheraner, with Walther as editor, and a 
doctrinal controversy on its hands. Pastor 
Grabau and his "Prussians" had been cordi- 
ally invited by the Fort Wayne conference 
to attend the Chicago meeting. He stood 
aloof, prophesying disaster. He was soon 
to go over to direct and bitter attack. The 
attitude of Pfarrer Loehe, in Germany, was 
also in doubt. He was dissatisfied with the 
constitution. He disapproved of what he 
called "its strong intermixing of democratic, 
independent congregational principles." Syn- 
od, therefore, cordially invited him to attend 


Doctor Carl 

its second session, to be held at St. Louis, in 
1848. Instead of accepting the invitation, 
Loehe entered into correspondence with 

These things might have been more 
calmly faced if the several elements compos- 
ing the Synod had had a little more time to 
grow together and convince themselves that 
their "rights and duties were to be protected 
and guarded." But here it must not be over- 
looked that congregations served by men like 
Loeber, Fuerbringer and Brohm were not 
immediately convinced of the advantages of 
Synodical membership; that men like Keyl 
and Schieferdecker did not even become "ad- 
visory members" (berathende glieder} ; that 
Selle could not even persuade the Chicago 
congregation, in whose midst the Synod was 
organized, to join the new Church body; 
that changes in the constitution were vigor- 
ously urged by pastors and congregations, 
like Keyl, of Frohna, Mo.; Leonhard, of 
Lancaster, Ohio; Geier, of Watertown, 
Wis., who acted as if a failure to promptly 
endorse their pet notions would surely jeop- 
ardize the whole future of the Church at 
large. The new Herr Praeses had his work 
cut out for him. He was a little over thirty- 
five years of age when these new and ardu- 

ical Organisation 

ous duties were imposed upon him. No 
wonder Sihler says of him that he was "in 
semen Gesichtszuegen merk-wuerdig geal- 
tert" ("in the expression of his face strangely 
aged"). No wonder Walther wrote to 
Lochner, September 20, 1850: "I look for- 
ward to our approaching Synodical proceed- 
ings with a trembling heart, yet with firm 
confidence in God's help." Never mind, 
Herr Praeses, "Commit thy way unto the 
Lord, trust also in Him : and He shall bring 
it to pass." 



Controbci'sp totnj Buffalo 

When David says, "The zeal of thine 
house hath eaten me up," he is not thinking 
so much of the labors he performed in his 
Lord's cause as of the controversies and 
contentions he endured because of his love 
of his Lord's word. He tells us this himself, 
for the whole text runs : "The zeal of thine 
house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches 
of them that reproached Thee are fallen 
upon me" (Ps. 69:9). He says the same 
thing in the 119th Psalm: "My zeal hath 
consumed me, because mine enemies have 
forgotten Thy words" (v. 139). That was 
the thing that hurt, the forgetting of his 
Lord's word. 

Walther never really complains of the 
burden of his labors any more than Paul 
does when he apologizes for telling us, among 
other things, that "the care of all the 
churches came upon him daily." To be sure, 
he speaks of his work; usually at the close of 
a letter, when asking pardon for a seeming 
inattention or an imaginary briefness. He 
there may say; "Please be content for this 

tottf) Buffalo 

time with this little. At my return after a 
lengthy absence a whole mountain of to be 
disposed of business lies before me" (Vol. I, 
p. 135) . But he does complain most bitterly 
of the unending controversies forced upon 
him by people who considered themselves to 
be the only faithful Lutherans and him a 
heretic and false prophet. That hurt. And 
so he writes to Stephanus Keyl: "I am 
often so tired of the conflict, that I am 
strongly tempted to bury my sword and 
shield, if no one wants it; and to spend 
my life, so much as the Lord of life and 
death may yet grant me, meditando like 
Jerome at the crib of Bethlehem. I am con- 
sidered contentious ; if I were rightly known, 
it would soon be seen that I rather shun con- 
tention, and that only God's command im- 
pels me to remain under arms." There is a 
nice alliteration in the German, which it is 
impossible to preserve. He says: "Man 
haelt mich fuer streitsuechtig ; ich bin viel- 
mehr streitfluechtig" Still, his controver- 
sies were unceasing. For this reason, it 
might be said of Walther, as it was of 
Luther, "He was the best hated man in the 
Church of his day." And yet, like Luther, 
no man ever more highly appreciated true 
catholicity *and hated sectarian separatism 


doctor Carl 

and exclusiveness. In his first letter to Sihler, 
written in 1845, he says that even under 
Stephan their one aim had been to give evi- 
dence of the most perfect faithfulness to the 
true Lutheran Church, and that nothing had 
made them miss this more than their stub- 
born exclusiveness. "The more dangerous 
and pernicious this became for us, the more 
we long for a most careful preservation of 
true catholicity and an avoiding of all sepa- 
ratism" (Vol. I, p. 6). He writes to Brohm 
in 1846: "I hate the sectarian exclusion and 
self-inclusion (Abschliessen und Sichein- 
schliessen) of the Grabau-minded" (Vol. I, 
p. 7 ) . He resents Grabau's having declared 
himself and his adherents to be the Church, 
when he calls the Synod he organized, "The 
Synod of the Lutheran Church emigrated 
from Prussia" (Vol. I, p. 88). This posi- 
tion reminds him of Stephan's teaching, and 
he does not hesitate to say: "Grabau with 
his adherents is nothing but the second, unim- 
proved edition of Stephan and his adherents" 
(Vol. I, p. 88). Convinced of that fact, 
controversy was inevitable. 

It was not sought. Walther had other 
things to do besides looking beyond his own 
congregation for work and trouble. For one 
thing, after his return home as President of 

Controfoersp tottti Buffalo 

the newly-organized Synod, a most disas- 
trous fire devastated a large section of St. 
Louis. Breaking out on the evening of As- 
cension Day, it laid waste several of the best 
streets of the city, destroyed 640 houses and 
27 river steamers tied up at the wharves, de- 
manded its toll of human life, and caused 
unspeakable suffering among the unfortunate 
people who had lost their homes and prop- 
erty. In his sermon, preached in Exaudi 
Sunday, Walther exclaims: "And who can 
count the tears and sighs which this calamity 
has pressed and will still press! Oh, and 
several dear members of our congregation 
also belong to the sorely smitten, who look 
with tears upon the ash heaps into which their 
homes and their possessions have been trans- 

Walther, with Trinity congregation, was 
at this time organizing the "Immanuel's Dis- 
trict," and building a second church, which 
was dedicated Sexagesima Sunday, 1848, 
purchasing a cemetery, establishing a mission 
school, which afterwards became the "Con- 
cordia District" (now Kreuz) ; purchasing 
a fine lot for a new school building in the 
"Trinity District"; taking a most active in- 
terest in the affairs of Concordia College, 
Perry County; providing the salary for its 


Doctor Carl D&altfter 

professor, Rector Goenner ; regularly editing 
and issuing the Lutheraner, which became the 
property of Synod with the publication of 
its fourth volume. Since Walther remained 
editor, his labors were not lightened. If any- 
thing, they were made a little more bur- 
densome by the suggestions and criticisms 
of well-intentioned but inexperienced people 
(Report of Second Convention, p. 25), 
who fully exercised the privileges suggested 
by the addition to the title, "Published by 
the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Mis- 
souri, Ohio and other States, edited by C. F. 
W. Walther." The congregation published 
a new Church hymnal in 1847, to replace 
the various eighteenth century collections in 
the hands of the people. The book was 
edited by Walther in association with other 
Missouri pastors, and printed by H. Ludwig 
and Co., 70 Vesey Street, New York. 
Walther writes to Brohm: "We have 
selected the hymnal with great pains and 
many sighs. God grant it may be worthy 
of use by the congregation of the faithful! 
I am very anxious for your judgment" (Let- 
ters, Vol. I, p. 39) . The St. Louis Gesammt- 
gemeinde generously presented this hymnal 
to the Synod in 1862, and it is being used by 
the "congregation of the faithful" to this 


Controller^ tmtf) Buffalo 

day. A revision has never even been sug- 
gested, which certainly says much for the 
correctness of the principles followed by 
Walther and his co-workers in its prepara- 
tion. (Se Guenther, p. 74.) The first 
"Agende" (Book of Worship) was pub- 
lished by authority of Synod in 1856. It is 
a compilation of the old orthodox Saxon 
orders. Loehe's "Agende," for which Fried- 
rich Hommel wrote his "Liturgie Luther- 
ischer Gemeinde Gottesdienste," in 1851, 
was used by the Michigan, Ohio and Indiana 
congregations. Hommel and the fourth 
part of Layritz's "Kern des Lutherischen 
Kirchengesangs," 1853, are the two sources 
of the worship music of the Missouri Synod. 
Loehe's "Agende" was gradually supplanted 
by the "Agende" published with the authority 
of Synod. Trinity congregation entertained 
the Synod during its second convention, held 
June 21 to July 1, 1848. The third conven- 
tion was held at Fort Wayne, June 6-16, 
1849. Walther writes Sihler, the Vice-Presi- 
dent, on May 10, 1849, that his coming to 
the meeting is most improbable, because of 
an epidemic of cholera in St. Louis. Condi- 
tions must have been frightful. Entire fam- 
ilies died out, and it was difficult to get 
wagons to remove the dead. Walther man- 


doctor Carl 

aged to reach Fort Wayne before the close 
of the sessions, and then hastened back to 
St. Louis, where he and Vicar Buenger 
labored day and night among the afflicted 
and terrified people, playing the part of faith- 
ful pastors, as described by Luther in his 
tract, "If One may Flee Death?" written 
when the pest raged in Wittenberg. Walther 
issued a reprint of this tract, and regularly 
held services of intercession and prayer on 
Wednesday afternoons with his congrega- 
tion during the entire period of sore trial 
and distress. 

Walther's letters discussing and ordering 
Synodical affairs, together with the reports 
of the conventions of 1847, 1848 and 1849, 
give us a faint idea of the enormous amount 
of labor which devolved upon him through 
his being President of the new Church body, 
now growing by leaps and bounds. At the 
second convention the Synod counted fifty 
ministers and five school teachers as mem- 
bers, among them men like Wyneken, of Bal- 
timore, Md. ; Brauer, of Addison, 111., and 
Brohm, of New York. At the third conven- 
tion sixteen congregations, thirteen ministers 
and three teachers were received. The Synod 
began to take on a cosmopolitan character. 
Unlike the Pennsylvania Ministerium, where 


Controbettfp tmtf) Buffalo 

the Wuertembergers predominated, or the 
New York Ministerium, where the Platt- 
deutsch made up the bulk of the congrega- 
tion, the Missouri Synod, from the first, had 
a representation of Lutherans from the vari- 
ous sections of the fatherland. Among its 
ministers the North German element consid- 
erably outnumbered the Saxons, and the Uni- 
versity of Goettingen was at least as well 
represented as Leipzig. As compared with 
other Synods, it contained a proportionately 
large number of splendidly educated men, 
well equipped to man its two college facul- 
ties and lead its aggressive missionary ope- 
rations. True, its congregations were, as a 
rule, quite small and almost invariably poor. 
The three strongest congregations were St. 
Louis, with 2945 souls; Baltimore, with 
1084, and Fort Wayne, with 1066. But it 
had set the stakes of its house in the strate- 
gic points of the Middle West, Chicago, St. 
Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, etc. ; it had its 
outposts in the East; it was looking toward 
Iowa and Oregon, lengthening its cords and 
stretching the curtains of its habitation al- 
most to the breaking point, enthusiastically 
following the lead of Walther, its teacher, 
organizer and missionary. Surely,. these peo- 
ple, with their President, had enough to oc- 


doctor Carl UMtfjer 

cupy them without seeking doctrinal contro- 
versies. Besides, as the first volumes of the 
Lutheraner show, they were under the con- 
stant necessity of defending the "form of 
sound words" committed to them and their 
newly organized congregations against what 
Doctor W. J. Mann calls "the delusions of 

But controversy came. Originally di- 
rected against Pastor Loeber and the other 
Saxon pastors, after the organization of the 
Synod and the election of Walther as Presi- 
dent, the attack was transferred to them, and 
a most bitter warfare waged for twenty-five 
years, or until a majority of the Buffalo 
Synod pastors, on March 2, 1867, joined the 
Missouri Synod. Hochstetter, who was the 
Diakonus of Pastor Grabau, the "Senior 
Ministerii" of the Buffalo Synod, in his 
"History of the Missouri Synod," a book of 
480 pages, devotes about 100 pages to a 
description of this controversy. He has not 
over-estimated its importance for the Church 
of this country. A glance at the doctrines 
stated, the principles enunciated, and the 
practices defended in the "Hirtenbrief" 
("Pastoral Letter"), issued by Pastor Gra- 
bau, in 1840, "To the Brethren and Mem- 
bers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 


tottf) Buffalo 

Buffalo, New York, Milwaukee, Eden and 
Little Hamburg, Albany, Portage, Canada," 
copies of which were sent to the Saxon pas- 
tors of Missouri for their examination and 
approval, does not merely show that these 
men (Loeber, Gruber, Keyl and Walther) 
were justified in protesting against "the as- 
sertion of hierarchical principles within the 
Lutheran Church." It shows that by thus 
protesting against "the assertion of these 
hierarchical principles," until they were for- 
ever silenced, they rendered the entire 
Church of America an immense service. Had 
the movement led by Grabau prevailed with 
any considerable number of Lutherans in this 
country, the representatives of the several 
Synodical bodies would not now be meeting in 
free conference "for the promotion of Chris- 
tian unity through doctrinal discussion based 
upon the inspired word of God and the 
Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran 
Church." If we were meeting at all, it would 
be for the discussion of holy orders, whether 
or not the succession of our bishops, pro- 
cured through Scandinavia was of equal 
validity with the Anglican, and if the ques- 
tion of intention affected ordination. We 
would be solemnly discussing the. ornaments 
rubric of the first Prayer Book of Edward, 


Pottor Carl 

and attaching more importance to eucharistic 
candles than to the doctrine of conversion. 
We would have an extreme high Church 
party, making salvation dependent upon out- 
ward membership in the visible Lutheran 
Church, as represented by its clergy, and in- 
sisting that the sacraments owe their validity 
and efficacy to ordination received from the 
Church thus constituted. We would not per- 
mit the local congregation and its pastors 
to deal with "open and profligate evil livers," 
but require them to submit all questions of 
discipline to the "Senior Ministerii," or 
bishop, as representing the Church, for ad- 
judication. We would be demanding simple, 
unquestioning obedience on the part of the 
laity to the Church, not only in things spir- 
itual, but in things temporal, so far as they 
are not opposed to the Word. Whether 
they are or not must again be decided by the 
clergy. In a word, we would have had an 
Oxford movement within the Lutheran 
Church flirting with Rome, after the style of 
Bishop Stephan, who, when the Romanists 
publicly dedicated a church in St. Louis, 
shortly after the arrival of the emigrant col- 
ony, required the Saxon pastors and candi- 
dates to attend and carefully observe the 
ceremonial performed by Bishop Rosati, in 


Controvert? totti) Buffalo 

order that they might know how to conduct 
themselves when it came to dedicating a 
church of their own. 

Since extremes always provoke opposite 
extremes, this assumption of high Church 
superiority could not have failed to give 
force and point to those Puritan tendencies 
which aimed at the establishment of an 
"American Lutheran Church," as opposed to 
a "Lutheran Church in America." The doc- 
trinal looseness which led to the publication 
of "The Definite Platform" would never 
have stopped with the enumeration of "five 
errors" in the Augsburg Confession. It 
would have rejected all confessions of faith, 
and finally made its appeal to the principle 
laid down by Zwingli, when he insisted that 
God does not require us to believe anything 
unreasonable. The lack of Lutheran self- 
consciousness, which made men put the 
mourners' bench in the place of the altar, 
substitute the revival system for catechetical 
instruction, "new measures" for time-hon- 
ored practices and usages, individualistic 
emotionalism for all forms of worship, 
would never have rested until it had rooted 
out stock and branch every confessional cere- 
mony of the Church, in order to conform, 
even in outward appearance, with the sur- 


Doctor Carl 

rounding denominations. Our splendid Com- 
mon Service would never have been prepared, 
much less adopted and used by any consider- 
able portion of those Church bodies to whom 
the credit for its production must be grate- 
fully awarded. What is worse, the forma- 
tive principle of the Reformation, "that 
God's word is the sole and absolute author- 
ity, and rule of faith, and of life," would 
have gone by the board. If, as Doctor 
Krauth so correctly and emphatically says, 
"No man, without accepting this principle, 
can be truly Evangelical, Protestant or Luth- 
eran," then, we must ask if this "assertion of 
hierarchical principles" had prevailed, what 
would have become of the Church in Amer- 
ica? Let Walther answer the question: 
"Meine Befuerchtung geht dahin, dass diese 
Preussen eine Sekte werden wollen" ("I 
fear that these Prussians aim to become a 
sect"). (Letters, Vol. I, p. 18.) Succeeding 
in that, would they not aim to make every 
other part of the Church a sect? And would 
that not mean that the Church in America, 
as a true Church visible, had ceased to be? 
No wonder Walther said in his prospectus 
of the Luther aner: "It is to prove that it" 
(the Lutheran Church) "is the true Church 
of Christ, not a sect." "It is to unite the di- 

Controbergp toitf) Buffalo 

vided members of the Lutheran Church, to 
recall those that are fallen away, and to 
prove that our Church has not and never can 
become extinct." He wrote the same thing 
into the constitution of the Missouri Synod, 
when, in Chap. I, 1T4, this was stated to be a 
ground for its organization: "The preser- 
vation and cultivation of the unity of the 
pure Confession (Eph. 4: 3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10), 
and the common warding off of separatistic 
and sectarian confusion (Rom. 16:17)." 
As he wrote to Sihler: "The most careful 
preservation of true catholicity and an avoid- 
ing of all separatism." 

This was the real issue. That we have 
not overstated it, appears from the official 
seal of the Buffalo Synod, \t#iich, in allusion 
to Revelation 12, showed a woman fleeing 
from a dragon into the wilderness. Accord- 
ing to Pastor Grabau's interpretation, 
America was the wilderness to which the 
Church had fled before the dragon of the 
"Prussian Union." Hochstetter's account 
of the "Buffalo Colloquium," held Novem- 
ber 20, 1866, shows how this narrow concep- 
tion influenced all the theological thinking of 
Grabau's adherents. Finally the public meet- 
ing, so long sought by Missouri, and pre- 
vented by the "Senior Ministerii" of Buffalo, 


Doctor Carl 

was arranged. Representatives of the two 
Synods met face to face and discussed the 
doctrine (1) of the Church, (2) of the min- 
isterial office, (3) of excommunication, (4) 
of the power of the ministerial office with 
respect to adiaphora, and (5) of ordina- 
tion. Full agreement was reached with 
eleven members of the Buffalo Synod, who, 
thereupon, joined the Missouri Synod. Gra- 
bauism, "the assertion of hierarchical prin- 
ciples within the Church of America," was 
dead. The principle of catholicity, so 
briefly and magnificently stated in Article 
VII, of the Augsburg Confession, was re- 
asserted, never again, let us hope, to be at- 
tacked by Romanizing tendencies within the 
Reformation Church. And, let us add, may 
the words Walther wrote to Brunn, in 1861, 
more and more become true: "Although I 
especially must suffer heavily through this 
conflict, I more and more see that this con- 
flict, too, instead of serving to hinder the 
kingdom of God, which always appears to be 
the case, must only serve to its advancement" 
(Letters, Vol. I, p. 161), "the advancement 
of true catholicity and the avoiding of all 
sectarian separatism." 


Chapter 20 

Hoefje mib tije Slotoa 

On the eve of the fourth convention of 
Synod, Walther wrote Lochner: "I look 
forward to our approaching Synodical pro- 
ceedings with trembling heart, still with firm 
confidence in God's help" (Vol. I, p. 72). 
In his opening address he explains his fears : 
"Our Synod ... is approaching the sever- 
est trial which the Church can ever experi- 
ence, a trial in comparison with which those 
of sanguinary persecution are to be ac- 
counted small; in short, it is this tempta- 
tion to false doctrine." He was not thinking 
of Grabau alone, for after describing Roman- 
izing tendencies in the Church of Germany 
and America, which heretofore had had lit- 
tle influence upon the Missouri Synod, he goes 
on to say: "Most recently, however, we 
have finally been drawn into serious conflict 
with the same from two sides." The one 
side was Grabau and Buff alo. The other side 
was Loehe and Iowa. 

If the break with the emigrant Prussians 
hurt, the break with Loehe hurt a hundred 
fold, for J. C. Wilhelm Loehe, Pfarrer at 


Doctor Carl 

Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, from the day when 
Wyneken, at his visit to Germany, in 1841- 
42, had turned his sympathetic interest to the 
dire needs of the Lutherans in America, was 
the most loyal and generous friend of the 
cause of confessional Lutheranism in this 
country. He not only sent over men to shep- 
herd the scattered children of the Reforma- 
tion Church, among them men with a univer- 
sity training like Sihler, Craemer and Schal- 
ler, but entire missionary congregations. At 
the Fort Wayne meeting, in 1846, prelimi- 
nary to the organization of the Missouri 
Synod, there were a dozen Loehe men pres- 
ent. Others were being sent over, so that 
the new Synodlein received a total of eighty- 
four pastors through Loehe's efforts. (See 
Neve, "A Brief History," etc.). Loehe es- 
tablished the so-called "Practical Seminary," 
or Missionary Institute, at Fort Wayne, most 
liberally supported it, and for the simple ask- 
ing, by formal deed, dated September 8, 
1847, presented the institution to the newly 
organized Synod, with several most accepta- 
ble conditions, the first of which read : "That 
it forever serve the Lutheran Church and 
train ministers and shepherds for it. As the 
Lutheran Church, we recognize only that 
which adheres to all the Confessions of the 


Hoefje anb tfje Slotoa 

Lutheran Book of Concord." There is no 
qualification in these words. Moreover, 
Loehe most generously promised his con- 
tinued support to this institution, which, on 
August 29, 1850, dedicated a building 
erected with his help, and named "The 
Wolter House," after the splendid young 
teacher whom Loehe had sent over in 1846, 
and who died, only thirty-one years old, of 
the cholera, August 31, 1849. And now, 
after all of that, at the opening of the fourth 
convention of Synod, on October 3, 1850, 
barely one month after the dedication of the 
"Wolter House," Walther feels himself con- 
strained to point out to the assembled pastors 
and delegates the threatening danger of a 
temptation to false doctrine approaching 
from two sides. The one side was repre- 
sented by Grabau, the other by Loehe, Syn- 
od's greatest material benefactor. That hurt 

But what did Walther mean ? How could 
the man who on September 8, 1847, wrote, 
"As the Lutheran Church we recognize only 
that which adheres to all the Confessions of 
the Lutheran Book of Concord," even be re- 
motely suspected of false teaching? The 
answer may be given by the word "Ofene 
Frag en" (open questions), used to designate 


Doctor Carl UMtfjer 

Loehe's attitude toward the Confessions, an 
attitude determined by his position on cer- 
tain other doctrines, as well as his ambitious 
plans for Lutheran Church union. For 
Pfarrer Loehe aimed not merely to gather 
the Lutherans of America, but the Lutherans 
of Australia, and of the whole world into one 
general Church body. It was, therefore, but 
natural that he should desire to have some 
voice in the direction of Church affairs in 
America, although he could not possibly have 
any real knowledge of American conditions. 
The constitution of seventy-two paragraphs 
prepared for the Franconian congregations 
of Michigan, defining with infinite detail 
everything, even to the provision of christ- 
lische Hebammen (Christian midwives), am- 
ply proves that. Consequently, while in 
the main satisfied with the doings of the 
brethren in the new world, Loehe could not 
but consider what he called "the strong inter- 
mixing of democratic, independentistic and 
congregational principles in their constitu- 
tion as doubtful and deplorable." Like 
Grabau and Stephan before him, Loehe 
wanted ein festes Kirchenregiment (a firm 
Church government). While not quite 
ready to agree with Grabau, he was still less 
ready to agree with the Missourians and 

Hoefie anb tfje Jiotos 

their teachings, as set forth in Walther's 
"Kirche und Amt." The assertion of the 
dignities and rights of all true believers 
whom God hath made "to be kings and priests 
forever" (Rev. 1:6; 1 Peter 2:9), used 
with such telling force by Luther against the 
pretensions of the Roman hierarchy, and 
written by Walther into the constitution of 
the Missouri Synod, was in Loehe's eyes 
Americkanische Poebelherrschaft (Ameri- 
can mob rule). 

Moreover, Loehe also publicly taught and 
defended certain views with respect to the 
doctrine of the last things, much in vogue 
among the German Pietists of the day, e.g., 
the establishment of a millennial kingdom at 
Christ's second coming, with a general con- 
version of all Israel after the appearance of 
a personal Antichrist, etc., views which 
Walther and the Missourians held to have 
been rejected and condemned by Article 
XVII of the Augsburg Confession. A great 
stickler for liturgical forms, he went so far 
as to employ a kind of extreme unction for 
the sick, besides displaying an extreme fond- 
ness for the institutional and conventual life 
of the Church of Rome. 

Pfarrer Loehe was undoutedly a far big- 
ger and broader man than "Senior Min- 


Doctor Carl 

isterii Grabau, not to speak of "Bishop" 
Stephan. Still, it is peculiar that the three 
men had something in common. They wanted 
a "firm Church government." They had a 
profound mistrust of the laity. They had a 
fondness for colonization schemes. By the 
way, Walther's most intimate friend, Pick, 
with other men, also had a scheme of this 
kind. Walther writes him : "Are you trying 
to found a Lutheran republic? . . . The 
Church is to be a salt of the earth; one does 
not dump that into some corner, but into the 
midst of the mass" (Vol. I, p. 99). Loehe, 
Grabau and Stephan had an immense enthu- 
siasm for correct liturgical form. In the 
judgment of Deindoerfer, who wrote a his- 
tory of the Lutheran Church in America, 
this insistence upon form was often a hin- 
drance to the growth of the Iowa Synod, or- 
ganized by Loehe in 1854. But the most 
dangerous was their attitude toward the 
Confessions. Grabau attached as much, if 
not more, importance and weight to the Pom- 
meranian Kirchenordnung as to the Book 
of Concord. Stephan, who urged the read- 
ing of Luther and the Book of Concord 
whenever his pet ideas were contradicted by 
these undisputable authorities, was wont to 
tell his adherents : "This must be differently 

aito tfje 3Iotoa 

understood, for Luther in other places ex- 
presses himself more clearly"; or, "This is 
not suited to our times," etc. Loehe, who re- 
fused to be bound by the entire doctrinal con- 
tent of the Confessions, spoke of the neces- 
sity of striving for further doctrinal develop- 
ment, tried to distinguish between those parts 
of the Confessions which are and are not 
of binding force, etc. In each of the three 
cases, there was a qualified acceptance of the 
Confessions. Of the three, Grabau's posi- 
tion was entitled to the most consideration, 
for the Confessors of the Church had also 
written its Kirchenordnungen, even though 
they had never intended that they should 
have the force of or be used to interpret the 
Confessions. Walther, therefore, writes to 
Otteson: "The Buffalo men, like ourselves, 
would be strictly Lutheran; the Iowa men, 
however, wish us to concede that unity and 
purity of doctrine is unnecessary, and a de- 
manding of it fanaticism" (Vol. II, p. 110). 
Remembering that the issue was primarily 
the doctrine of the Church and the ministe- 
rial office, it is at once plain that the attitude 
of these men toward the Confessions was de- 
termined by aims they cherished and theories 
they held for its organization arid advance- 
ment. They did not approach the Confes- 


doctor Carl tlMtijer 

sions with an open mind. They approached 
them with preconceived notions, seeking en^ 
dorsement of previously formed theories. 
Walther writes Fuerbringer in 1867, after 
the Colloquium with Iowa : "The Fritschels 
. . . seem to have rummaged through 
Luther and the fathers (die Alten) in gen- 
eral only with the aim of finding vouchers 
for their doctrine of 'Open Questions' " (Vol. 
II, p. 119). Using detached quotations from 
Luther and the Confessions as wax to graft 
your own theories on the great body of Luth- 
eran doctrine is bad business. 

In God's wise providence events were so 
shaped that Walther, when he approached 
Luther and the Confessions, seeking light on 
these questions, had no theories of his own. 
Whatever theories he may have had were 
swept away by Stephan's dreadful fall. In 
the indescribable confusion and distress which 
followed, Walther, ill in body and soul, 
humbly sought an answer to the questions: 
"Are we a Church?" "Am I a Christian 
minister?" "Have I the right, by Christ's 
command and authority, to preach the gos- 
pel and administer the sacraments?" To 
answer these questions he dug down to bed- 
rock, the Scriptures, Luther and the Con- 
fessions. He formulated his answer in the 


JLotty anfc tfje Jotoa 

Altenburg Theses, his book on "The Voice 
of Our Church on the Question of Church 
and Office," and his other book, on "The 
Correct Form of a Local Evangelical Luth- 
eran Congregation Independent of the 
State." Of this work he writes to Sihler: 
"The paper is really the practical amplifica- 
tion of the principles laid down in the book 
on 'The Church and the Office' (Vol. I, p. 
187) . It showed that just the Lutheran doc- 
trine of the Church and the Office forms the 
firmest foundation upon which a particular 
Church (eine Partikularkirche} may build 
itself in correct form," and "that our old 
faithful teachers, although they lived in a 
state Church, under consistorial organiza- 
tion, on the basis of their doctrine of Church, 
Office, Church government, etc., did not con- 
ceive of the form of a local congregation in- 
dependent of the state, otherwise than it is 
here found represented." He had Trinity 
congregation and its organization, together 
with the organization of the Misouri Synod 
in mind. Stephan, Grabau and Loehe said : "It 
is expedient to organize so and so. We may 
do this, for Luther, the Confessions and the 
Kirchenordnungen say so and so." Walther 
says: "The Scriptures, the Confessions, 
Luther and our faithful old teachers say so 


doctor Carl 

and so. We must organize accordingly." 
There was a difference. And this difference 
expressed itself in their attitude toward the 
Confessions, which brings us back to Loehe 
and his "Open Questions." 

That there should be any doctrinal differ- 
ence between them, and especially a doctrinal 
difference which might mean a disruption of 
the relations which had hitherto existed be- 
tween the Synod and its benefactor, filled 
Walther with alarm. He was no longer 
President of Synod, for when he became 
Professor and President of the Altenburg 
College, which was removed to St. Louis in 
1849, Pastor Wyneken, of Baltimore, was 
called as vicar of Trinity congregation, and 
elected President of Synod at the fourth con- 
vention in the fall of 1850. This convention 
again, like the previous conventions, cordially 
and urgently invited Pfarrer Loehe to visit 
America and attend the convention of 1851. 
When he found it impossible to accept the 
invitation, Synod, at this convention, acting 
upon a suggestion presented by the St. Louis 
District Conference, the St. Louis congrega- 
tion, President Wyneken, Doctor Sihler and 
others, resolved to send Walther and Wyne- 
ken to Neuendettelsau for a conference with 
Pfarrer Loehe. Every possible effort was 


Uoefie anb tfje Slotoa 

to be made to remove existing differences and 
avoid a possible rupture. Incidentally it was 
hoped that a personal acquaintance on the 
part of these two men with some of the lead- 
ers of the Church in Germany might prove 
to be of benefit both to America and the 

An account of this journey and its imme- 
diate results, written by Walther, was pub- 
lished in the Lutheraner, Vol. 8, Nos. 13-21. 
A long letter to his wife, dated Erlangen, 
October 11, 1851, supplies further note- 
worthy details. His meeting with Doctor 
Marbach, who had been his opponent at the 
Altenburg Debate, must have been most in- 
teresting. Walther and Wyneken visited 
Doctor Guericke in Halle, Doctor Kahnis 
in Leipzig, and Doctor Harless in Dresden. 
In Erlangen Walther met the friend of his 
youth, Doctor Franz Delitzsch, who intro- 
duced him to other members of the faculty, 
the Professors Hofmann, Thomasius, Hoef- 
ling and Schmid. The two delegates attended 
various conferences and meetings. They 
were everywhere most cordially received. 
Walther also visited Langenschursdorf, his 
home, and Braunsdorf, the place of his first 
brief pastorate. 

At Neuendettelsau they were welcomed 


Poctor Carl 

most heartily by Loehe, who dedicated a 
special number, beautifully gotten up, of his 
paper, Kirchliche Mitteilungen, to his two 
visitors. It almost seemed that a perfect un- 
derstanding had been reached. After this 
first conference Loehe met the two delegates 
twice in Nurnburg, and they called on him 
twice at Neuendettelsau. After making sev- 
eral visits in Northern Germany, they re- 
turned home, reaching St. Louis February 2, 
1852. Sihler, whose judgment in these mat- 
ters was apt to be correct, writes in his auto- 
biography : "Unfortunately, they had not at- 
tained the main object of their journey. 
Pfarrer Loehe, it is true, was unable to op- 
pose anything valid to the convincing argu- 
ments of Professor Walther, still he clung to 
his vague assertions that the Confessions of 
our Church had no such binding force as we 
held them to have." Walther tells his wife 
why: "One finds one thing almost every- 
where with all this cry of Lutheran Church; 
namely, one is not minded to seat one's self 
with childlike simplicity at the feet of our 
old teachers, and before one attempts to seek 
everything out of the Scriptures, to first hear 
these teachers who have spoken unto us the 
word of God following their faith and con- 
sidering the end of their conversation" (Heb. 


ILoefje anb tfce Slotoa 

13 : 7) (Vol. I, p. 78). Indeed, these Ger- 
man theologians made the criticism against 
Walther and other Missouri writers that 
they had produced nothing new. Their great 
word was Fortentwicklung (progressive de- 
velopment). In the above quoted letter 
Walther writes: "Now, after I have seen 
much in Germany which encourages me to 
praise God, I must, nevertheless, say, God 
has still done the greatest unto us in Amer- 
ica" (p. 81). If that is true, it is because 
God through Walther taught us "to seat our- 
selves with childlike simplicity at the feet of 
our old teachers." 

The break with Loehe came in 1852. 
Loehe had planned the establishment of "a 
kind of Protestant convent" in the Saginaw 
Valley. It was to be a hospice, a sanato- 
rium, a seminary for pastors and teachers, 
a missionary outpost for Michigan, and the 
center of a strong Lutheran colony. He had 
selected a young man, trained and educated 
under his influence, to become rector of this 
Pilgerhaus. This young man, whom he 
called his "Timothy," had studied theology at 
Erlangen, and came to America in 1848. 
He was present at the Synod of 1850, where 
he for several days defended Loehe's posi- 
tion in debate with Walther, and finally, 


Doctor Carl 

with open, manly frankness, admitted him- 
self to have been overcome by the truth. The 
young man was Gottlieb Schaller, after- 
wards, with Walther, pastor in St. Louis and 
professor at Concordia Seminary. 

When Schaller, placing his love of the 
truth above the demands of sincere and 
grateful friendship, declined to become the 
rector of Loehe's Pilgerhaus, Pastor Gross- 
mann was sent over to lead the undertaking, 
with instructions that it should "remain -for 
the first in Church fellowship, but not in mem- 
bership connection with the Synod of Mis- 
souri." This was most unfortunate, for the 
Saginaw Valley pastors and congregations 
were among its most active members. Al- 
though Loehe had offered no objection to 
"Seminary Inspector" Grossmann's seeking 
membership in the Missouri Synod, he felt 
it his duty "to withdraw himself from the 
influences of the Synodical spirit." Very 
naturally the Saginaw Valley congregations, 
acting through the Synod and Wyneken, its 
President, requested Loehe to either place 
the new institution under control of the 
Synod, or abandon the undertaking. Pastor 
Loehe did neither. His adherents, twenty- 
two in number, under the leadership of 
"Seminary Inspector" Grossmann and Pastor 


Hoefte anb tfje Slotoa 

Deindorfer, journeyed to Iowa, where they 
founded the colony "St. Sebald at the 
Spring," sixty miles north of Dubuque. That 
was in 1853. In 1854 two other men came 
over, sent by Loehe. These two, with Gross- 
mann and Deindorfer, met at St. Sebald, on 
August 24, 1854, and organized the Iowa 
Synod. One of the men was Sigmund Frit- 
schel. His brother, Gottlieb Fritschel, came 
over in 1857. These two brothers are the 
real founders and leaders of this Synod, 
which, according to Loehe's plan, was doc- 
trinally to occupy a middle ground between 
Buffalo and Missouri. This "middle ground" 
idea, by the way, is a somewhat vague and 
pleasant fiction. Doctor Mann, in his "Luth- 
erans in America," also divides the Church 
into "the Left Wing," "the Right Wing," 
and "the Center." People who make that 
division somehow forget that the location of 
the center always depends upon where you 
happen to stand. Thus Walther and the 
Missourians might claim to occupy the con- 
servative confessional center or middle 
ground between Buffalo and Iowa. In plain 
words, this "middle ground" or "center" talk 
usually means very little. 

Loehe did not intend to establish an oppo- 
sition Synod against Missouri, occupying the 


Doctor Carl UMtfjer 

same territory and setting up altar against 
altar. With his ignorance of American con- 
ditions, he doubtless imagined that the two 
Church bodies could work side by side in 
separate geographically divided territories. 
The result, however, was bitter opposition 
and controversy. An attempt to allay this 
was made by the holding of a Colloquium 
between representatives of the two Synods 
at Milwaukee, in 1867. Unfortunately, the 
desired result, unity of faith, was not at- 

The statement has been made by Doctor 
Neve, in his "Brief History," etc., that "The 
Iowa Synod does not as a Synod represent 
the views of Loehe, but rather his convic- 
tion that, since there was agreement in the 
confessional doctrine, the points in dispute 
were not of sufficient magnitude to justify a 
rupture in the Church." To which Walther 
made this reply: "If we permit in the midst 
of the Lutheran Church the departure from 
any one point of the Confessions, we tear 
down the Lutheran Church itself, and show 
ourselves as traitors who have taken position 
within her walls to raze her fortifications 
under pretence of repairing them and open 
wide to the enemy the entrance over their 
ruins" (Ltttheraner, Vol. XI, p. 203), 

Hoefte an& tfje 

Walther always spoke of Loehe with re- 
spect and esteem. Thus, in a letter to Fick, 
he writes: "It is my opinion that Loehe's 
frankness is just as honorable, as it renders 
his error harmless for all those who wish 
to see; while the sanctimonious hypocrisy of 
the Grabauites is just as contemptible as it 
serves to seduction" (Vol. I, p. 95). Still, 
this controversy brought Walther no little 
calumny and reproach. Here were people 
holding out the hand of fellowship like 
Zwingli at Marburg, saying, "Our differ- 
ences are immaterial." Here is Walther re- 
fusing them the recognition they sought. 
Whereupon Iowa declared at Milwaukee, 
"The Missourians are committing a sin of 
frightful bearing which they can never an- 
swer for." Was this true? Let Walther re- 
ply: "Wherever doctrinal controversy arose, 
there was never peace, unless the erring party 
came over to the truth, or that new parties 
formed, or that the advocates of the truth 
sacrificed this most precious of all goods" 
(Vol. I, p. 96). "We therefore need men 
who in trial have experienced the excellence 
(H errlichkeit) of the word; yea, of every 
word, who know that in each eternal life 
is enclosed, and that, therefore, with each 
eternal life may also be lost; each must be 


Doctor Carl 

defended to the last" ("bis aufs Blut"). 
Plainly, Walther had read Isaiah 66:2: 
"To this man will I look, even to him that is 
poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth 
at my word." Having read that, he had no 
choice but to stand firm, and, like Luther, 
simply say, "It is written." That he, too, 
rendered the Church an immense service by 
so doing is at least indicated by the Inter- 
synodical Conference held at St. Paul, Minn., 
May 3 and 4, 1916, at which Conference de- 
bated points of doctrine were discussed and 
stated in a form acceptable to 555 pastors, 
representing the Missouri, Wisconsin, Min- 
nesota, Iowa and other Synods. 


Chapter 2 1 

Crue Peace 

In his great tract, "If a Soldier May be in 
a State of Grace?" Martin Luther makes the 
point that "the civil power is not established 
of God to break peace and begin war, but to 
preserve peace and prevent war." He then 
goes on and uses the text, "Scatter Thou the 
people that delight in war" (Ps. 68:30), 
with telling force, to show that there is a 
mighty difference between "will and must, 
desire and necessity," arguing that God al- 
ways defeats and scatters the people who 
begin strife without just cause. This truth 
is capable of an application to the Church/ 
While Walther's entire life was filled with 
controversy, it may be truthfully said that he 
never sought or provoked a religious conflict. 
His invariable rule of conduct was : "Let us 
therefore follow after the things which 
make" (not for strife, but) "for peace" 
(Rom. 14:19). 

The Lutheran Church, as "the Church of 
theologians," has doubtless also produced 
its share of what the Germans Call Streit- 
theologen (strife-theologians). Walther 


Doctor Carl D&aitfter 

was not one of them. Guenther truthfully 
calls him "ein rechter Friedenstheolog" ("a 
true peace theologian"). While he well 
knew that the Church on earth can never be 
anything but a Church militant, and that a 
complete cessation of all spiritual warfare 
means a denial of her character as a true 
Church, he also knew that the great end of 
all its struggles and controversies must ever 
be the establishment and preservation of 
peace. This appears not only from his let- 
ters, the prospectus for the Lutheraner, the 
constitution of the Missouri Synod, but also 
from Lehre und Wehre (Doctrine and De- 
fence), a theological journal issued at his 
suggestion and under his editorship, in 1855. 
Like the Lutheraner, this, too, was at first 
called W dither's Lehre und Wehre. 

The need of such a Predigerzeitung (min- 
isters' paper) had engaged his attention for 
some time. The Lutheraner had admira- 
ably served its first purpose, and gath- 
ered the men who founded the Synod into 
visible unity of faith. It had gained a large 
and increasing number of readers among the 
members of the congregations. This neces- 
sitated its being edited rather as a layman's 
church paper. On the other hand, the at- 
tacks and criticisms of the opponents of the 

" a Crue Peace Cftcotogtan " 

new Church body in unfriendly theological 
publications, coupled with the difficulty of 
securing an opportunity to reply for the cor- 
rection of errors and misstatements, com- 
pelled Walther and the Synod to seek some 
medium for its self-defence and the strength- 
ening of its ministerium through a thorough 
discussion of the great questions agitating 
the Church. But the new journal did not 
stop there. Indeed, it went a step beyond 
the Luther aner. While the Lutheraner made 
its appeal to individuals and aimed "to unite 
the divided members of the Lutheran 
Church," JValther's Lehre und Wehre made 
its appeal to other Lutheran Church bodies, 
and aimed to unite them. This especially ap- 
pears from the foreword to its second vol- 
ume, written by him in 1856, only nine years 
after the founding of the Synod. Briefly re- 
viewing the state of the Church in America, 
the article ends with a call for the holding 
of free conferences for the promotion of per- 
fect unity and peaceful co-operation on the 
part of all who unqualifiedly accept the Augs- 
burg Confession as their confession of faith. 
This call was suggested and invited by the 
publication in 1855 of the "Definite Synod- 
ical Platform," a revision of the Augsburg 
Confession in the interest of "American 


Doctor Carl 

Lutheranism," as presented by the Doc- 
tors Schmucker, Sprecher and Kurtz, of 
the General Synod. The efforts of these 
men to develop a form of Lutheran- 
ism adapted to an American environment, 
are usually described as an attempt 
to modify Lutheranism by the Puritan 
element. As Doctor Mann pointed out in 
1857, this statement is not entirely correct, 
for "the doctrinal system of Puritanism is 
Calvinistic, while the doctrinal system of this 
"American Lutheranism" was distinctly 
Zwinglian. "Puritanic-Methodistic English 
Protestantism," he says, exerted its influence 
"more particularly upon the spirit of piety, 
upon Christian life, its morality and forms 
of worship." (See "Lutheranism in Amer- 
ica," p. 21ff.) With the publication of the 
"Definite Platform," the District Synods 
composing the General Synod were called 
upon to signify their adoption of it as their 
confession of faith. Doctor Walther points 
out that but three of them succumbed to this 
temptation to repudiate the Magna Charta 
of our Church, namely, the. Wittenberg 
Synod, the Olive Branch Synod and the 
English Synod of Ohio. Almost all other 
Synods, which had opportunity to discuss 
the matter, repudiated the new doc- 

Crue Peace 

trinal basis "with hardly to be expected 
unanimity." This fact fills Walther and all 
who love the Lutheran Zion of this country 
with great joy and hope for the future. It 
contains, he says, a pressing summons to us to 
foster the unity which God by His grace has 
already brought forth. He then points to 
the free conferences and Church days (Kirch- 
entage] held by the brethren in Germany, 
and closes his foreword with a call for the 
arrangement of similar meetings in this 
country to be attended by all who accept the 
Unaltered Augsburg Confession of 1530, in 
order "to attempt the final realization of one 
united Evangelical Lutheran Church of 
North America." He promises for himself, 
his fellow-theologians and laymen, to attend 
such a free conference whenever and wher- 
ever it may be held. While such gatherings 
and conferences can have only a private 
character, and the persons attending can take 
part, not as representing their respective 
Synods, but only in a personal capacity, 
he feels certain "that a personal ver- 
bal intercourse and exchange cannot fail 
to be salutary, and would assuredly, above 
all, bring forth this incomparable bless- 
ing that the conflict which is still indeed 
necessary in our Church would take on and 


Doctor Carl 

keep the character of a mutual emulation 
among brethren for the faithful preservation 
of the precious treasure of doctrinal purity 
and unity" (Lehre und Wehre, Vol. II, pp. 
1-5) . Surely no further evidence is required 
to prove that Guenther's estimate of Walther 
is correct. Only "ein rechter Frtedenstke- 
olog" could write in this fashion. 

It is impossible to discuss the "Definite 
Platform" without saying this : Its rejection 
by the General Synod plainly proves that it 
would be most wrong to hold that Church 
body responsible for its publication. This 
attempt to substitute what was practically a 
new creed for the standard to which all Luth- 
erans have ever rallied and clung was the act 
of a few men, prominent and influential, it is 
true, but who thereby sacrificed their previ- 
ous prominence and influence. Walther cor- 
rectly gauged the situation when he said that 
its almost unanimous repudiation was a cause 
for rejoicing and a ground of hope for all 
who love our Lutheran Zion in America. 

As we look back, now that sixty years have 
elapsed, we can see that great good came out 
of this open attempt to Zwinglianize and 
Puritanize the Church. The attempt, it is 
said, had to be made. When we consider the 
weakness of men and the strength of tempta- 

" H ^rue Peace ^fieologtan " 

tion, this is, perhaps, true. It was later made 
in a petty way by some of the young men 
who established the first purely English con- 
gregations of the Missouri Synod. They, 
too, promised themselves a larger measure 
of success if they made a futile attempt to 
keep and defend Lutheran doctrine while 
conforming in all outward things to the 
usages of their Arminian and Puritan neigh- 
bors. Being made, it was bound to fail. Its 
failure was recognized by its own advocates. 
Thus Doctor Samuel Sprecher is reported to 
have said : "I once thought that a Lutheran- 
ism modified by the Puritan element was de- 
sirable ; but I have given up its desirableness, 
and am convinced of its hopelessness" 
(Neve, p. 83). 

Its failure gave impetus to the cause of 
confessional Lutheranism, not only within 
the General Synod, out of which the General 
Council was organized in 1866, but it also 
indirectly led to the organization of the Syn- 
odical Conference in 1872 results which the 
framers of the "Definite Synodical Platform" 
neither designed nor desired. 

Walther's call for the holding of free con- 
ferences met with immediate response. The 
first was held at Columbus, Ohio, October 1, 
1856. It was attended by fifty-four ministers 


Doctor Carl 

and nineteen laymen, members of four differ- 
ent Synods Missouri, the Joint Synod of 
Ohio, and the New York and Pennsylvania 
Ministeriums. Walther's motion, urging a 
consideration of the Augsburg Confession, 
article by article, prevailed, and Articles 1-7 
were discussed and accepted at this first gath- 
ering. Three other such free conferences 
were held during the ensuing years. One at 
Pittsburgh, October 29 to November 4, 1857 ; 
at Cleveland, August 5-11, 1858; at Fort 
Wayne, July 14-20, 1859. The discussion of 
theAugustana was continued, and the Articles 
7-14, and Article 28, accepted. Of course 
this left Article 1 7, with its condemnation of 
Chiliasm, and Article 18, "of Free Will," 
Article 20, "of Faith and Good Works," with 
their bearing on the doctrine of conversion 
untouched. The former was to keep the 
Iowa Synod from joining the Synodical Con- 
ference; the other was to take the Joint 
Synod of Ohio out of it after it had joined. 

Walther was present at all of these gather- 
ings but the last, when a severe throat trou- 
ble prevented his attendance. He, of course, 
took most active part in all of the proceed- 
ings. His services toward this attempt to 
promote the great cause of Christian unity 
through the organization of a united Luth- 


<Crue Peace Cfjeotogtan 


eran Church in America, were recognized by 
the adoption of a resolution by the Fort 
Wayne conference expressing regret that 
"Professor Walther, who gave the first im- 
pulse to these conferences, and through 
whom God the Lord has made so many a 
blessing to come unto them, should this time 
have been prevented from taking part in the 
proceedings ; with the wish that it may please 
God to soon restore this noble instrument 
(edle Werkzeug}, and for long preserve it 
unto His Church." 

Walther' s health became worse and 
worse, causing the gravest apprehensions 
to his intimate associates, to the St. Louis 
faculty and congregation, and to the en- 
tire Synod. Finally, Pastor Wyneken, the 
President of Synod, who since 1858 resided 
at Fort Wayne, and Professor Craemer, 
of the Practical Seminary, which was still 
located at that place, traveled to St. Louis 
to persuade Walther to undertake a trip 
to Germany seeking restoration of his 
health. The St. Louis congregation took im- 
mediate action, most willingly offered to de- 
fray all expenses connected with the journey, 
and sent its Board of Elders, with the college 
faculty, to its beloved Oberpfarrer, beseech- 
ing him to give up all work and follow the 


doctor Carl tteaitfcer 

advice of his physicians, who recommended 
a sea voyage and the use of some mineral 
bath. A peculiar fear made him hesitate, 
namely, the fear that his acceptance of the 
generous offer of the congregation might 
give some cause for offence. He mentions 
this in an affecting farewell letter published 
in the Lutheraner, after he had decided to 
make the trip. He speaks of it again in a 
letter to his wife written from Germany, and 
dated July 14, 1860. He says: "But one 
thing now often troubles me, namely, that I 
am wandering around the world as a most 
useless person, and have wasted and am still 
wasting so much money. By God's grace I 
have managed to keep the reputation in St. 
Louis that I am not serving my brethren for 
the body's sake ; now the thought plagues me 
that I have sacrificed this my good fame." 
Could conscientiousness go further than this ? 
He left St. Louis February 6, 1860, ac- 
companied by his son Constantin, and his 
nephew, Stephanus Keyl, traveling via New 
Orleans and returning via New York, 
August 20, "healed of his bodily infirmity," 
to reach St. Louis August 28. At the Octo- 
ber meeting of Synod President Wyneken re- 
ported: "Our dear and precious teacher, 
Professor Walther, is, thanks be to God, 


^rtte Peace 

again in our midst, restored and strengthened 
by his trip and return from Germany. May 
God keep him a blessing to us for long to 


There is a full report of his journey, the 
men of prominence he met, his impressions 
of Church conditions, etc., in Lehre und 
Wehre, Vol. VI, p. 193, and in the Luther- 
aner, Vol. XVII. His letters to his wife, 
written for the intimacy of his family circle 
and chosen friends, give us additional and in- 
teresting details (Vol. I, pp. 138-159). 
Among his more important visits were the 
visit to Pastor Harms in Hermannsburg, and 
Pastor Brunn, in Steeden, with whom he ar- 
ranged for the sending over of "helpers in 
need" to the "Practical Seminary," after 
they had received some previous training in 
the schools founded by these friends of the 
Church in America. Doctor Marbach, his 
opponent at the Altenburg Debate, died 
while Walther was in Germany. He at- 
tended the funeral services at Leipzig, on 
June 9, 1860, and printed the funeral ser- 
mon of Pastor Ahlfeldt, of St. Thomas' 
Church in the Luther aner (Vol. XVII, No. 
2) . The short notes of his diary, which were 
amplified in his editorial correspondence for 
Lehre und Wehre (Vol. VI), show that the 


Doctor Carl 

thoughts which especially occupied his mind 
at this period were the questions being dis- 
cussed by the free conferences he had in- 
augurated the great question of Lutheran 
unity. Here are a few of his notes : 

"An admonition to our Synod to keep the 
unity in which it stands." 

"This unity makes us strong despite our 

"Not a unity of stagnation, but of living 

"Unity not only among ourselves, but also 
with the faithful Church of all times." 

It is the thought expressed in his Fore- 
word to Vol. II of Lehre und Wehre, "Die 
endliche Darstellung einer einlgen evangel- 
is ch-lutherischen Kirche von Nordamerika" 
("The final realization of one united Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Church of North Amer- 
ica") He carried it with him everywhere. 
His illness and absence, doubtless, contrib- 
uted to a temporary discontinuance of these 
free conferences. A more potent factor was 
the lack of real interest on the part of the 
Church at large. The leaven of confessional 
Lutheranism had not yet sufficiently perme- 
ated the whole lump. Other and more 
urgent problems were pressing for solution. 
The Eastern Synods had troubles of their 


21 Crue Peace 

own and little real appreciation of the im- 
portance and needs of the West. The whole 
Church, with the exception of the Missouri 
Synod, was in a state of flux. The rule of 
action in many cases was expediency rather 
than conviction or principle. Difference of 
language wielded a far greater influence than 
it does to-day. Difficulty of communication, 
the approaching civil war, intense political 
agitation all these things combined to 
render abortive Walther's efforts in the di- 
rection of unity and union. The withdrawal 
from the General Synod of the Pennsylvania 
Ministerium and the New York Ministe- 
rium, the organizing of the General Coun- 
cil, the joining of this body by the Wisconsin 
Synod, the Minnesota Synod, the Michigan 
Synod, only to withdraw again; the refusal 
of the Ohio Synod to join the new body, the 
zuwartende Stellung (expectant attitude) of 
the Iowa Synod, the unending discussion of 
the "Galesburg Rule" and the "Four Points," 
the organization and upbuilding of the 
Scandinavian Synods, the inevitable friction 
caused by clashing missionary and educa- 
tional interests all of these movements, ac- 
tivities, debates, approachments, and with- 
drawals, showed that the leaven .was indeed 
at work, but that the time had not yet come 


Doctor Carl lattljer 

for the results of this work to appear. The 
dough was being kneaded, but the time for 
baking was not at hand. 

Still there was an approachment on the 
part of the several Synods, which, under 
Walther's leadership, organized the Evan- 
gelical Lutheran Synodical Conference at 
Milwaukee, July 10-16, 1872, shortly after 
the Missouri Synod had celebrated the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of its organization. 
Preliminary meetings had been held with the 
Ohio Synod (Columbus, March 4-6, 1867), 
with the Wisconsin Synod (Milwaukee, Oc- 
tober, 21, 22, 1868) ; with both these Syn- 
ods, the Synod of Illinois, the Minnesota 
Synod, and the Synoden for den Norske Ev. 
Luth. Kirke in Amerika (Chicago, January 
11-13, 1871, and Fort Wayne, November 
14-16, 1871). The constitution prepared at 
these preliminary meetings was adopted and 
Walther elected President of this new Church 
federation, which stated its purpose to be : 

"The outward expression of the spiritual 
unity of the respective Synods; mutual 
strengthening in faith and confession; ad- 
vancement of unity in faith and practice, and 
removal of occurring threatening interruption 
of the same; united activity for common 
causes; efforts toward a bounding of Synods 


"jgj Crue Peace ^freotogian" 

according to territorial boundaries, provided 
that language does not separate ; the union of 
all Lutheran Synods of America into one 
faithful American Lutheran Church." 

As we study the constitution of the Synod- 
ical Conference, together with the first re- 
ports of its proceedings, a number of inter- 
esting things appear : 

1. Of course, the constitution of the Syn- 
odical Conference, like all efforts at organi- 
zation led by Walther, is but an affirmation 
and application of the Augsburg theses as 
developed in Kirche und Amt and Die 
Rechte Gestalt. A supreme emphasis is laid 
upon the Confession of Faith, which is God's 
word, and the Book of Concord of 1580. 
The Norwegian Synod, which put the ques- 
tion if it might become a constituent part of 
the Synodical Conference, if it as a separate 
body (Einzelsynode) confessed adherence 
only to the unaltered Augsburg Confession 
and the Smaller Catechism of Doctor Mar- 
tin Luther, was informed that "the Scandina- 
vian Lutherans had always been recognized 
as a faithful Church, although all symbolical 
books had not obtained ecclesiastical and 
legal (kirchenrechtlich) recognition with 
them; nevertheless the Synodical Conference 
self-evidently required that the venerable 


Doctor Carl U&rttfjer 

Norwegian Synod, insomuch as it was a part 
of the Synodical Conference, should with it 
confess to all the symbolical books of the 
Evangelical Lutheran Church, and in connec- 
tion with any doctrinal controversy which 
might occur, govern itself and suffer itself to 
be judged according to them." Plainly, there 
was to be no union at the expense of doctrinal 
truth or explicit confessional statement. 

2. While the constitution of the Missouri 
Synod places a great emphasis upon Chris- 
tian missions, it makes no provision for 
Christian benevolence. The constitution of 
the Synodical Conference in paragraph 5, 
"Objects of Activity," speaks of die Kranken- 
und Waisenhaus-sache (the hospital and 
orphanage cause). It thus represents an ad- 
vance upon the constitution of the Missouri 
Synod, and a distinct recognition of the im- 
portance and value of united benevolence as 
a manifestation of the unity of faith. 

3. Provision was made by a by-law at the 
fifth convention that every constituent body 
was to submit a copy of its printed report 
containing a summary of its doctrinal discus- 
sions for examination as to their orthodoxy, 
to committees appointed by the President of 
the Synodical Conference, to which they 
made a report in writing. (Lehrwacht doc- 

Crtte Peace Cfjeologian 


trinal watchfulness.). Paul's injunction to 
Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself and unto 
the doctrine," was to be taken with utmost 

4. The subject discussed by the Synodical 
Conference at its first session was a paper 
presented by Professor Loy, of the Ohio 
Synod, on the question, "What is our duty 
toward the English population of our 
country?" The other paper discussed the 
Lutheran doctrine of justification. Plainly, 
these people held it to be the supreme duty 
of the Church to preach the great funda- 
mental doctrine of justification by faith to 
this country in its own official language as 
soon as this could be done without a neglect 
of what was discussed in the third paper, 
"Innere Mission," or "Home Missions." 
They were anything but narrow. German as 
they were, they fully recognized America's 
greatest need and the necessity of united ef- 
fort to meet it. They, therefore, did not 
merely concern themselves with the working 
out of some plan to prevent the setting up 
of altar against altar in jointly occupied ter- 
ritories, or the avoidance of public criticism 
and inconsiderate argument in their church 
papers by providing for the adjustment of 
possible and probable differences at their 


doctor Carl 

joint local conferences or Synodical meetings, 
but they aimed to establish a large central 
theological seminary with a faculty composed 
of members of all the Synods, at which all can- 
didates for the holy ministry were at least 
to complete their studies. It was hoped that 
this uniform plan of education would serve 
to unite the Church through a unification of 
its ministry. Had it been possible to carry 
out this plan, the founding of a great Luth- 
eran university in America would have been 
a comparatively easy undertaking. They 
also contemplated an organization of the 
Church into State Synods, uniting all faithful 
Lutherans of every State in the Union into 
one body and federating them into one great 
Lutheran Church in America. That this 
might mean the substitution of some other 
plan of organization for the constitution of 
the Missouri Synod was perfectly plain to 
Walther, who, at a Delegate Synod, held at 
St. Louis in 1878, where this matter was dis- 
cussed, did not hesitate to openly and pub- 
licly say, "Der Teufel had den Namen Mis- 
sourish erfunden!" ("The devil invented the 
name Missourian!") Since the father of 
lies, speaking through the enemies of the 
gospel, also invented the name "Christian" 
and "Lutheran," Walther undoubtedly cor- 


Crue peace Cfjeologtan 


reedy stated the truth. His remark is quoted 
to show the ardent and prayerful desire of 
this Rechter Frie dens the olog for the unity of 
the Church at any sacrifice, save only the sac- 
rifice of the truth. When that was asked 
of him he had no choice as a humble, faith- 
ful pupil of Luther but to say, "Here I 
stand; I can do no other. God help me. 
Amen," and then let come what would. 


Cftapter 22 


When trying to paint a man's portrait in 
the Franz Hals manner with big swinging 
brush strokes, a point is sooner or later 
reached where it becomes necessary to pull 
the picture together with smaller strokes a 
remark which may, perhaps, explain the 
heading of this chapter and excuse the brief 
notes of which it is composed. 

In a letter to Doctor Sihler, dated March 
17, 1849, after discussing arrangements for 
the third meeting of Synod, Walther says: 
"I am now often very much downcast; I 
feel almost nothing save my misery, and only 
seldom the grace and power of my God. 
Pray for miserable me." What chiefly 
troubled him, besides the controversy with 
Pastor Grabau and the Buffalo Synod, was 
this : "We must consider how a division of 
the Synod may be accomplished without its be- 
ing split to pieces." The problem was not easy 
of solution. A Church which bases its unity 
entirely upon doctrinal agreement must of 
necessity provide for frequent meetings of 
its members to foster such agreement. There 


is no other way to attain their "all speaking 
the same thing, being perfectly joined to- 
gether in the same mind and in the same 
judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10). The new 
Synod was a little more than two years old. 
Its widely scattered members hardly knew 
each other. It was being most bitterly at- 
tacked by Pastor Grabau and his adherents. 
Pastor Loehe had published his "Aphoris- 
men," and indicated his disapproval of 
Walther's and partial approval of Grabau's 
position. Not a few members of the Synod 
were Loehe's grateful pupils. Men of prom- 
inence in the home Church also questioned 
the wisdom of more than one provision of 
the Synod's constitution. Doctrinal clear- 
ness, especially as regards the position of our 
Church on the question of "Church and 
Office," was sadly lacking. There had been 
almost no opportunity for Walther, as Presi- 
dent, to visit the congregations composing 
the Synod. Most of their members had 
never seen their leader. Now the suggestion 
was made to divide Synod. He recognizes 
that it cannot long be avoided or postponed. 
But the thought fills him with dread. No 
wonder he writes: "I am now very often 
downcast" (gedrueckt) . Action was de- 
ferred by the adoption of a committee re- 


Doctor Carl 

port, written by Pastor Craemer, advising 
against the proposed division. Three years 
later, at Fort Wayne, in 1852, a division into 
four districts was resolved upon, subject, of 
course, to the approval of the congregations. 
These districts were organized as follows: 
The Western District ( Missouri, Illinois and 
Iowa), with 37 parishes; the Middle District 
(Indiana, Ohio), with 36 parishes; the 
Northern District (Wisconsin, Michigan), 
with 14 parishes; the Eastern District (New 
York, Maryland, Pennsylvania), with 8 
parishes. The necessary changes to the con- 
stitution were submitted and discussed; the 
whole matter considered again at Cleveland 
in 1853, and finally resolved upon and con- 
summated at the eighth convention held at 
St. Louis in 1854. Pastor Friedrich Wyne- 
ken was elected General President, and 
Synod aranged to provide for his support 
by paying him a salary of $70 per month, 
and allowing him $140 for traveling ex- 
penses. He had been President of the Synod 
since 1850, when Walther was relieved of 
this office in order that he might, with entire 
singleness of purpose, devote himself to the 
upbuilding of Concordia College and Semi- 
nary and his editorial labors. The officers 
of the District Synods were elected, the time 



for their annual meeting fixed, whereupon 
the Allgemeine Synode (General Synod) ad- 
journed to meet after three years, having ap- 
pointed Fort Wayne as the place, and the 
first Monday of October, 1857, as the time 
for its next meeting. 

Dr. Sihler had been impressed by 
Walther's remarkable talent for organiza- 
tion when they met at St. Louis, in 1842, 
to discuss the draft of a constitution for the 
proposed Synod. The division of the Synod 
into districts necessitated important and far- 
reaching changes in the document adopted 
at Chicago in 1847. These changes and 
amendments, together with the amplifica- 
tions and interpretations (Wetter e Bestlm- 
mungeri) adopted from time to time and col- 
lected in the "Synodical Manual" ("Synodal- 
Handbuch" ) , now constitute a very respecta- 
ble body of what, for want of a better word, 
might be called ecclesiastical law. But the 
fundamental principles laid down in the 
Altenburg theses of 1841, first applied in the 
organization of the St. Louis congregation 
and later in the framing of Synod's constitu- 
tion on the lines described by Walther in a 
letter to Pastor Ernst (Vol. I, p. 16), have 
stood the strain of seventy years of growth 
and development. That they should have 


Doctor Carl U^altfjer 

done so, is at once a testimony to their cor- 
rectness and to the wonderful gifts of the 
man under whose leadersip they were thus 
applied and developed. Such was the im- 
press of his spirit upon the Synod and its in- 
stitutions, which at present counts twenty- 
two districts, that it to-day stands more firmly 
knit together in unity of faith and uniformity 
of practice than ever. 

At the Synodical convention of 1850, the 
Chicago District Conference presented 
twelve questions for consideration, the tenth 
of which ran 'like this: "How far may and 
should a Lutheran minister occupy himself 
with the advancement of the American Bible 
Society, which is composed of members of 
all sects, if he himself desires to obtain bene- 
fits through it?" Synod replied : "As re- 
spects participation with the American Bible 
Societies, Synod holds that absolutely no 
cause for it exists, and that the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church is very well able to found 
a Bible Society of its own." Despite this 
boldness of speech, Synod did not say how 
this Lutheran Bible Society was to be 
founded. It tacitly left that to Walther, 
who, as usual, conferred with Trinity congre- 
gation, which, on April 24, 1853, organized 
a Bible Society and elected him its President. 



Walther had a marvelous faculty for 
pressing every real man he met into service. 
Just as soon as this Bible Society, with its 
250 members, had collected sufficient funds, 
we find him writing to his former oppo- 
nent at the Altenburg Debate, Doctor Adolf 
Marbach, of Leipzig, requesting his assist- 
ance in arranging for the importation of 
Bibles from Germany. He had met him at 
his first visit to the fatherland, two years be- 
fore. He wrote his wife how mutual reti- 
cence at their first meeting betrayed mutual 
mistrust, which was soon overcome, so that 
the old love was not only rekindled, but 
burned with a brighter and purer flame than 
ever before. Accordingly, we find him writ- 
ing to the Herr Kommissionsrat, address- 
ing him "Teurer, in mem Herz einge- 
schlossoener Freund und Bruder" soliciting 
his interest and support for the Church in 
America. It was not denied him. Bibles 
were imported from the house of G. B. Teub- 
ner, Leipzig, through the intermediation of 
Doctor Marbach, and branches of the Luth- 
eran Bible Society were established in the 
larger cities of the country. But Walther 
and the Bible Society did not stop there. 
They published the so-called "Altenburger 
Bibelwerk," a devotional work containing 


Doctor Carl 

Luther's version with his notes, glosses and 
prefaces, the summaries of Veit Dietrich, and 
the brief prayers of Franciscus Vierling. 
They also published the Holy Scriptures in 
several editions before the society, after 
Walther's death, turned over all its property, 
representing a value of $17,407, to Synod in 

The eighth report of the proceedings of 
Synod has this note on its title page: "St. 
Louis, Mo., Printery of the Evangelical 
Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other 
States, 1854." So the young Synod had a 
printery. The matter is explained by a note 
on page 15 of the report of 1855, where it 
is stated "that our General Synod has come 
into possession of a printery of its own 
through a non-interest bearing loan of $1000, 
made by Mr. A. Wiebusch, of St. Louis, 
which apparently will be self-supporting 
within a few years. The Synod expressed 
its gratification, and tendered its sincere 
thanks to Mr. Wiebusch." It then promptly 
proceeded to discuss the publication of a 
Church history, a number of tracts, a reprint 
of Walther's Lutheraner articles on the 
Lord's Supper, a new Book of Forms, etc. 

It should have expressed its gratification 
and tendered its sincere thanks to Walther, 

Htgijts; anfc 

for it was he who had again pressed a man 
into service, and persuaded Mr. A. Wie- 
busch to launch this new undertaking. The 
1857 report shows that it represented a 
value of $5000, and was in a position to 
print such important publications as the "Al- 
tenburger Bibelwerk" and the new "Agende." 
After passing through the usual struggles 
and vicissitudes, it finally grew into Con- 
cordia Publishing House, the largest Church- 
owned printing establishment in this coun- 
try, which regularly issues an annual cata- 
logue of nearly 600 pages. It was strong 
enough to carry to successful completion a 
critical reprint of the twenty-four great quarto 
volumes of Luther's collected writings. When 
it, acting for Synod, in 1887, took over the 
property and work of the Bible Society, it 
not only gave proof that "the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church is very well able to found 
a Bible Society of its own," but that, as 
stated in paragraph 3, Chapter I, of Synod's 
constitution, the entire Church, instead of 
leaving this work to an association of indi- 
vidual Christians, ought itself be such a so- 
ciety "for the united propagation of the gos- 

The outbreak of the Civil War and the 
struggles for the possession of St. Louis 


Doctor Carl l&altfjer 

and its arsenal, together with the State of 
Missouri, at that time debated ground, 
caused Walther most distressing anxieties 
and cares. The position of our Church on 
the slavery question, as stated by him in 
Lehre und Wehre, and his refusal to have 
part in the intemperate agitations of the Abo- 
litionists, brought him the same measure of 
persecution that was meted out to Bishop 
John Henry Hopkins, of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church, whose "Scriptural, Ecclesias- 
tical and Historical View of Slavery," still 
remains unanswered. The cries of the day, 
"Down with the Bible, if it maintains 
slavery," "It is high time to have an anti- 
slavery God and an anti-slavery Bible," could 
not fail to shock him as they shocked other 
earnest and God-fearing men. Being honest, 
he could not but say so, refusing to be "driven 
about by every wind of doctrine." The in- 
evitable result was reviling and vituperation, 
the harder to bear because of the utter impos- 
sibility of making any effective reply. He 
was compelled to send his family to the 
country because it seemed that the college 
neighborhood would become the scene of a 
conflict between the troops of the federal gov- 
ernment and the State militia. The college 
was closed and the students sent to their 


homes. These events justified the gravest 
apprehensions, not merely for his personal 
safety (he seems never to have given that a 
thought), but for his family, and especially 
for the future of the Church. He writes of 
these things to his wife, to Pastor Linde- 
mann, to Pastor Brunn, and to the St. Louis 
District Conference, in session at Collins- 
ville, 111. (Letters, Vol. I, pp. 162-171.) 

This was after his return from Europe, 
where he had gone in the spring of 1860, to 
seek restoration of his health, broken down, 
at least in part, by the cares of his trying 
position during the dark days which preceded 
the great civil conflict. 

The St. Louis convention of Synod, in 
October, 1860, had resolved to remove the 
"Practical Seminary" from Fort Wayne to 
St. Louis, combining it with the "Theoretical 
Seminary," and to remove the college, or 
gymnasium, from St. Louis to Fort Wayne 
in order to develop it as a separate institu- 
tion. The resolution was carried out in the 
fall of 1861, after the institution, which had 
been closed in May, again began its work. 
The move was a happy one, and Walther 
writes to Schwan : "Although surrounded by 
reminders of bloody warfare, we here live in 
uninterrupted peace. Since Craemer's ad- 


doctor Carl 

vent, blessing upon blessing is gushing forth 
unto us from every side. With him I am one 
heart and one soul; we are both reviving, ex- 
cept that I thereby daily become more sapless 
and powerless." (Letters, Vol. I, p. 171.) 
The two men labored together until 1875, 
when the "Practical Seminary" was removed 
to its present home at Springfield, 111. 

In the midst of the turmoil and agitations 
of the civil war, Walther's congregation and 
friends insisted upon celebrating the twenty- 
fifth anniversary of his ordination. Trinity 
congregation also erected a magnificent new 
church building, at a cost of $1 13,000, which 
was dedicated, without one cent of debt, on 
December 3 and 4, 1865. Walther preached 
at the first service, selecting the 87th Psalm 
for his text. His subject was, "The won- 
derful, miraculous edifice, God's Church on 
earth." "It is," he said, " ( 1 ) in appearance 
so weak, and yet it stands so immovably firm ; 
(2) in appearance so poor, and yet it pos- 
sesses such incomparable treasures; (3) in ap- 
pearance so small, and yet it comprises such 
great, countless multitudes." Christ Protestant 
Episcopal Church, which had so generously 
extended its hospitality to the poor Saxon im- 
migrants twenty-seven years before, again 
accepted the invitation to a special Sunday 



evening service, at which Professor F. A. 
Schmidt preached on Rom. 1:16. The erec- 
tion and dedication of this fine building was 
a source of great joy to Walther, who had 
shared the trials and griefs of Trinity con- 
gregation since he became its pastor in 1841. 
At an extra session of Synod, held at Fort 
Wayne, in October, 1864, Wyneken insisted 
upon being relieved of the office of General 
President, which he had held since the di- 
vision of Synod into districts in 1854. The 
Synod again turned to Walther and urged 
him to accept the election to this important 
office, although it was necessary to again 
modify the constitutional instructions defin- 
ing his duties. Accordingly the General 
President was no longer required to visit in- 
dividual congregations, but merely to act as 
general overseer of all general interests of 
the Church. His participation in the public 
doctrinal discussions (colloquium) with the 
Buffalo Synod, in 1866; with the Iowa Synod, 
in 1867; with the Ohio Synod, in 1868; with 
the Wisconsin Synod, in the same year; with 
the Illinois Synod, in 1869, together with 
other meetings preliminary to the organiza- 
tion of the Synodical Conference, have been 
described above. These meetings and de- 
bates, with the required preparation and cor- 


Doctor Carl 

respondence, besides his ordinary duties as 
professor, editor and President of Synod, 
represent an immense amount of labor, as 
well as a severe physical and mental strain, 
more than sufficient to break down any ordi- 
nary man. It is, therefore, not surprising 
that his throat trouble returned in 1869, and 
that he suffered from a severe attack of 
rheumatism in 1870. At Milwaukee, in 
1873, where he was the guest of Pastor 
Lochner during a convention of the North- 
ern District Synod, he broke down com- 
pletely. A temporary loss of consciousness 
and memory were the threatening symptoms 
which prompted his physicians to insist that 
he at least moderate his activities and refrain 
from severe mental labors. He speaks of 
these trials with the simple faith of a child 
in a letter to his daughter Magdalene, quot- 
ing the words : "Ach Gott, von dessen Brod 
ich zehr, wenn ich dir nur was nuetze waer." 
He was prevented by his weakened condition 
from attending the second convention of the 
Synodical Conference in 1873, but after a 
brief rest he insisted upon taking part in the 
proceedings of the Middle District (August 
13-19), and the Eastern District (August 
27 to September 2), although he was unable 
to preach the sermons at the services with 



which these conventions are always opened. 
It is apparent that his strength was beginning 
to break, and that the loving care of his wife 
and family did more to conserve his powers 
than all medicines. That he should spare him- 
self for any length of time was not to be 
thought of, especially when there was the 
slightest hope of attaining his heart's great 
desire, "the final realization of one united 
Evangelical Lutheran Church of North 

The general Synodical body met at St. 
Louis in 1872, just twenty-five years after its 
organization at Chicago in 1847. It now 
numbered 428 pastors and 251 parish school 
teachers. It had two theological seminaries, 
a teachers' seminary, a gymnasium, and a 
publishing house. Its founders and organ- 
izers were, for the most part, at the height of 
their powers. And so they counted this a 
"Jubilee Synod," held their sessions in a 
large public hall, and discussed the question : 
"What problems must we solve in order that 
the blessing which God had poured out upon 
us during the past twenty-five years may not 
be lost, but transmitted to our posterity?" 

One answer was given by Walther's taking 
part in a free conference of English-speaking 
Lutherans, held at Gravelton, Mo., in 1872, 


Doctor Carl Waltfjer 

which led to the organization of the "Eng- 
lish Lutheran Conference of Missouri," and, 
later, to the "English Synod of Missouri,'* 
which body was absorbed by the mother 
Synod at St. Louis, in 1912, and is now "the 
English District of the Missouri Synod." 
Plainly, it was his conviction that our fathers' 
faith was to be preached in our children's 
tongue. The Synod had early concerned 
itself with the so-called "language problem." 
In 1857 it laid down the principles which 
ought to obtain in connection with the "or- 
ganization of English congregations out of 
German mother congregations." It had dele- 
gated Professor Walther and Pastor Schwan 
to adjust the differences between the German 
congregation of Pastor Keyl and the first 
St. Peter's congregation of Baltimore. It had 
appointed delegates to the Tennessee Synod, 
an English body, in 1853 and 1854. But it 
remained for Walther to give the English 
work of the Synod direction and form, by or- 
ganizing a purely English Conference in the 
Ozark Mountains of Missouri. 

The "Jubilee Synod" of 1872, recognizing 
the impossibility of meeting with a full at- 
tendance of pastors and lay delegates, ar- 
ranged for delegate representation by direct- 
ing that groups of two to seven congrega- 



tions are entitled to send one clerical and one 
lay delegate, while groups of two to seven 
advisory members are also entitled to a dele- 
gate at the conventions. This somewhat un- 
wieldy plan for the election of delegates is 
in vogue to this day, and the term "Dele- 
gatensynode" has supplanted the term, "All- 
gemelne Synode" for the triennial meetings 
of the general Church body. At the first 
"Delegate Synod," held at Fort Wayne, in 
1874, Walther asked to be relieved of the 
office of General President, a request which 
Synod declined to consider, although it again 
revised the constitutional instructions pertain- 
ing to this office, so as to lighten the burden 
of duties imposed upon its chief executive of- 
ficer. This constitution is unquestionably a 
very flexible document, capable of almost un- 
limited amendment, which simply means that 
it laid down correct principles and left their 
application and interpretation to the require- 
ments of future needs. 

In June, 1875, Concordia College cele- 
brated the twenty-fifth anniversary of its 
foundation. The little log cabin school, es- 
tablished by faith ''at the settlement of the 
.German Lutherans in Perry County, Mo., 
near the Obrazo," since its removal to St. 
Louis had grown and prospered under the 


Doctor Carl t^altfjet 

fostering care of Professor Walther and his 
associates. His services to the great cause 
of Christian education were publicly recog- 
nized by the Church when Capitol Univer- 
sity, of Columbus, Ohio, conferred the de- 
gree of Doctor of Divinity upon him in Jan- 
uary, 1878. This honor had been offered 
him by the theological faculty of the Univer- 
sity of Goettingen, in 1855, in a most flat- 
tering letter signed by the Dean "Herr Kon- 
sistorialrath und Professor der Theologie, 
Doktor J. G. Reiche." After conferring with, 
his brethren, Walther courteously but posi- 
tively declined to accept the proffered honor. 
His reasons for taking this position appear 
from letters written to his intimate friends, 
the Pastors Pick and Schieferdecker. On the 
one hand he held himself to be unworthy of 
this high honor ; on the other, he did not care 
to accept it at the hands of any but a 
staunchly Lutheran faculty. One hardly 
knows which to admire most, his almost ex- 
cessive modesty, or his uncompromising in- 
sistence upon purity of faith. 

When the same honor was offered him by 
the Joint Synod of Ohio, at that time part 
of the Synodical Conference, he felt himself 
constrained to accept, and the degree was 
formally conferred with appropriate cere- 

Htgfit* anb 

monies at the St. Louis Seminary, on January 
25, 1878. Guenther quotes his address of 
acceptance and his letter of thanks to the 
Chicago Pastoral Conference, which had sent 
its congratulations in verse form. Both are 
a testimony to his entire lack of self-appre- 
ciation and to his high regard for the ines- 
timable privilege of being with men like 
Luther, Chemnitz and Gerhard, publicly ac- 
claimed a "Teacher of Teachers" in the 
Church of the pure word and unadulterated 
sacraments. The congratulations which 
came to him from every side were publicly 
acknowledged in the Lutheraner. 

At the second "Delegate Synod," held in 
May, 1878, Walther again begged to be re- 
lieved of the office of "General President" 
in the interest of his work as professor at the 
seminary and many other duties. Synod, 
unable to refute his arguments, most re- 
luctantly granted his request, expressing the 
wish and the hope that he might, whenever 
possible, visit the conventions of District 
Synods so that the Church might profit 
through his gifts. 

In 1880, at the 300th anniversary of the 
acceptance of the Book of Concord, and the 
350th anniversary of the presentation of the 
Augsburg Confession, Walther contributed 


doctor Carl UMtfjer 

to the celebration by writing his "Der Kon- 
cordienformel Kern und Stern," a reprint of 
the Epitome, with a historical introduction 
and explanatory notes. In view of the ap- 
proaching 400th anniversary of the Reforma- 
tion, a remark of Guenther's is worth quot- 
ing. He says that Walther was privileged 
to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Luth- 
er's death in 1846; the 300th anniversary of 
the Religious Peace of Augsburg in 1855; 
the 350th anniversary of the Reformation 
in 1867; the 300th anniversary of the Form 
of Concord in 1877, as well as the double 
anniversary mentioned above. "He not only 
took part in these celebrations, but knew how 
to inspire others, gave most valuable guid- 
ance (Anleitung) for the ordering of the cel- 
ebrations, and showed the deep significance 
of these festivals" setting us an example 
for enthusiastic imitation to-day. 

Cftapter 23 


In his letter of thanks to the Chicago 
Pastoral Conference, which had sent him a 
congratulatory poem on his having been 
honored with the degree "Doctor of Divin- 
ity," Walther said: "The circle, in which I 
have hitherto lived, consists in this that God 
soon humbled, soon exalted me ; so that I al- 
ways knew when an exaltation came that a 
deep humiliation would promptly follow." 
What he does not say is this : God at times 
employs the same means for our humiliation 
that were used for our exaltation, and vice 
versa. He at times casts down by the same 
means He employed to lift up. It was, 
therefore, not at all surprising that the same 
men who, in 1878, publicly lifted up Walther 
to be a Doctor of Theology, a "Teacher of 
Teachers" in the faithful Lutheran Church, 
within two years afterwards just as publicly 
charged him with heresy. It was not surpris- 
ing, but it hurt. A blow always hurts, but the 
hurt is doubled when it is preceded by a caress. 
It is more than doubled when the same hand 


doctor Carl 

does both, caresses and strikes. The pain 
and grief caused Walther by the unfortunate 
predestination controversy of 1880, with its 
divisions and offences, will, perhaps, never 
be fully told. It shattered some of his fond- 
est hopes, and, so far as may be seen by 
human eyes, threw back the development of 
the Church for years. The dreams of the 
men who at the organization of the Synodi- 
cal Conference saw one great Lutheran 
Church of America organized by states, sup- 
porting a great central Lutheran Seminary, 
with a German-English-Scandinavian faculty, 
which might have grown into a great Luth- 
eran university, like most other dreams, van- 
ished in a moment. At the time they seemed 
very real. Walther, in a letter to his friend, 
Ottesen, expresses the wish that he might 
labor at his side as professor of theology, 
and incidentally teases him a little by suggest- 
ing that he might give private instructions to 
the faculty in refined manners (Vol. II, p. 
227). It was not to be. How this bitter 
disappointment affected Walther will, per- 
haps, appear from his letters written during 
the period. The present second volume 
closes with 1871. Fortunately, the publica- 
tion of other and later letters is promised. 

It is manifestly impossible in this brief 

chapter to present any full discussion of the 
controversy and the questions of doctrine it 
involved. Books have been written on it. It 
is still the subject of discussion at inter- 
synodical meetings and conferences. One 
can hardly do more than attempt a brief ac- 
count of Walther's connection with the pain- 
ful strife together with its effect upon him 
and his work. 

And here one can best begin by gratefully 
quoting from Doctor Krauth's "Conserva- 
tive Reformation": "The life of a Church 
may be largely read in its controversies. As 
the glory or shame of a nation is read upon 
its battlefields which tell for what it perilled 
the lives of its sons, so may the glory or 
shame of a Church be determined when we 
know what it fought for and what it fought 
against; how much it valued what it believed 
to be the truth ; what was the truth it valued ; 
how much it did, and how much it suffered to 
maintain that truth, and what was the issue 
of its struggles and sacrifices. ... A Church 
which contends for nothing, either has lost 
the truth, or has ceased to love it" (p. 147). 
These words apply to an individual teacher 
of the Church as to the Church itself. We 
may, therefore, apply them to Walther and 
his position in the controversy on the doc- 


Boctor Carl 

trine of predestination and the related doc- 
trine of conversion. It is impossible to fol- 
low Hochstetter's account of, this contro- 
versy. His history of the Missouri Synod 
was written in 1885, when the engendered 
bitterness was at its height. While he makes 
no misstatements of fact, he does ascribe 
and impugn motives. Guenther is far more 
charitable. For him the controversy is de- 
plorable, because of the divisions and of- 
fences it wrought ; on the other hand, bene- 
ficial, because through it many souls were 
healed of the error of synergism, and led to 
give God all glory for their salvation. He 
briefly and objectively discusses Walther's 
writings on the debated doctrines, and closes 
his chapter by quoting several of his letters 
written to friends during this period. We 
shall fare best if we follow his example. 

The most elaborate presentation of the 
subject from the viewpoint of the Ohio 
Synod is a book published in 1897, by Pastor 
E. L. S. Tressel, under the somewhat ponder- 
ous title, "The Error of Modern Missouri : 
Its Inception, Development and Refutation." 
It contains translations of lengthy papers by 
Doctor F. W. Stellhorn, Doctor F. A. 
Schmidt, and "several former members of 
the Missouri Synod," the most prominent of 

which were the Pastors Allwardt, Doermann 
and Ernst. The most simple and convincing 
presentation in English from the viewpoint 
of Missouri is a tract by the recently de- 
ceased Pastor F. Kuegele, entitled, "Sermons 
on Predestination, with a Few Remarks on 
the Eight Points." It was privately pub- 
lished in 1881, and is now, unfortunately, out 
of print. 

In the doctrinal discussions, which are such 
an important feature of all conventions of 
the Missouri Synod, the Western District, 
under Walther's leadership, had for years 
discussed the theme : "Only through the doc- 
trine of the Lutheran Church is God alone 
given all glory, an irrefutable proof that its 
doctrine is the only true one." This was 
elaborated from year to year with reference 
to the various fundamental doctrines of the 
Church. In 1877 the doctrine of predesti- 
nation was discussed upon the basis of theses 
taken verbatim from the Form of Concord. 
Thesis III states: "The Lutheran Church 
teaches that it is false and wrong to teach 
that not the mercy of God and the most holy 
merits of Christ alone, but that in us also 
there is a cause of the election of God for 
the sake of which God has elected us unto 
eternal life." A comparison of this state- 


Doctor Carl BMtfjer 

ment with the XI Article of the Epitome, 
which says, "We know how we are elected 
to eternal life in Christ, through pure grace 
without any of our merit," is sufficient, if 
proof were needed, to show its correctness. 
Moreover, the Eleventh Article also emphat- 
ically says: "The predestination, or eternal 
election of God, pertains alone to the good 
and beloved children of God; and it is a 
cause of their salvation, which He also pro- 
cures, and orders that which belongs to it. 
Upon this their salvation is so firmly 
founded, that the gates of hell cannot prevail 
against them (John 10:28; Matt. 16: 18)." 
It is apparent that this statement, unless 
it be received with simple faith, may give rise 
to endless subtle questions. The Form of 
Concord recognizes this and wards them off 
by insisting that "This predestination of God 
is not to be sought in God's secret counsel, 
but in the word of God, in which it is re- 
vealed"; "We should, therefore, not judge 
concerning this election to eternal life, either 
from our reason, or from the law of God" ; 
"The true sentiment concerning predestina- 
tion must be derived from the holy gospel 
of Christ alone" ; "We must banish from our 
minds other thoughts which flow not from 
God, but from the insinuations of the malev- 


olent enemy," etc. Plainly, the Confession is 
urging that in discussing this article we con- 
fine ourselves to plain statements of Scripture 
and be on our guard against deductions 
and conclusions "from our reason or from 
the law of God" a position taken by 
Walther on this, as on all other doctrines. 
Consequently he refused to accept as "an un- 
fortunately selected terminology" of the 
faithful dogmaticians of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, a term invented by Aegidius Hunnius, 
namely, that "God elected in view of faith" 
("intuitu fidei"). He insisted, and Synod 
with him, that "God indeed has elected only 
those who believe, but not because they be- 
lieve." Accordingly, the statement is made, 
on page 5 1 of the famous Western District 
report of 1877: "God foresaw nothing, ab- 
solutely nothing in those whom He resolved 
to save which might be worthy of salvation, 
and even if it be admitted, that He foresaw 
some good in them, this still could not have 
determined Him to elect them for that rea- 
son, for all good in man first comes from 
Him, as the Scriptures teach." Certainly it 
cannot be denied that Walther and the Mis- 
sourians were concerned to give all glory to 
God and none to man. 

These statements were attacked by Pro- 


Doctor Cat I 

fessor F. A. Schmidt, a catechumen and stu- 
dent of Walther, and a former pastor of the 
Missouri Synod, at that time professor of the 
Theological Seminary of the Norwegian 
Synod at Madison, Wis. He had been pas- 
tor of the first St. Peter's English congrega- 
tion at Baltimore, and left it at the out- 
break of the Civil War to accept a professor- 
ship offered by the Norwegian Synod. He 
had also been prominently mentioned as a 
possible theological professor for Concordia, 
St. Louis. In January, 1880, he published 
a new theological magazine, Altes und Neues 
(Old and New), in which he declared that 
he must sound the alarm against the new 
Cryptocalvinism of Missouri, as expressed 
in the Synodical report of the Western 
District of 1877. This publication had 
been preceded by a private correspondence 
with Walther and others. The General 
President of the Missouri Synod, Pastor 
Schwan, had vainly invited Professor 
Schmidt and his brother-in-law, Pastor All- 
wardt, to a conference with President Fuer- 
bringer in July, 1879. Moreover, appeal 
was made to the Synodical Conference agree- 
ment, according to which its members were 
pledged, in case of any difference, to make no 
public accusation or attack against each other 



before every means of adjusting such differ- 
ences had been exhausted. This appeal was 
also in vain. Professor Schmidt printed his 
magazine and published his charges, direct- 
ing them primarily against Walther. In pass- 
ing, it must be noted that similar charges had 
been made by Professor G. Fritschel, of the 
Iowa Synod, to which Walther had replied 
through Lehre und Wehre, in 1872. 
Walther carefully refrained from making 
any direct personal reply to the attacks of 
Professor Schmidt, a member of the house- 
hold of faith. Instead, the "Missourians" ap- 
pealed to the President of the Synodical Con- 
ference, Professor Lehmann, of Columbus, 
Ohio, urging that an effort be made to pre- 
vent the threatening conflict through an ex- 
tra convention of that body. Professor 
Lehmann took the position that he was not 
authorized to call such a meeting. After 
his death, on December 1, 1880, almost a 
full year after the first number of Altes und 
Neues had appeared, Profesor Larsen, the 
Vice-President, arranged for a gathering of 
all theological faculties within the Synodical 
Conference, at Milwaukee, January 5, 1881. 
After five days of fruitless debate, the repre- 
sentatives of the Ohio Synod withdrew, de- 
claring themselves to be unable, because of 



certain reasons, to remain in further attend- 
ance. A motion to meet again within a year, 
while refraining from all public polemics, 
failed to prevail. Professor Schmidt de- 
clared himself to be commanded of God to 
wage this war, whereupon Walther declared, 
"So be it. You wish war; you shall have 
war." The conflict was on. 

Meanwhile a general pastoral conference 
of all ministers of the Missouri Synod had 
been held in Chicago. It convened in the 
church of Pastor Wagner, on September 29, 
1880, and was attended by 500 pastors 
from all parts of the country. Since noth- 
ing had been done by the Synodical Confer- 
ence to prevent the threatening breach or 
restore disrupted relations, Walther and his 
co-laborers felt it incumbent upon them to 
do all in their power to strengthen and for- 
tify the ministerium of Synod, especially 
since there was talk of "the whole colossus 
of the Missouri Synod breaking into a 
thousand pieces," which simply meant that 
the work of a lifetime was to be undone. 
Walther led the discussions at this confer- 
ence, which remained in session until Octo- 
ber 5. Another was held at Fort Wayne 
the following year, May 23 and 24, 1881. 
Stenographic reports of the proceedings at 


Predestination Controbergp 

both of these important gatherings have been 
printed. At the Fort Wayne convention of 
the Delegate Synod, May 11-21, 1881, the 
thirteen theses or propositions published by 
Walther in Volume 36 of the Luther aner 
(1880, Nos. 2-9), were adopted as a public 
statement of faith on the debated questions. 
They are quoted by Doctor Neve in his 
"Brief History of the Lutheran Church in 
America." This convention also instructed 
its delegates to the sessions of the Synodical 
Conference "not to sit together and deliber- 
ate with such as have publicly decried us as 
Calvinists," and "not to recognize any 
Synod which as a Synod has raised the same 
accusation of Cahinisterei against us." 

These resolutions were undoubtedly in- 
vited by the publication, in February, 1881, 
of the Columbus Theological Magazine, a 
new theological monthly edited by Professor 
M. Loy. The titles of its two leading arti- 
cles, "The Burning Question" and "Mis- 
souri Retractions," sufficiently indicate its 
character and tendency. The Ohio Synod 
met in extra session at Wheeling, W. Va., 
in September of the same year, and resolved 
to withdraw from the Synodical Conference ; 
first, because it could not accept Missouri's 
doctrine of predestination, and, secondly, be- 


Doctor Carl 

cause of the above instructions given its dele- 
gates by the Missouri Synod at its Fort 
Wayne convention. The vote on withdrawal 
was 119 to 19. The die was cast, and the 
controversy which followed was exceedingly 
bitter. Pastors and congregrations withdrew 
from the Ohio Synod to join the Missouri; 
pastors and congregations of the Missouri 
Synod withdrew to join the Ohio Synod. Not 
only congregations, but families and house- 
holds were divided, the husband communing 
at one church, the wife at another. The in- 
evitable setting up of opposition altars, not 
only in cities and towns but in country mis- 
sionary districts, went on apace. The polemi- 
cal theological literature of the Church was 
enormously increased. The zeal of both 
bodies for the great, pressing work of home 
missions was wonderfully stimulated. While 
in some cases a "Christ of contention," 
rather than a "Christ of love," may have 
been preached, we have gotten far enough 
away from the personalities of those days 
to say with Paul: "What then? Notwith- 
standing every way, whether in pretence or 
in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein 
do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Phil. 
1 : 18). Instead of retarding the growth 
and development of either Synod, the contro- 

Prebegttnatfon Controbergp 

versy seems to have stimulated and accel- 
erated it. In the decade, 1878-1888, the 
Missouri Synod almost doubled the number 
of its pastors. 

On the side of doctrine there was also a 
great gain. The congregations were "en- 
riched in all utterance and in all knowledge, 
even as the testimony of Christ was con- 
firmed in them" (1 Cor. 1 : 5, 6). Ordinary 
laymen kept and studied Lehre und Wehre, 
besides reading and discussing the pamphlets 
and brochures put forth by Walther. A 
spirit of deep earnestness, which expressed 
itself in unremitting effort to "hold fast the 
profession of our faith without wavering," 
and a striving after assurance of faith and 
holiness of living, pervaded the congrega- 
tions. Pastors and laymen together searched 
the Scriptures and the Confessions. Nor did 
they take anything for granted. The fol- 
lowing incident actually occurred : A simple 
fish peddler in a Detroit congregation asked 
his pastor if our Lord's words, "My sheep 
hear my voice, and I know them, and they 
follow me; and I give unto them eternal 
life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall 
any man pluck them out of my hand" (Job 
10: 27, 28), were spoken of the elect or of 
temporary believers. When the pastor said, 


Doctor Carl lalti)er 

"Of temporary believers" (Von den Zett- 
glaubigen), he immediately replied, "So; 
now I have enough. Now I know that I 
must follow Doctor Walther, and not you." 
A "Missourian" may be pardoned for hold- 
ing that when all is said and done the Luth- 
eran Church of this country will follow the 
example of the fish peddler rather than that 
set by men who imagine they can give all 
glory to God while insisting that "in a cer- 
tain respect conversion and salvation de- 
pend also upon man, and not alone upon 
God" the more so when we remember that 
even the opponents of the Missouri Synod 
admit that they can accept Walther 's "Thir- 
teen Theses." 

How the painful controversy affected 
Walther will best appear if we quote from 
several of his letters. On March 29, 1881, 
he writes to a layman, who had urged him to 
give up his Calvinistic errors. After thank- 
ing him for his letter, he goes on to say: 
"Do not imagine that I am only a Kopfge- 
lehrter (a man of head learning). Fifty 
years ago, by God's grace, I came through 
long and severe anxiety of soul to a knowl- 
edge of my sinful misery, and hereupon 
through God's word and Holy Spirit, to a 
living knowledge of my Saviour. And now, 

ination Conttofrerstp 

since the deplorable predestination contro-i 
versy has arisen, I cry and plead day and 
night upon my knees to God, that He will not 
suffer me to fall into error, but make me 
to know the truth and keep me in it until my 
end, which is not far removed, for I am in 
my seventieth year. But God makes me 
more and more certain that the doctrine 
which I confess is right. For it stands in 
God's word and in the precious Confession 
of our faithful Church." 

On June 15, 1880, he writes to his friend, 
the Senior Pastor Buerger : "I, too, am glad 
to know that you do not believe the report 
that T in one point have already given in. 
Gladly would I do so, if God's word per- 
mitted it and peace might thereby be pur- 
chased, but so far nothing brought forth 
against our doctrine has been able to con- 
vince me of an error. My conscience is bound 
in God's word; to do anything against that, 
however, is 'neither safe nor prudent,' as 
Luther said at Worms. 

"Unto death, for which I greatly long, 
"Yours, WALTHER." 

On March 5, 1881, he writes to another 
friend: "The free grace of God in Christ 
is at present, as you will understand, the mat- 
ter which occupies me day and night. The 


Doctor Carl ttealtfjer 

controversy which has arisen on the doctrine 
of predestination forces me to it. 'So then 
it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that 
runneth, but of God that showeth mercy' 
(Rom. 9: 16); these are the words which 
constantly ring in the ear of my soul and 
which God lays upon my heart as an iron 
breastplate, from which all shafts of specula- 
tive reason, which my opponents fire at me, 
rebound. They so completely agree with 
my own experience." 

Under date of March 8, 1884, he writes 
the same friend: "That I belong to the 
brethren of the Lord and even to the 'most 
lowly,' this I certainly venture to believe 
upon Christ's Saviour love; despite this, that 
I from the bottom of my soul do not consider 
myself worthy to be called the shoe clout 
of the feet of Christ, the Lord of glory, 
and despite this that just now, more than 
ever, they hate me and separate me and re- 
proach me and cast out my name as evil 
(Luke 6:22), for I have this good confi- 
dence, that it is done only 'for the Son of 
man's sake,' not because I am actually a 
heretical Calvinist, but because I desire to 
leave glory alone, altogether alone, to my 
Lord Jesus, namely, to leave this glory, that 
it is His grace and mercy alone when a lost 


Prebegtmation OEantrobergp 

sinner is found, converted and finally saved, 
while he who is not found is not lost because 
God did not seek him, but alone because he 
would not suffer himself to be found." 

That a former pupil should have in- 
augurated this controversy, and that other 
pupils should have associated themselves 
with him in attacks which were by no means 
free from personalities, and that the hope 
of disrupting the great Church body he had 
organized should have been publicly ex- 
pressed these things were inexpressibly bit- 
ter to him, and the harder to bear because 
of his failing health and strength. He did 
not often complain of them, but reference to 
his approaching end and an ardent desire to 
be delivered from the body of this death, be- 
come more and more frequent in his letters 
and conversation. He had not long to wait. 
But while life remained, he labored for the 
great principle of his every thought and ac- 
tivity, "Soli Deo Gloria" (To God alone be 


Chapter 24 


In the Lutheraner of June 15, 1881, 
Walther published an "Appeal to all mem- 
bers of our Synod Congregations," asking 
for free-will offerings to erect a new semi- 
nary building upon the site occupied by the 
building erected when the institution was re- 
moved from its Perry County log cabin home 
to St. Louis. This new building was planned 
to have a front of 225 feet and a depth of 95 
feet, with sixty rooms for students, a chapel 
and assembly hall, a library and reading- 
room and eight lecture-rooms. It was to be 
built of brick, with stone trimmings, and to 
cost $100,000. It is significant that the Synod 
directed Walther, the President of the in- 
stitution, to make this appeal, and not its 
chief executive officer, the Allgemeiner 
Praeses, Pastor Schwan. Walther was still 
its leader in all larger undertakings. At the 
convention of Synod the question had been 
raised if it was not advisable to postpone the 
building of the new seminary until the doc- 
trinal controversy disquieting the congrega- 
tions had been allayed. Walther answers 


this by pointing to two things : First, that the 
condition described in Acts 9:31, "Then had 
the churches rest throughout all Judea and 
Galilee and Samaria, and were edified," or- 
dinarily obtains but seldom and for a brief 
time ; and secondly, the history of the Church 
shows that the Church just in periods of hot- 
test conflict performed the most magnificent 
works which called for the greatest sacrifices 
on her part. He illustrates this with the ex- 
ample of the Reformation Church, and urges, 
while the present conflict is no child's play, 
it is, after all, but a small thing compared 
with the struggles endured by the Church 
300 or 350 years before. Following the ex- 
ample of our pious forefathers, we dare not 
neglect the works of peace in days of strife. 
He then goes on to appeal to the "insight, 
the goodwill and the love" of the members 
of Synod's congregations, pointing to the 
blessings which God in the past thirty-four 
years had graciously and abundantly poured 
out upon His Church, and the responsibilities 
devolving upon it through the immigration 
so largely composed of its children pouring 
into the great Middle West. 

The response was prompt and generous. 
Although the building cost $140,000, instead 
of $100,000, as originally estimated, when 


Doctor Carl 

Delegate Synod convened at St. Louis, in 
1884, almost the entire amount had been 
provided for. The dedication exercises, on 
September 9, 1883, a few weeks before the 
400th anniversary of Luther's birth, were at- 
tended by a great congregation of 20,000 
people, 160 pastors, graduates of the semi- 
nary, representatives of all Synodical Con- 
ference colleges, officers of District Synods, 
etc. Of course, Walther, who had laid the 
corner-stone on October 1, 1882, held the 
festival address. The festivities lasted for 
several days. True to the many-tongued 
character of the Church, the program was 
made up of German, English and Latin 
hymns and addresses. Of course, the Gast 
Lithograph Company prepared a lithograph 
of the building, the vivid reds and bright 
greens of which, in an appropriate frame, 
decorated the front rooms of most Missouri 
Synod farm houses. Walther had spoken 
of it as being a monument to the love and 
mercy of God and the generous gratitude of 
His Christians. The people were proud of 
their monument, and it is not surprising that 
a picture of the college, together with a stiff 
Wehle portrait of Martin Luther, a copy 
of the Altenburg Bible, a Gebetschatz, and 
a volume of Walther's sermons were held 



to be indispensable articles in every properly 
furnished Lutheran home. 

In 1882 and 1883 two other appeals ap- 
peared in the Lutheraner, namely, appeals 
for students to prepare for the holy ministry. 
They were written by Pastor Otto Hanser, 
of Trinity congregation, St. Louis, a member 
of the College Aufsichtsbehoerde, or Board 
of Trustees. In 1881 complaint had been 
voiced because "so few young people are to 
be found who are inclined to enter our in- 
stitutions to prepare for the ministry of the 
word and sacraments." The reference was 
to the "Practical Seminary" at Springfield. 
In his appeal Pastor Hanser spoke of all the 
educational institutions of Synod. He 
headed it, "A Cry for Help in Great Need." 
He introduces it with the statement that no 
appeal was ever made through the Luther- 
aner which did not find immediate and will- 
ing response. He was right, for the num- 
ber of students at the institutions of Synod, 
especially at Springfield, promptly doubled. 
At the "Practical Seminary," in 1883, tents 
rented from the State militia were pitched on 
the college campus to accommodate students 
until provision could be made for their 
proper housing. The Milwaukee congrega- 
tions founded a new Concordia Gymnasium 


Doctor Carl 

in 1881, which soon threatened to rival the 
original Concordia at Fort Wayne. Its first 
building was dedicated January 3, 1883. A 
similar institution for the East was founded 
by the New York congregations, under the 
leadership of Pastor Siecker and old St. 
Matthew's, which, through the self-sacrific- 
ing labors of Pastor Koepchen, of St. Luke's, 
and Pastor Schoenfeld, of Immanuel's, has 
since been developed into the splendid insti- 
tution at Bronxville, Greater New York. 
What Walther had said of the Church per- 
forming its most magnificent works and 
bringing the greatest sacrifices in periods of 
hottest trial and conflict, was coming true. 

The Synod also began to energetically di- 
rect its attention to the establishment of Eng- 
lish congregations, a work which the Synod- 
ical Conference had hitherto been inclined to 
leave to the Ohio Synod. The Western Dis- 
trict created a Board to take charge of this 
work in 1880, which, in 1882, called Pastor 
A. Baepler as its traveling missionary, and 
appealed for funds to the congregations of 
Synod. The Board was far from recogniz- 
ing the need of making provision for the 
younger members of Synod's city congrega- 
tions who might be better served by English 
than by German preaching, but the machin- 



ery for its support and guidance was pro- 
vided, to be effectively used when the need 
appeared. The Lutheran Witness, a "new 
English Lutheran Family Paper," was issued 
by Pastor C. A. Frank, of Zanesville, Ohio, 
in 1882. Walther warmly welcomes it in the 
Lutheraner, of June 1, encourages the under- 
taking, and asks all "who understand Eng- 
glish" to promptly become its subscribers. 
The work begun at Baltimore, in Wyneken's 
time, and interrupted when Pastor F. A. 
Schmidt left the first St. Peter's to go to 
Madison, Wis., at the outbreak of the war, 
was again taken up under Walther's inspira- 
tion and direction. Thus Walther had the 
joy of seeing Synod "lengthen its cords and 
strengthen its stakes" in every direction. 
When Delegate Synod convened at St. 
Louis, May 7, 1884, the General President, 
Pastor Schwan, selected Ps. 126:3, "The 
Lord hath done great things for us, whereof 
we are glad," for the text of his opening ad- 
dress. Three years before, at Fort Wayne, 
May 11, 1881, he had: "My grace is suffi- 
cient for thee; for my strength is made per- 
fect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). As the 
outcome showed, the words were almost 

The Synodical Conference convened for 


Doctor Carl 

its ninth convention at Chicago, October 4, 
1882. The report of the Lutheraner speaks 
of the "anxious fears" ("bange Befuerchtun- 
gen"} with which the delegates traveled to 
the place of meeting. Professor F. A. 
Schmidt appeared as lay delegate of a Con- 
ference of the Norwegian Synod. The Mis- 
souri Synod delegates protested against his 
being seated as a member of the convention, 
presenting a document prepared by Walther 
and privately discussed by them on Octo- 
ber 3. Similar protests were made in behalf 
of the Wisconsin and Minnesota Synods. 
The delegates of the Norwegian Synod were 
divided. The result of the lengthy discus- 
sions was the refusal on the part of the 
Synods represented to grant Professor 
Schmidt seat and voice before he admitted 
that he hastily and without the necessary 
negotiations and steps had accused the Synod- 
ical Conference of Calvinism and broken 
into its congregations, causing divisions and 
offences. He was directly asked if he came 
as a friend or opponent of the Conference: 
Upon his failure to give direct answer to 
these pertinent questions, the assembled 
delegates refused him the desired recogni- 

Although the majority of the pastors of 



the Norwegian Synod inclined to the doctrine 
on predestination and conversion confessed 
by the Synodical Conference, the Norwe- 
gians, nevertheless, withdrew from formal 
connection with that body in order that they 
might the more readily deal with any diffi- 
culties arising in their midst. This step, 
however, did not prevent a breach, for Pro- 
fessor Schmidt withdrew, in 1887, with a 
considerable following, to organize "the 
United Norwegian Lutheran Church." 

Walther led the doctrinal discussions at 
the convention of the Synodical Conference 
held at Cleveland, Ohio, August 13-18, 1884. 
He visited the Detroit convention, August 
11-16, 1886, on his way home from Cleve- 
land, where he had attended the sessions of 
the Middle District, assembled August 4-10, 
in the church of his son-in-law, Pastor J. 
Niemann. He had previously visited, as he 
said, for the last time, his children in New 
York, where the entire Pastoral Conference 
of the city assembled to greet him and spend 
a few hours in his company. He was far 
from well at the time, and he sorely missed 
the companionship and loving care of his 
devoted wife, who had entered into her rest 
August 23, 1885. Still, he managed to lead 
the doctrinal discussions at the sessions of 


Doctor Carl 

the Western District, assembled at St. Louis, 
October 13-19, 1886. He there completed 
a work, begun thirteen years before, to which 
reference has more than once been made in 
this story of his life. Guenther, who was 
present at the sessions, describes how he, 
weakened by fever, summoned all his powers 
to carry his self-imposed task to successful 
completion, and finally, deeply moved and 
with sobs, closed : "Now we are at an end with 
our theses discussed during the past thirteen 
years, in which it was shown that our Luth- 
eran Church in all of these doctrines gives 
all glory to God and never ascribes to the 
creature the glory which belongs to the great 
God. What belongs to God she also gives 
Him fully. Now may the dear Lord help, 
that we not alone rejoice to belong to such 
a Church, but that we, too, may give Him 
all glory through our faith, confession, life, 
suffering and death. The motto of our life 
must be, 'Soli Deo Gloria/' " It was, Guen- 
ther truthfully says, the motto of his life, and 
it was wonderfully fitting that it should be 
his last public utterance before glorifying 
his God through a Christian death. 

Soon his condition became worse. Still 
he continued his lectures at the seminary, 
although he was urged to spare himself. On 


Closing Paps: 

October 25, he celebrated his seventy-fifth 
birthday, receiving his fellow-professors, 
relatives and friends, who gathered at his 
home after their usual custom, with his 
wonted courtesy and friendliness. On Wed- 
nesday, November 3, he attended the local 
Pastoral Conference. In the evening he con- 
sented, upon representations made by the 
College Board of Trustees, to discontinue 
his lectures. In December his daughter 
"Lenchen" came from New York to nurse 
him. He was privileged to celebrate Christ- 
mas in her company, and with all Christen- 
dom once more to join his weak "Soli Deo 
Gloria/" with the hosts of heaven, who sang 
the first "Glory be to God on high!" at the 
Saviour's birth. 

On January 16, 1887, the second Sunday 
after Epiphany, he celebrated the fiftieth an- 
niversary of his ordination. What a won- 
derful fifty years they had been ! An appro- 
priate celebration had long been considered, 
but in his weakened condition any larger func- 
tion was not to be thought of. Still, the stu- 
dent body gathered at his home in the early 
morning to greet him with song and offer 
their congratulations; appropriate sermons 
were preached in the local churches; repre- 
sentatives of Synod, the faculty, and the con- 


Doctor Carl fteatt&er 

gregations waited on him to give expression 
to their regard and esteem. Congratulatory 
letters and telegrams came from every part 
of the country. Walther received the vari- 
ous delegations sitting in an invalid chair, 
and toward the end, while struggling to ex- 
press his thanks, he broke down completely. 
A letter dictated to his son, Pastor Ferdi- 
nand Walther, and published in the Luther- 
aner (Vol. 43, No. 3), gives wider, if not 
fuller, expression to the feelings which filled 
his heart. 

In this letter he describes his illness as "a 
complete absorption of all bodily powers," 
which prevents his walking three steps un- 
aided, and even when supported by others 
the attempt to walk ten steps robs him of his 
breath and almost induces a fainting spell. 
That was January 17. He lingered, grad- 
ually losing strength, until the time came for 
Delegate Synod to convene at Fort Wayne, 
on May 4. In his opening address President 
Schwan made most touching reference to 
Walther's condition and the futility of hop- 
ing for any improvement. "We must," he 
said, "make up our minds that the next 
moment may bring us the news of his depart- 
ing." The news came on the evening of 
Saturday, May 7. Pastor Stoeckhardt had 

Closing &apg 

remained at St. Louis to be with him. On 
Friday night, after praying with him at his 
request, Pastor Stoeckhardt asked a question 
similar to that asked of Luther on the night 
of his death by his friends, Jonas and Coelius, 
to which the dying hero of the faith an- 
swered with an audible "Yes." Stoeckhardt 
asked Walther if he stood ready to cheer- 
fully die upon the grace of Christ, which he 
had proclaimed all his life ? to which question 
Walther, too, answered with an audible 
"Yes." He lingered, seemingly without 
pain, pitiably weak, yet fully conscious, until 
5.30 Saturday evening, when he quietly and 
peacefuly fell asleep in his Lord. 

At the request of Synod the funeral serv- 
ices were postponed until May 17, in order 
that the pastors and delegates might attend. 
Synod continued and closed its sessions in St. 
Paul's Church, which was draped in black 
by the Fort Wayne congregations. On Fri- 
day, May 13, the body of their beloved 
teacher was borne from Walther's residence 
by eight students to the seminary, where it 
lay in state under student guard until Sunday 
afternoon, when it was taken to Trinity 
Church to await its interment on Tuesday. 
At the funeral services President Schwan 
preached on the 90th Psalm, Professor Crae- 


Doctor Carl 

mer spoke on 2 Kings 2:12, and Pastor Otto 
Hanser, at the grave, on Dan. 12 : 2, 3. Pro- 
fessor Larsen also spoke in behalf of the 
Norwegian Synod. All the Synods of the 
Synodical Conference had sent representa- 
tives, and Guenther remarks : "At no funeral 
services of a theologian in America did so 
many theologians take part. The city of St. 
Louis has hardly seen a larger funeral." 
"Walther was verily carried to his grave like 
a prince and great one of the kingdom of 
God," says Hanser. As the funeral pro- 
cession, on its way to Trinity Cemetery, 
passed the seminary, his beloved Concordia, 
it stopped for a silent, solemn moment at the 
scene of his earthly labors for the upbuild- 
ing unto true concord and unity of the faith- 
ful Lutheran Church of America. His mor- 
tal body was laid in its last resting place at 
the side of his beloved wife, to await the 
resurrection unto glory at the coming of the 
Lord. A gothic mausoleum, with a life-sized 
statue of Walther, was placed over the two 
graves by the St. Louis congregation and his 
friends. It was dedicated with a simple serv- 
ice on June 12, 1892. True, he did not need 
this memorial to be remembered, for "the 
memory of the just is blessed." Even as it is 
written: "Blessed are the dead which die in 


the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the 
Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; 
and their works do follow them." Having 
been erected, one cannot but wish that room 
had been found to place upon its granite 
walls in letters of imperishable bronze, the 
motto of his life, the thought which inspired 
his every word and deed: 



Cfjapter 25 


The Book of Books, which may not incor- 
rectly be called a collection of biographies, 
because God teaches men through the experi- 
ence of other men, never presents what we 
call a character study or a character anal- 
ysis. It quietly and simply tells the story of a 
man's life and words and deeds, and then 
leaves it to us to draw conclusions and make 
applications, which is the more easy because 
it never hides his weaknesses nor covers up 
his shortcomings. One is tempted to do the 
same thing and close this book with the ac- 
count of Walther's death. 

But so much would remain unsaid. The 
necessity is apparent of saying something of 
Walther as a preacher, as a pastor, as a pro- 
fessor, as an editor and writer, as a mission- 
ary, as a friend and companion; of his rela- 
tions with other men of eminence in the 
kingdom of God; of his theological studies 
and position ; of his writings, which would in- 
clude not merely his books, but the many 
articles scattered in the various publications 
of the Missouri Synod. These should some 


day be collected and published in one com- 
plete edition of his works. A chapter might 
readily be devoted to each of these subjects. 
But it would carry us too far. We must con- 
tent ourselves with a few brief notes. They 
will suffice to show that Walther with right 
was carried to his grave "as a prince and 
great one in the kingdom of God." And 
here the tributes which his biographer, Guen- 
ther, collected with such affectionate care, be- 
sides his published letters, will again be of 
great help. 

''Walther," Guenther says, "was a great 
theologian." He might have said that it is 
difficult or impossible to think of him as be- 
ing anything else. Just as theology to him 
"is a wisdom from on high" ("eine Wels- 
lieit von oben her"} we are quoting from a 
splendid article on "Doctor C. F. W. 
Walther as a Theologian," written by his 
grateful pupil, Doctor Franz Piper, and 
printed in Lehre und Wehre, 1888 so 
Walther himself is a theologian "von ober 
her" a true Gottesgelehrter (a man 
"taught of God"). "The Holy Spirit alone 
makes D.Ds.," remarks Walther with refer- 
ence to a saying of Luther's, who so sharply 
distinguishes between the creation of "Doc- 
tor of Holy Scriptures" and "Doctors of 


doctor Carl 

Science, of Medicine, of Laws," etc. Doctor 
Piper then goes on to apply and illustrate 
Luther's famous axiom, "Oratio, Meditatio t 
Tentatio Faciunt Theologum" with quota- 
tions from his personal experience. Walther, 
he says, first makes the point that only a sin- 
cere Christian can be a true theologian, that 
an unconverted man may, at the most, be 
"a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." 
He then warns against the abuse of this 
truth, which prompts some sects to despise 
all learning. He insists upon diligent effort 
to acquire the most thorough theological 
training. He agrees with Melanchthon, who 
said, "An unlearned theology is an Ilias of 
evils." He urges that men like Chemnitz, 
Gerhard, Calov, aye, Luther himself, be- 
came great theologians not through their 
great natural gifts, but through their un- 
flagging diligence and unremitting applica- 
tion. Still, he refuses to overestimate mere 
intellectual and scientific training. Theol- 
ogy to him is more than a science, a Wissen- 
schaft. It is a divinely wrought "habitus," 
a practical ability and capability to do one 
certain thing, namely, by the teaching and 
preaching of the Holy Scriptures to make 
fallen, sinful men wise unto salvation 
through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Ac- 

cordingly, the true theologian is absolutely 
dependent upon the inspired word of God. 
It is for him to say, "Speak, Lord, for Thy 
servant heareth," and, having heard, to 
speak to others. 

These few sentences are far from being 
a synopsis of Doctor Piper's splendid article, 
but they will suffice to help us form an esti- 
mate of Walther as a theologian. 

He was a sincere, earnest Christian, a 
man who knowing himself to be a lost and 
condemned sinner, rested all his hope of sal- 
vation upon Jesus Christ, his Saviour. The 
living faith which saved him from despair dur- 
ing his student days at Leipzig, remained the 
sheet anchor of his soul. He never lost it. 
It is always in evidence. It shows itself even 
in such little things as the close of his let- 
ters, where he writes, "Your most humble 
fellow in trial and the kingdom," "Yours, 
longing for everlasting life," "Your closely 
united brother in Him who loved us unto 
death and is now seated on the throne to pour 
out upon us the blessings He has gained," 
"Your friend and brother in the Lord Jesus," 
"Your faithful father and intercessor with 
God." The fruits of the Spirit, the chief 
of which is faith, show themselves in what 
we ordinarily call little things, "love, joy, 


Doctor Carl 

peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, 
meekness, temperance." One must be rather 
intimately associated with a man to see them. 
All of Walther's associates testify to his 
spirituality and high-minded Christian char- 

He was a man of prayer. Oratio 
(prayer), is the first ingredient of Luther's 
recipe for the making of a theologian. For 
what Tertullian said of Christians especially 
applies to them; they are not born but made 
made by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of 
Prayer. Therefore, of all men, the theo- 
logian must "pray without ceasing." It is 
the very breath of his life. Here, again, 
Walther's letters are the best of proof that 
he cultivated the habit of prayer. They are 
full of little ejaculatory prayers, half uncon- 
scious little petitions and sighs. Even his 
written prayers, prepared for the opening of 
congregational and other meetings, a volume 
of which has been published, show that they 
were prayed before they were written. The 
other ingredient of Luther's recipe is Medita- 
tio (study). He was a thorough student, 
above all things of the Scriptures, the in- 
spired word of God. Doctor Piper dwells 
at length in the above quoted article on 
Walther's doctrine of inspiration. He says 


that Walther, "during his entire activity as 
a teacher, not only with fullest conviction 
stood for the old Church doctrine of inspira- 
tion, but designated the giving up of this doc- 
trine as the falling away in principle from 
Christianity." Next to the Scriptures he 
studied Luther and the Confessions. From 
the day when he first began to read his col- 
lected writings in his father's library and 
searched them again at the home of Pastor 
Keyl, at Frohna, when preparing for the 
Altenburg debate, down to the very end of 
his life, he studied Luther. He was thus 
well qualified to prepare a paper for the 
District Conference of Missouri on "The 
Fruitful Reading of Luther's Writings," 
which ends with this advice: "Man mache 
sick mit seiner Luther-ausgabe so bekannt, 
dass man jede Schrift ohne viel zeitrau- 
bendes Nachschlagen finden kann" ("One 
ought to make one's self so familiar with 
one's Luther edition, that one can find every 
writing without much time-robbing pag- 
ing") (Lehre und Wehre, 33, p. 305). 
The English is stiff , but his meaning is clear. 
"A pupil of Luther," he says of himself, 
"and, as I hope to God, a faithful pupil, I 
have only stammered after this prophet of 
the last world all that I have hitherto pub- 


Doctor Carl 

licly spoken and written." 

He was equally well read in the great 
teachers of the Church, especially the Luth- 
eran fathers of the sixteenth century, whom 
he regarded as standing much higher in 
Lutheran orthodoxy than the men of the sev- 
enteenth century. He is always quoting them. 
His edition of "Baier's Compendium," with 
critical notes and annotations, is proof suffi- 
cient of the enormous range of his reading 
and the thoroughness of his Meditatio. But 
he never slavishly followed any of them. 
He proved all things with the touchstone of 
the inspired word, keeping that which is 
good. While he, with great modesty, pre- 
ferred that they should speak, and quoted 
them because he felt that they said things 
better than he himself could say them, Doc- 
tor Piper is undoubtedly right when he says 
that "Walther, as respects spiritual experi- 
ence, theological learning, logical acumen, 
and the gift of presentation, certainly does 
not stand behind the most of our theologians, 
and, in our judgment, he surpasses many of 
them in these things." (Lehre und PPehre, 
33, p. 266.) 

Besides prayer and study, Luther says 
Tentatio (trial) is necessary for the making 
of a theologian. Scriver in his "Treasury 

of Souls," says it like this : "Small clocks only 
need small weights. But great clocks in 
high church towers need very heavy 
weights." In other words, great theologians 
like Paul, who had his thorn in the flesh, 
need an especially heavy load of trial. 
Walther had his. He was rich in tribula- 
tion. Sihler, whose ripened experience made 
him a shrewd observer, noticed it at their 
first meeting. He said that the expression 
of his face, although he was only thirty-five, 
was strangely aged, in all probability through 
the many and severe conflicts he had to en- 
dure. His early religious experience at 
Leipzig, his trials in his first congregation 
at Braunsdorf, the struggle which led up to 
the determination to emigrate, his relations 
with Stephan, the fearful disappointment at 
his hypocrisy, the accusations and suspicions 
of the people, the doubts which assailed him 
together with the other pastors and candi- 
dates, the jeers and contempt of the world, 
the privations and conflicts of his first years 
at Trinity congregation what a load it was 
for a high-minded soul with a more than 
sensitive conscience to carry. Then came the 
controversy with Grabau and the Buffalo 
Synod, with Loehe and the Iowa Synod, and, 
most bitter of all, the controversy within the 


Doctor Cart U&iltjer 

Synodical Conference. How these things af- 
fected him appears from a letter he wrote 
to his life-long friend, Doctor Franz De- 
litzsch, and quoted by the latter in his "Zeit- 
geschichtliche Gedanken," in the "Pilger aus 
Sachsen" : "Believe me, with my polemics 
I am very often in the position of Joseph, 
who spoke roughly unto his brethren, and 
then went into his chamber to weep out his 
heart, and only after he had washed his face 
again showed himself to the people." 

To this we must add the bodily weakness 
and infirmities which necessitated his seeking 
a cure in Europe, the care of all the churches 
which came upon him daily, the cares of fam- 
ily life and the boundless sympathy with 
which he entered into and shared the cares 
of others. Above all, there were the spirit- 
ual trials, the Anfechtungen, which at times 
threw him into deepest despondency, as 
during that most trying period after the un- 
masking of Stephan and before the Alten- 
burg debate. He was spared nothing. What- 
ever reproach came to the Missouri Synod 
came first to him. No wonder Doctor Sihler 
called him "unser General-kreuztraeger" 
(Our general crossbearer) . No wonder his 
favorite close to his letters was, "Your com- 
panion in tribulation and in the kingdom." 


An old friend of his tells how he once 
came to him, when Walther, with an almost 
tearful look and the saddest of expressions, 
greeted him with the words, "Oh, if only I 
might die!" He later asked Walther what 
had most helped him in his trials, and he 
said, "The holy communion." 

So there was no lack of tentatio, even as 
there was no lack of oratio and meditatio. 
The result was a theologian, a real man of 
God. Of course, there was a foundation to 
build on, for God had endowed him with 
splendid gifts of mind. Judicium and /- 
genium, Guenther calls them (how they 
love those precise Latin terms!) (judg- 
ment and insight), combined with a love 
of poetry and a feeling for beauty of form 
and expression; a wonderful memory, a 
strong will and a hatred of all duplicity and 
double dealing. With all his talent for or- 
ganization, he never sacrificed a truth or 
a principle in the interest of some move or 
arrangement which expediency might appear 
to suggest or demand. The compromises 
of petty Church politicians were most dis- 
tasteful to him, as they must be to every 
upright Christian man, and when he had 
once convinced himself of the truth of a 
doctrine or correctness of its application, he 


Doctor Carl 

was immovable. It was, therefore, but 
natural that he should have been accused 
of loving to rule and being unwilling to 
brook any criticism or contradiction. That 
his opinion should carry weight and author- 
ity, that his advice should be sought and val- 
ued, that he should be respected and honored 
as a teacher and leader, was only to be ex- 
pected. It would have been most strange if 
this were not the case. That he ever abused 
any authority he may have possessed, or re- 
fused to receive correction when mistaken, 
remains to be proved. What can be proved 
is this: Walther was a most humble Chris- 
tian. He earnestly sought to know his sins 
and weaknesses, and to struggle against them. 
Wherever he unwittingly offended or hurt 
any man, he was most eager to promptly 
admit his fault, making the fullest possible 
apology and seeking pardon. Nor can it 
be truthfully said that he could brook no 
contradiction. Any man who was associated 
with such independent characters as Wyne- 
ken, Sihler, Craemer, Lange and Fuer- 
bringer, was bound to meet with contradic- 
tion and criticism. But he not only accepted 
it from them. He humbly and cheerfully ac- 
cepted it from the most simple layman. On 
one occasion a Christian woman in a Michi- 

gan congregation directed his attention to a 
certain paragraph of his "Pastoral Theol- 
ogy?" warning him, if he acted otherwise, 
that he would be guilty of a grave error of 
judgment and do a great wrong. He grate- 
fully received the warning and acted upon 
the advice. He possessed none of that cold 
reserve almost unconsciously acquired by 
men whose very eminence compels them to 
stand alone. A cultured Christian gentle- 
man, he ever "let his moderation be known 
to all men," and was especially courteous and 
friendly with people who chanced to occupy 
a station inferior to his own. His more 
blunt Plattdeutsch friend, Wyneken, called 
him "dieser hoefliche Sachse" ("this polite 
Saxon"). "Please," he writes to his son-in- 
law, Keyl, "also greet for me most solicit- 
ously and respectfully your splendid house- 
friend, Mr. Westerward, who has become 
so dear to me, and again express to him my 
most sincere thanks for all the undeserved 
kindnesses shown me." Mr. Westerward 
had, without his knowledge, gotten him 
sleeping car tickets from New York to St. 
Louis. Then, for fear that he may have 
overlooked something, he adds, "Finally also 
greet your dear housemaid for me." If she, 
after the German custom, brushed his coat 


Poctor Carl tteattjer 

or handed him his hat, the "polite Saxon" 
would try to remember it for a lifetime. 
These gifts, sanctified by the spirit of prayer, 
disciplined by unremitting study of the word, 
ripened by Christian experience of trial, 
made him a great theologian in a Church 
of theologians. 

He thus needed no doctor's degree to be- 
come a "teacher of teachers" in the Church. 
He was that from the very first day of his 
activities as professor at the little school of 
the prophets which in 1850 was removed 
from Perry County to St. Louis, and which 
housed its six seminarists and ten students 
under one roof with their teacher. While 
the intimate relations thus induced could not 
possibly continue, he always remained the 
spiritual father of the entire student body, 
solicitous not merely to establish in them a 
clear, precise knowledge of Christian doc- 
trine, but, above all, to influence their hearts 
and consciences. Doctor Piper says : "Most 
of his students will doubtless testify that they, 
through his theological instructions, received 
rich furtherance in their spiritual life. All 
his teaching was at the same time both in- 
structive and edifying. One or the other of 
his pupils came to a living faith in Christ just 
in his lecture room." 


He ever insisted that there could be no 
true enlightening without conversion, and 
urged the necessity as a conditio sine qua non 
of deep personal piety and the striving 
after holiness of living. "The unconverted 
minister will not dare present too plain a 
picture out of God's word of a true or false 
Christian, for he must fear that his hearers 
will say, "You yourself are not like this," or 
"Just like you." This especially applies to 
his Lutherstunden, gatherings of the student 
body, held once a week apart from the regu- 
lar lectures, in which he talked to the young 
men as a father would to his sons. "O 
God," he prays, "preserve us a pious min- 

It has been said that the clergy of the 
Missouri Synod "always speak and move 
as one man," which can only mean that they 
have like convictions and act upon them. 
They owe this to the thoroughness of the 
theological training received at Walther's 
hands. It was impossible for a man to sit 
through his lectures on Dogmatics without 
thoroughly knowing the doctrines of his 
Church, just as it was impossible for a man 
to attend his lectures on Pastoral Theology 
without attaining some measure of pastoral 
wisdom and judgment. He had a marvel- 


Doctor Carl U&rtfljer 

ous gift for clear, precise statement. 
"Walther's own elucidations," says Doctor 
Piper, "as respects clearness and sharpness 
of conception, not only do not stand behind 
those of the old teachers, but Walther's 
presentation very often first makes the mat- 
ter real plain." 

Nor did his instructions cease when his 
students left the seminary. At the meetings 
of Synod, as at conference; in Lehre und 
Wehre and the Lutheraner, in theological 
opinions and a most voluminous correspond- 
ence, he, like a good householder, continued 
to bring forth out of the inexhaustible treas- 
ury of his rich knowledge of the truth things 
old and new for the edification and inspira- 
tion of his spiritual children. His one pur- 
pose in life was the glorifying of God 
through the upbuilding of the gospel king- 
dom of Jesus Christ, and he seldom failed 
to impart something of his spirit and zeal 
to every man privileged to sit at his feet. 
His zeal for missions sent his students out 
into the most distant lanes and byways of the 
great new field of the farthest west, and he 
never presented an appeal for help but what 
some young man arose and asked to be sent. 
Wherever they went, his writings followed 
them, and so the circle of his influence was 



widened until it extended far beyond the 
Church of America, to Europe, South Amer- 
ica, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and 
Africa. Letters, thanking him for his writ- 
ings, came to him from the most out-of-the- 
way places and from the strangest persons. 

"In writing he ever had but one interest, 
to really serve the Church with his labors. 
He never wrote merely for the sake of writ- 
ing, or to parade his gifts and learning, or 
for the pleasure of controversy and criti- 
cism," said the editor of the Gemeindeblatt 
(the official organ of the Wisconsin Synod) , 
"but the present actual needs of the Church, 
especially the Lutheran Church of our coun- 
try, determined the choice of the subjects 
which he treated. And great was the bless- 
ing which God laid upon Walther's faithful 
and industrious labors." Their extent can- 
not be measured merely by the books and ar- 
ticles published over his signature. The doc- 
trinal discussions of the Synods, for which he 
prepared theses, printed in voluminous re- 
ports, the sermonic material of the Homilet- 
ical Magazine, now in its forty-eighth year, 
the writings of other men printed at Con- 
cordia Publishing House, were all more or 
less suggested, inspired and influenced by 


Doctor Carl 

Walther was not only a great theologian 
and a great writer; he was also a great 
preacher. The estimate of Doctor A. 
Broemel, in his "Homiletic Character Pic- 
tures," has often been quoted. Still, it is so 
eminently just and so strikingly correct that 
the temptation to quote it again is irresist- 
ible. "Walther," he writes, "is as ortho- 
dox as John Gerhard, but also as fervent as 
a Pietist; as correct in form as a university 
or court preacher, and yet as popular as 
Luther himself. If the Lutheran Church 
would again spread its teachings among the 
people, then it will have to be as faithful and 
certain in doctrine and as inviting and timely 
in form as is the case with Walther. Walther 
is a model preacher in the Lutheran Church. 
How different the position of the Lutheran 
Church would be in Germany if many such 
sermons were held!" 

"The means through which Walther at- 
tains such impressive results, is, of course, 
not the form, but the content of his sermons. 
As a good Lutheran he preaches the whole 
word of God. He has no pet thoughts. He 
preaches, with most faithful conviction, the 
entire content of Scripture, and just this is 
the gratifying thing. He sacrifices not a jot 
or tittle of the Scriptures." 


"Again and again he comes back to justi- 
fication by faith alone." 

"Because he so loves to speak of reconcili- 
ation with God as the most blessed of myste- 
ries, and himself therein lives and moves, he 
for this reason so impressively urges that one 
suffer one's self to be reconciled. When he 
comes to speak of this his speech becomes 
very vivacious and insistent." 

"Naturally, the fountains of grace are for 
him the word and the sacraments alone. 
With immovable firmness he clings to the 

"Therefore he points all to the word; 
Here heaven is opened, the heart of God 

"Walther, however, does not weaken the 
necessity of sanctification." 

The Allgemeine Evany elisch-Lutheris eke 
Kirchenzeitung , of Leipzig, in its issue of 
June 22, 1887, said this: "With him one of 
the great ones of the Church of Christ is 
gone home, a man who was not only an epoch- 
making personality in the ecclesiastical his- 
tory of America, and there a pre-eminent 
leader and gatherer of the Lutherans, but 
whose activities were felt as a mighty inspira- 
tion by the Lutheran Church of all conti- 



Doctor Carl 

"As a preacher he distinguished himself 
through a warm heartiness, and often 
through a moving, gripping power, but he 
clothed his thoughts in a model form of clear, 
logical development. He was thoroughly 
doctrinal, still anything but doctrinaire; 
everything had its practical point. The two 
postils, of which the Gospelpostil received 
its eighth edition in eleven years, and 23,000 
copies of which were distributed, besides be- 
ing translated into Norwegian, show him to 
have been a theologian who out of ripe ex- 
perience and indefatigable study gave the 
congregation that which he himself had ex- 
perienced and upon which he rested his life. 
For him the central point of his sermons, 
as well as all his addresses and writings, 
is the Lutheran doctrine of justification. In 
Lutheranism he recognized the continuance 
of the Apostolic Church; it was, therefore, 
his aim to lead back the Lutheran Church to 
its starting point, to the doctrine of the 
Reformation drawn from the word of God." 

It would be most interesting to know how 
he prepared his sermons, what he read, how 
he wrote and memorized them, how much 
time he devoted to their preparation, etc. 
Perhaps Doctor Piper may be persuaded to 
write an article on Doctor C. F. W. Walther 

as a preacher. After having described him 
as a theologian this should certainly follow. 
Guenther has an interesting quotation on this 
from Pastor C. A. Brauer, and from several 
of his letters, among them a letter written to 
Wyneken in 1871. His letters to Stephanus 
Keyl (Vol. I, pp. 130 and 175), should also 
be read in this connection. Pastor Ottg 
Hanser, in his "Irrfahrten und Heimfahr- 
ten," also has an interesting note (p. 265). 
All testify that the preparation and delivery 
of his sermons cost him almost infinite pains 
and labor. He writes to Wyneken : "I am, 
as always, in great distress, for I must again 
preach" ; and to Pastor Brauer. "You go at 
the preparing of a sermon with pleasure; I, 
as a rule, with the anxiety of death." His 
own estimate of his sermons was by no 
means flattering to their author. He writes 
to Stephanus Keyl : "I have quite completed 
my sermon, but it so much displeases me that 
I wish I were not compelled to deliver it. 
With respect to sermons, one also again and 
again experiences: 'So then it is not of him 
that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but 
of God that showeth mercy.' Help to call 
upon God, that He may aid me at least not 
to spoil the festival; I, too, will not forget 


doctor Carl HMtfjer 

He speaks of spoiling a festival with a 
poor sermon. Hanser quotes him as saying 
of sermons for festival seasons: "Then a 
pastor dare not spare himself. Then he 
must give his congregation the very best that 
is in him, for the festival seasons are the 
harvest times of the Church." While he was 
still pastor of Trinity, it was most common 
for educated, unchurchly Germans to attend 
the services on festival days, not because they 
cared for the content of his sermons, but 
merely for the pleasure his beautiful lan- 
guage and perfect style afforded them. 

Sermon books are very short-lived. The 
shelves of most second-hand bookstores are 
crowded with antiquated sermons of for- 
gotten worthies. Walther's sermons are 
as fresh and timely to-day as they were fifty 
years ago. They will be read and studied 
when most of the sermon material put forth 
during the past century has found its inevita- 
ble way to the second-hand booksellers' 
shelves. For Walther was and will remain 
a prince of preachers. 

Chapter 26 

Delations luitlj Ottjcr .|Ekn 

"Luther and His Friends" is the title of 
a fascinating little book written by Pastor A. 
G. Frey, who describes the great reformer 
in his relations with other great men. 

A strong man always surrounds himself 
with strong men. This is a real test of char- 
acter, and one reason for our saying that "a 
man is known by the company he keeps." 
The man who kept company with the Elector 
Frederick, who refused the crown of the 
Holy Roman Empire; and John Frederick, 
the Confessor; with Melanchthon, the "Pre- 
ceptor of Germany"; with Bugenhagen, Cru- 
ciger, Jonas, Coelius and others, was never a 

Some day a similar book will be written, 
describing Walther in his relations with 
other men Loeber, Buenger, Brohm, Sihler, 
Wyneken, Fuerbringer, Craemer, Lochner, 
Schaller, Lange, Brauer, Fick, Schwan, Ot- 
tesen, Preus, Delitzsch, Kliefoth, Rudelbach, 
Harms, Marbach and Vehse. It, too, should 
make fascinating reading, if only the writing 
of it is not too long delayed, When the 


Doctor Carl Walter 

fathers have entered into their rest and the 
little intimate anecdotes, which so often more 
strikingly characterize a man than an elab- 
orate treatise, are forgotten, it will be too 

It is said that these fathers sometimes 
clashed ; not on questions of doctrine, but on 
questions pertaining to the organization and 
administration of Synod. Then their meet- 
ings extended far into the night. These meet- 
ings must have been battles royal, for "there 
were giants in those days." But Walther 
was not the man to permit these differences 
of opinion to disturb or mar the cordial re- 
lations of which he writes to Pastor Fick: 
"Your faithful friendship humbles me, for 
I too much feel that I am undeserving of 
it ; still I will pray God to graciously preserve 
it unto me." Nor did he hesitate to follow 
after a friend in order to prevent a possible 
estrangement. He tells Fick, excusing him- 
self for not having visited him, that he had 
used the one opportunity which offered to 
visit Fuerbringer, because he feared that 
"the difference which had arisen might be- 
come a dangerous break, and Fuerbringer, 
with his uncommon gifts, knowledge and ex- 
perience, be lost to our Church. I thus vis- 
ited him, and, by God's grace, all again 

ftelatimtS foitf) 0fl)er 

stands well. He is completely satisfied and 
reconciled." (Letters, Vol. I, p. 61.) This 
splendid trait of Christian character also ap- 
pears from other letters, e.g., his letter to 
Brauer (Vol. I, p. 172), and to Sihler (Vol. 
II, p. 1 24) . A man who can thus swallow 
his pride is uncommonly gifted with the 
grace of Christian humility. Guenther also 
describes Walther as being a most humble 
Christian, and illustrates this by pointing to 
expressions in his letters, e.g., his farewell 
letter to the congregation before leaving for 
Europe in 1860, and to his address of accept- 
ance when his degree of Doctor of Divinity 
was conferred upon him. He also points to 
his having refused to accept a dwelling 
erected for him on a small lot he owned near 
the college grounds, and insisted upon giving 
up the lot in order that the property might 
be sold and the money returned to the 
donors. Without criticising Guenther, it 
may be said that a stronger proof is the in- 
cident related in the same connection: It 
once happened that Walther had been some- 
what harsh to others, and hastened to make 
most humble and almost abject apologies. 
The pastor who relates the incident said to 
Walther that he had admitted too much. 
Walther replied ; "God grant it may not harm 


Doctor Carl f&altfier 

the person offended. I would rather admit 
too much than too little; for my only desire 
is to be saved." A man of Walther's stand- 
ing and influence who possesses this disposi- 
tion, may truthfully be said to be humble. 

His humility prompted him not only gen- 
erously but most unstintedly to recognize and 
appreciate the gifts and attainments of 
others. How vividly he describes Buen- 
ger's gifts as a missionary! With what ap- 
preciation he speaks of Craemer! How he 
urges Fuerbringer, because of his peculiar 
qualifications, to write a work on Lutheran 
Apologetics for people of culture ! How he 
praises Pick's literary gifts! How unquali- 
fiedly he admits his indebtedness to Doctor 
Vehse's Protestations-schrift at the Alten- 
burg debate ! His tribute to Charles Porter- 
field Krauth, at the occasion of his death, is 
printed in the January number of Lehre und 
Wehre, for 1883. Walther writes : "There 
has just come to us the affecting news that 
Doctor Charles Porterfield Krauth, at about 
noon, January 2, fell asleep, aged fifty-nine 
years. Herewith a heavy blow is fallen, not 
only upon the General Council, to which the 
deceased belonged, but at the same time upon 
the whole American Lutheran Church. For 
the blessed one (der Selige) was indeed the 


delation* toitt) Otter 

most prominent man in the English Lutheran 
Church of this country, a man of unusual 
learning, at home not less in the old than in 
the new theology, and, what is the chief 
thing, in hearty accord with the doctrine of 
his Church, as he had learned to know it; a 
noble man without guile." After briefly 
pointing to Doctor Krauth's public confes- 
sion of faith and solemn retraction of any 
and all previous erroneous statements (Luth- 
eran and Missionary, July 13, 1865), Wal- 
ther goes on to say: "As everywhere, espe- 
cially in the circle of his activities, the visible 
fruit of his continued, undaunted and clear tes- 
timony and indefatigable labor, particularly 
within the English Lutheran Church, will be 
the permanent legacy which he, at his de- 
parting from the Church militant, left her; 
thus he at the same time with this retraction, 
even as once Augustine, has left an imperish- 
able monument of the uprightness of 
his conviction. We adore the inscrutable 
government of God in this death. It was 
our judgment that the Lord would through 
this highly gifted instrument just at this mo- 
ment bless our American Lutheran Church." 
Much might be said of his relations with 
Ottesen and Preus, of the Norwegian Synod ; 
with Doctor Delitzsch, the great Hebrew 


doctor Carl l^alttjer 

scholar, and with Doctor Marbach, his op- 
ponent at Altenburg. But that must be left 
to the man who writes the book on "Walther 
and his Friends." 

Some men make friends without being able 
to keep them. Usually selfishness or self- 
interest is the explanation of their loss. 
Walther kept his friends, which is but 
another way of saying that he was one of 
the most unselfish and disinterested of men. 
The poverty and privations of his early min- 
istry at Trinity congregation were borne 
without a word of complaint. In his great- 
est poverty he always stood ready to extend 
the most generous Christian hospitality to 
any of the brethren who might be in need. 
The three chairs and one table with which 
he set up housekeeping are characteristic. 
There was one for Emilie, one for himself, 
and one for the unbidden but ever welcome 
guest. Lochner, who, because of his testi- 
mony was compelled to leave his congrega- 
tion in 1 846, and who was promptly invited 
by Walther to his home, says : "It was hard 
for me to be compelled to so long use his 
so cordially offered and extended hospitality, 
because I saw how frugally things often went 
with him." Then he goes on to tell how 
Walther, lacking money to buy fuel, could not 

Delation* toitf) O^tfjer 

heat the one of the three rented rooms he used 
as a study, and did his work in the combina- 
tion family, living and sleeping room. The 
few rooms he occupied with his family in the 
first college building were not much more 
commodious nor comfortable. He here, for 
full five months, entertained a German theo- 
logian with his family at a time when his 
table, at which several students also regu- 
larly sat, more than once lacked bread, until 
a baker of his congregation, seeing the cir- 
cumstances, made full and abundant pro- 
vision. To ease Lochner's mind, he told him : 
"We esteem it an undeserved honor to be 
privileged to receive a servant of Jesus 
Christ and our dear Church driven away for 
the sake of the truth." (Letters, Vol. I, pp. 
25-35.) He comforted the German theo- 
logian by telling him that it was exceedingly 
important for him to become thoroughly ac- 
quainted with American conditions before 
accepting a call (which was slow in coming), 
and that he thanked God who had given him 
grace and counted him worthy to serve him. 
The essence of hospitality does not consist 
in the abundance with which a man decks 
his table. It rather consists in the spirit with 
which he shares a crust of bread. 

At the same time Walther declined to ac- 


doctor Carl ftealtfier 

cept one cent of remuneration for his many 
books and writings. Had he done so (and 
who can deny him the right?) he might have 
left a considerable fortune to his family, for 
his writings brought the Synod, through 
Concordia Publishing House, thousands 
upon thousands of dollars. With supreme 
disinterestedness he placed all of his talents 
fully and completely into the service of the 
Church, and thus contributed materially to 
the support and development of its missions 
and educational institutions. The short note 
on the title page of his "Gospelpostil," 
"Any profit flows into the Synodical treas- 
ury," applied all the way through. For him- 
self he asked only a frugal living, which was 
provided by the payment of a moderate sal- 
ary to him as pastor and professor. Out of 
this he regularly gave fixed amounts for cer- 
tain purposes, and made most generous con- 
tributions in response to special appeals. 
Some people consider it a disgrace to die 
rich. Walther seems to have considered it 
a disgrace for a servant of the Church to 
even attempt to gain riches. He was content 
to depend for his few needs fully and with- 
out reserve upon the Christian liberality of 
the people whom he so unselfishly served. 

The faithfulness and loyalty of his friend- 

Relation* toiti) <^rtjer 

ship, like his generosity, knew no bounds. 
This is the true explanation of the statement 
sometimes made that he was no judge of 
character. He was often deceived and some- 
times betrayed. But this did not embitter 
him or rob him of confidence in his fellow- 

The following statement is characteristic. 
Speaking of a man who had most grossly de- 
ceived him, and whom he had loyally de- 
fended as long as it was possible to do so, 
Walther writes: 

"You ask, dear reader, 'Do we regret hav- 
ing received the unfortunate Preuss as long 
as we could do so?' We reply, 'No, we do 
not regret it. It is the manner of Chris- 
tians to suffer their love to be deceived but 
never their faith. True, in experience, mis- 
trustful, suspicious souls are, as a rule, sus- 
tained because men are so evil; but the mis- 
trustful are not for this reason right, be- 
cause love, as long as it can, believes only the 
best of its neighbor.' " (Lutkeraner, Vol. 28, 
p. 75.) 

"There was in his character a peculiar 
combination of softness and hardness," says 
a writer in the Allgemeine Evang. Luth. 
Kirchenzeitung. In this he was like Luther, 
who in one moment could hurl defiance at 


j&octor Carl t^altfjer 

pope and emperor, include Duke George and 
the prince of darkness himself, and in 
another sit down at his table to indulge him- 
self in the intimate chats recorded by Cor- 
datus, Lauterbach and Aurifaber. Most 
tolerant of any innocent weakness or help- 
lessness, he was quick to resent any duplicity 
or injustice, especially if it worked injury to 
others. When it came to defending the re- 
vealed truth of God's holy word, he stood 
like a granite crag. The slightest attempt 
to contradict or call into question the great 
fundamental doctrines of the Church immedi- 
ately called forth his most uncompromising 
opposition. The sacrifice of a truth or the 
compromise of a principle was a simple im- 

On the other hand, this man who, when 
occasion required, could, like Joseph, speak 
so roughly with his brethren, could be the 
most delightful of companions. His perfect 
courtesy and polished manners, his wide 
reading and rich experience, his knowledge 
of music and literature, his refined taste for 
all things beautiful, combined to make him 
a wonderful entertainer, the soul and life of 
any gathering at which he might happen to 
be. His kindness and deference to others ap- 
pears in almost every letter he ever wrote. 

Relation* toirt) <&t|)er 

Like Luther, he was a lover of the little 
things of nature. He kept a bird in his room 
which he cared for himself, and whenever he 
was compelled to leave home for any length 
of time, most solicitously commended to the 
care of his family. This bird, together with 
his Scklafrock and long pipe, remain in the 
memory of every student who ever went to 
Walther's study to read him a sermon for 
criticism. In a letter to his son Ferdinand, 
he describes the coming of spring with its 
beautiful green, its buds and flowers and its 
joyous choir of winged songsters (Vol. I, p. 
218). He writes to his wife, who, with their 
children at the outbreak of war, had left St. 
Louis to stay in the country, and gives her 
a very complete report on the state of their 
home kitchen garden, including a berry patch 
on an adjoining lot, their cow and Frau 
Hefele's butter making. 

These traits of character, his Christian 
humility, generosity and unselfishness, his 
broad charity, fairness and noble disinter- 
estedness, his uprightness, integrity and faith- 
fulness, his hatred of all duplicity and politi- 
cal manipulations, his unfailing courtesy and 
refined cordiality of manner, determined his 
relations not only with his more intimate 
friends, but with men in the wider circles 


doctor Carl D^altfjcr 

of Church life in America and Europe. To 
again use his own figure, he did indeed, like 
Joseph, at times speak roughly with his err- 
ing brethren. But, like Joseph, he never 
forgot that they were his brethren, children 
of the same father. It might be necessary 
for him to sit at a separate table, but he did 
not sit apart by preference or without de- 
ploring the necessity of such separation. And 
when he sent them good things from his own 
table, he did this not to show his superior 
richness, but rather to express his ardent 
wish that they all as brethren might together 
share in the riches with which God had so 
abundantly blessed him. 

This is the spirit that prompts Walther 
to write to Sihler of his longing for the most 
careful preservation of catholicity and the 
avoidance of every kind of separatism. (Vol. 
I, p. 6.) He writes in a similar strain to 
Brohm: "I must admit to you that I have 
lost all timidity for the sake of dead ortho- 
doxists to keep in view the Quilibet praesum- 
Itur bonus in the Lutheraner. May un- 
reasoning zealots, proud, carnal watchmen of 
Zion, continue to imagine that I am capitu- 
lating with the errorists. I cannot allow this 
to prevent my dealing gently with the youth 
Absalom. It must be kept well in mind how 


delation* tottf) <&$er 

little opportunity most so-called Lutheran 
ministers have had here to learn the true 
doctrine and its history; if one immediately 
casts them aside one completely closes all 
access to their hearts; if they, however, see 
that one does not at once impute obdurate- 
ness to them, they are certainly much more 
ready to hear. America is plainly a field 
where many a plant may yet prosper if it be 
carefully tended." (Vol. I, p. 21.) 

He was thinking of individual pastors, 
congregations and groups of congregations. 
Let us give his words a wider application. 
America is indeed a field where many a plant 
may prosper. But the most marvelous of 
all plants is the tender shoot so solicitously 
tended by Walther, the Church of the pure 
word and unadulterated sacraments, the 
Church whose motto he took for his own 
when he lived and labored and died, "Soli 
Deo Gloria." By God's gracious leadings it 
is now become a mighty tree. May this brief 
and imperfect sketch of the faith and life 
of the "true Peace-Theologian," Carl Ferdi- 
nand Wilhelm Walther, inspire us who are 
its children, to faithfully labor and pray for 
the magnificent goal he set himself, "the final 
realization of one united Evangelical Luth- 
eran Church of North America." 




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