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Monday, March 19, 2018

Fick 10: Atheist free-thinkers; Lutheran Martyrs; “Missouri Nightingale” sings a parody – Old Lutheran laughter!

      This continues from Part 9 (Table of Contents in Part 1), publishing an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's biography of Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick. —
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Steven Rowan
      I was not expecting to meet with such a Lutheran pastor who would throw himself, anonymously, into the limelight so prominently.  There is a lot of history that surrounds St. Louis, Missouri during this period – names like Heinrich Boernstein, Joseph Pulitzer, etc. – great names in the eyes of the world.  Much has been written by modern historians such as Dr. Steven Rowan and others, especially about the radical German journalists.  And along with their newspapers came quite an attack on Christianity, especially by Franz Schmidt, using a blasphemous hoax originating from Germany concerning an alleged "scroll of parchement" found by an  "Abyssinian trading company at Alexandria, in a former monastery ... derived from the Essene sect".  Walther was well aware of these attacks as I blogged earlier.  But what practically all historians, including those of Concordia Historical Institute, are not aware of is that the major popular parody against these attacks was written anonymously by… C. J. Hermann Fick.  However our biographer Walther certainly knew…
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This translation by BackToLuther (BTL), taken from Der Lutheraner, Vol. 42, Nos. 14 (July 15, 1886) to 18 (September 15, 1886). All underlining is emphasis from original. All highlighting by BTL. — This portion:– vol. 42, #17, p. 129-130.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 10, cont'd from Part 9)

Fick saw, recalling the fight of the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:27.), that against the loud-mouthed new Goliath Schmidt, biting ridicule is the only victorious weapon. So Fick wrote a pamphlet with the following title [BTL: the author Fick is unknown to WorldCat, CSL or CHI]:
Fick's book:
Carnal-Religion of
the Free Men
Important Historical Revelations About the Carnal-Religion of the Free Men. According to an old manuscript found in Alexandria from the Order of the Sadducees. A curious side piece to that of Mr. Fr. Schmidt of St. Louis,
Hans Sachs
Wittenberg Nightingale

[page 129, col. 3] Mo., who in his Free Paper [‘Freien Blättern’] shared ‘historical revelations about the true mode of the death of Jesus’. Informed by a friend of Archaeology and Enlightenment. Highly funny to read. St. Louis, Mo. 1851.”  In this pamphlet, Fick reports in the preface that according to that old discovered document, the Sadducees had once founded a “Free Men's Society”, held a meeting to strengthen each other in their struggle against all religions. This was documented in the protocol of this assembly in rhyming verse [Knittelversen, see Hans Sachs, and here] in the form of a drama.

All the people appearing in it carry animal names and signify particular outstanding persons who at that time resonated with Schmidt. Schmidt himself appears in the pamphlet for the sake of his ape-religion under the name “Baboon”, the editor of the “Brutalization Organ” [“Vertierungsorgans”], the then editor of the “Anzeigers des Westens” [“Gazette of the West”, Heinrich Börnstein], who is referred to as the “Instructor of Blasphemy”, appears under the name “Fox”, the rationalist preacher from among the then large influx of them to St. Louis under the name “Hamster” etc.
And since it had been reported shortly before that a portion of many ladies were moved to share in the flourishing of the Free Men’s Society [“Freie-Männer-Vereins”]  and to appear at their meeting, so Fick puts in his drama finally the “Choir of Geese”.  Fick was not mistaken. A few weeks after his pamphlet appeared, it was out of print and a new, boosted edition had to be arranged. *) Not only did the Christians in the city read the booklet at the time, but we may say it was also devoured by the unbelievers. It was almost circulating from house to house. In all public places
*) Even United-Evangelicals and Catholics, in cities in which the religious scoffers lead the great talk, were anxious for reprints of Fick's pamphlet for their circles; and still in 1859 the Lutheran youth club in Baltimore brought the book back again and tried especially to put it into the hands of Lutheran youths. And everywhere this satire proved to be the best weapon against the seduction arts. Even then the atheists used these especially to draw the youths into their nets, since the booklet castigates atheism for what it is, a ridiculous delusion of all reason, scourged with bubbling jokes.

[page 130, col. 1] it’s meaning was discussed. And the effect was not only that all readers laughed heartily, but that – and this was undoubtedly the main fruit – the blasphemers themselves were the object of general laughter. The “Free Men's Society” now lost more and more of its attraction and Mr. Franz Schmidt, who did not consider any other kind of joke in addition to the madness, not only did not dare grumble against Fick's joke, but also had not long after, from a lack of subscribers, to shut down his editorial office. In the Der Lutheraner of September 28, 1852 [p. 23] it is reported about the “Free Pages”: “The publisher of the same himself announced before long that, as the “Pages” had covered the first half of their first volume, he must stop. He had then  turned to the local society of the ‘Free Men’ for moral support, which had solemnly decided on this support, but (probably for lack of this) they let it pass with this decision. So finally only the Anzeiger des Westens had adopted the poor ‘Pages’, but in a short time, with the publisher, lost the sum of a thousand dollars. If the other public is as little eager to be enlightened as the 'Free Men', then atheism in the West will soon no more ‘Pages’ (but hopefully its familiar fruits) produce, the gazette will in that case close down. As we hear, the ‘Free Men’ may no longer read the paper in vain because the publisher's simple principle ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for perhaps tomorrow we are dead, and after death everything is over’ – has already been understood by these gentlemen from the first number and they hope to be able to develop the whole system practically and theoretically from this principle, even without teacher assistance. In addition, the gentlemen 'Free Men' themselves have become divided among themselves and make mutually bad compliments, and indeed so that it seems as if both parties are right.” —

Fick's pamphlet was apparently devastating to atheism since, and indeed especially for this reason, it was such that hardly anyone could read it without tears. But here we do not mean tears that would strike one out of emotion, but tears that, as is well known with a certain degree of laughter, even pour out with irresistible force. Perhaps it would be good if Fick's parody written with an incomparable joke would be reissued now after 35 years. As is well known, there are still enough students of Darwin who regard themselves as enlightened, and yet in their madness regard the monkey theory as high wisdom, even as it degrades mankind and reduces man to a brute.

Incidentally, while here in Bremen our tireless Fick also began another work of writing, perhaps his most urgent, and indeed a work of peace. In 1853 he published the first issue of a larger work entitled The Martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and completed the same in 1856. The local Lutherans were astonished to find that not only the ancient Church, but also the Evangelical-Lutheran Church had not only the few known martyrs, but also a whole cloud of martyrs to show for her pure apostolic doctrine.  These were in almost all the countries of Europe, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Spain, in Italy, in France, in England, in Scotland, in [page 130, col. 2] Bohemia, in Poland, and even in America. How much these histories of the deaths of these martyrs by their confession of the pure Lutheran faith from all lands has contributed to the reinforcement of the faith of local Lutherans, only God knows. When these appeared, it was evident that they awakened the spirit of a joyous confession of the doctrine of Lutheran Church of the Reformation by the thousands. The booklets were finally collected into a two-volume book series; the first volume (comprising VIII and 232 pages in large octave of tight printing) appeared in 1854, the second (XIII, 204 pages) (Google Books incomplete) in 1856. For each martyr's story, the exact literary sources from which it is taken are given.
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      No other historian has recorded the popularity that Fick's parody attained against the “Free Men” atheists, only C.F.W. Walther.  I have taken the time to produce the German text of Fick's parody of Franz Schmidt and the Free-Thinkers.  Starting at the half-way point in the following document is a very rough English translation from Google Translate:

Direct access to the above Google Doc available  >> here  <<. 
Would to God someone from Germany or Pastor Joel Baseley or Matthew Carver would properly translate this wonderful, humorous parody by Fick!  How I love to laugh with Walther!
      After he had to shut down his newspaper, the atheist free-thinker Franz Schmidt met an unhappy end in Cuba which was recorded in Steven Rowan's translation of Boernstein's Memoirs, p. 235:
“As a Protestant [!] he could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery of Matanzas. His money, clothing, books and everything he had brought from St. Louis were confiscated and kept by the royal treasury, despite the protests of the American consul. This was because Spanish law assigned to the Treasury goods of all foreigners who died in Cuba.”
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      I have previously blogged on Fick's magisterial work on the Lutheran Martyrs.  I wonder now that Fick may have gotten many suggestions for his subjects from… C.F.W. Walther.  —  In the next Part 11...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fick 9: Walther's doctrine of Church!; Atheist attacks

      This continues from Part 8 (Table of Contents in Part 1), publishing an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's biography of Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick. —
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      Walther practically startles us as he approvingly describes our Fick as a “foe of all priestly types”, confirming once again that he (Walther) was the greatest theologian since Martin Luther to highlight the importance of “the spiritual priesthood of all believers”.  —  After learning of a change of pastorate, his marriage, and another writing for Der Lutheraner, we are then introduced to the blasphemous hoax (from Germany) capitalized on by atheist free-thinkers in St. Louis.  And our Fick is primed to step onto the wider stage to defend Christianity.
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This translation by BackToLuther (BTL), taken from Der Lutheraner, Vol. 42, Nos. 14 (July 15, 1886) to 18 (September 15, 1886). All underlining is emphasis from original. All highlighting by BTL. — This portion:– vol. 42, #16 & 17, p. 122-123, 129.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 9, cont'd from Part 8)

So new now was much of what our beloved Fick heard and saw over here (who of course came from the state church), so soon he convinced himself not only that he had found here a church fellowship independent of the State, which, both in intention of doctrine as well as practice was strictly established in accordance with Biblical principles; but from then on he was able to thank God, even to his death, with all his soul, for having led him into a church of this very form. Believing in the Holy Scriptures as the Word of the Great God, and recognizing the symbolic books of our Church as the golden confession of the true Church of all time, the zeal of the Missouri Synod was to him for purity and unity in doctrine and practice not something repulsive, but rather it seemed to him the necessary seal of a true visible church whose member he wanted to be.

And since he had always been a foe of all priestly types from the beginning, the doctrine of our synod on the sovereignty of true Christians as the spiritual priesthood and of the Christian congregation as the original owner of all church power in their living faithful members seemed to him to be one the most precious gems of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.

As soon as Fick had returned home from the synodical assembly, he therefore wrote in the fire of first love [page 123, col. 1] those four glorious “Discussion of Two Lutherans on the Constitution of the Church”, which can be found in numbers 22 to 25 of the third year of our Der Lutheraner. [Baseley #22, #25]
On May 29, 1847 at the festival of Trinity Fick was ordained before his congregation in New Melle with commitment to the symbolic books of our church. He was  ordained by the blessed Fr. Bünger with the assistance of Schieferdecker, and solemnly introduced into his office. At that time, the congregation consisted of 60 families, mostly from the parishes of Melle and Buer in Osnabrück, who settled there and formed a Lutheran congregation.
After spending a year alone, solitary and alone, in great blessing, Fick experienced the truth of the divine Word: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). He became engaged therefore through Mr. Andreas Langbeins, a faithful member of the local Lutheran congregation, to his eldest daughter  Miss Henriette Langbein, and was blessed in marriage to her in the local Immanuel Church on May 10, 1848. From this marriage six children were born, of which, however two of them preceded their father into eternity in their early childhood. The children who have survived are two sons, both doctors of medicine, and two grown unmarried daughters.
Fick would, however, only lay the foundation in New Melle. In fact, in 1850 he received a call from a small congregation in Bremen near St. Louis, which consisted of only eight voting and almost entirely poor members, and a call which he felt to have penetrated to his conscience. Just at Bremen, at that time a suburb of St. Louis, a large German population retreated, so that even then it had the reputation that this city would become almost purely German. In addition, at that time rationalism, indeed atheism, was spreading, whose victims the Germans of Bremen seemed to want to become, unless a Lutheran congregation were founded here. Fick had the correct opinion that under certain circumstances a small congregation could be more important than a larger one, and that one had to take into consideration the future of a congregation if comparisons were to be made. *)
Thus Fick left his considerably larger congregation with their consent and did not care that in Bremen he could be granted a much lower salary and a much more limited house than his beloved New Melle had granted him. By the way, despite the small size of the new congregation, he had here more work instead of less than in New Melle, as his preaching office in Bremen was connected with a small, but still with a city-wide education office. **) With great loyalty now Fick here managed his new office quietly. He also saw his work crowned with God's blessing. The small congregation grew, internally and externally, albeit slowly but visibly and steadily. At the same time our Fick remained a hardworking contributor to Der Lutheraner.  From that time comes, among other things, the
*) Already a year ago, that Bremen congregation that started out so small contained 236 voting members and 1428 souls, and is currently the second largest Evangelical Lutheran congregation of St. Louis.
**) Already one year ago, the Bremen congregation had a four-class school organization with four teachers and 378 schoolchildren.

[page 129, col. 2] excellent essay “The Wittenberg Concord, Example of True Union”, which can be found in 1848, volume 4,  No 18, May 2, and No. 19, May 16. [Baseley translation, p. 139-141, 148-150.]
Franz Schmidt
“Free Men’s Society”

At that time, an atheist newspaper appeared in Bremen, which neighbored
St. Louis, under the title: “Free Paper. An organ for religious education. Published and edited by Franz Schmidt.” [Freie Blätter, WorldCat here and here] Blaspheming all saints, this so-called “Free Paper” set itself to the special task of proving that the Four Gospels of the New Testament are concoctions of a later time, and that the history of Christ contained in them is nothing but miserable inventions and fables. The so-called “Free Congregation” [Freie Gemeinde, search “Free Gemeinden” in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 2007], which had just been founded in St. Louis and the “Free Men’s Society” [Freie-Männer-Verein, search “Verein Freier Männer” in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 2007] at first mustered everything to spread the “Paper” among the Germans of St. Louis and Bremen. Now immediately Der Lutheraner [BTL: the “Old Lutherans” in St. Louis; see e.g. here. here. here.] stood up against the “Free Paper” and irrefutably proved with scientific reasons the groundlessness of Franz Schmidt's outrageous assertions in many lengthy articles.  

But when in the “Free Paper” readers were fooled that recently was found by an Abyssinian trading company at Alexandria, in a former monastic monastery, a scroll of parchment, derived from the Essene sect and containing reliable "historical revelations about the real mode of death of Jesus" [WorldCat], Fick realized that it was useless to disprove the miserable blasphemy with scientific weapons; for Schmidt's readers did not read such refutations, but also took the ridiculous allegations thereof for irrefutable evidence that the whole of Christianity is apparently built on nothing but lies and deceit.
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      There was a similar newspaper to Schmidt's Freie Blätter that was printed in Berlin Germany 3 years before (1848) edited by Adolf Glassbrenner, another German radical (full view in HathiTrust here).  I wonder that Schmidt took the name for his newspaper from this other German radical.  In Steven Rowan's translation of Henry Boernstein's Memoirs of a Nobody p. 232, the following additional information is given on Schmidt:
“Using the code name Theseus, he corresponded with the Communist Party Central Committee in Brussels while in St. Louis.”
There is no USA Wikipedia article on this Franz Schmidt (1818-1853), the political figure of both Germany and America, although there are others (here and here) with the same name.  But judging by the extensive German Wikipedia article on him, it almost seems that Germany now reveres this Franz Schmidt, although it expelled him in 1848.

Walther knew all about Communism and Socialism and their attacks on Christianity. He was asked by his St. Louis congregation in 1878 to give lectures on these ideologies which were subsequently published under the title Communismus und Socialismus.  There have been other writings against these but no one else presents the pure spiritual defense against them like Walther. The English translation of this work is still sold today here. I am considering publishing an improved edition of this translation since our modern world practically falls head-over-heels towards these ideologies.  — We are about to learn the rest of the story on Franz Schmidt, and a humorous defense against his blatant attacks on Christianity… in the next Part 10.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fick 8: Congregation is free, supreme authority– New Melle, Mo.; C.S. Meyer's poor history

      This continues from Part 7 (Table of Contents in Part 1), publishing an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's biography of Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick. —
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      After weeks of translating this biography, and nearing the finish of it, I marveled at how detailed it was, at how it strengthened my faith (but see below for an alternate view).  —  We discover in this portion where New Melle, Missouri is.  I wonder if New Melle will today hear the Christian message of its first pastor?  And what a message he brought to them!  Will today's LC-MS hear the Christian doctrine concerning a Christian congregation?
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This translation by BackToLuther (BTL), taken from Der Lutheraner, Vol. 42, Nos. 14 (July 15, 1886) to 18 (September 15, 1886). All underlining is emphasis from original. All highlighting by BTL. — This portion:– vol. 42, #16, p. 121-122..
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 8, cont'd from Part 7)

In March of the same year [1847], a public appeal of the German Evangelical Lutheran congregation at New Melle, St. Charles Co., Mo., appeared in a local political paper in which those who were inclined to become their preacher were called upon to get in touch. Now that Fick was here to wait for a job in office, he could not shake off the thought of whether that call coming into his hands might not be a hint from God for him. He therefore answered. The letter of Fick has been preserved by the congregation at Neumelle and has been kindly sent to us by the present preacher, Pastor Matushka, for use in this biography. It was written on March 2, 1847 and, with the omission of the introduction and the conclusion, reads as follows:
“For the many souls who are here in North America, it is certainly of the utmost necessity for an evangelical Lutheran church to hold fast to God's words and Lutheran doctrine if they are not to fall into the hands of the Methodists and other erring teachers, as unfortunately happened here and there. That is why it is the sacred duty of a [page 122, col. 2] Lutheran preacher to teach God's Word pure and clear, so that the souls are built up in the most holy faith in which they are faithfully educated by their parents and teachers, and thus, with God's help, above all are preserved from error and disunity. If a church is so united in doctrine and in faith, then it will certainly resist victoriously the approaches and conversion attempts of the sectarians, and will grow and increase, and flourish in all respects with God's help.

“But yet another evil often threatens to split and destroy Evangelical Lutheran congregations, in that often unseen people creep into the sacred office of the preacher, who then often give great offense by obvious heresies or by a shameful way of life. There it is now a proper grace of God in that our new fatherland is a free country, and that here the most complete freedom of conscience prevails. Therefore, if a preacher gives an outrage, then the church has not only the right, but according to God's Word also the duty to relieve such an unworthy one of his office. In general, the freedom of conscience is such a precious and glorious good that it is to be wished that all preachers and congregations seek to preserve it seriously, so that they do not, as is the case in some parts of Germany, become devices for the bondage of men.
“The proper constitution of a church, on the other hand, is the one that follows the Word of Christ: one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren”. [Matt. 23:8] Therefore, when a church calls a preacher, he receives from the church the right and the duty to administer the sacred ministry, that is to distribute the sacraments, to practice pastoral care, to visit and comfort the sick and the troubled, and to preach the Word of God and the Lutheran doctrine. And then it is a precious thing that we have the small Lutheran Catechism and the Augsburg Confession, in which the pure doctrine of God's Word is expressed so simply and clearly that every Lutheran Christian has in it a certain guideline for his faith.
But as far as the administration of the congregation is concerned, the institutions and other things that serve the good of the church, no individual has the right to force an Evangelical Lutheran congregation into anything, because the congregation is free and has the supreme authority. [oberste Gewalt] Therefore, all the members of the congregation, as well as the leaders and preachers, have the right to vote and to discuss the affairs of the congregation in fraternal fellowship, with the majority of the votes being decided because that is the most just.
“Some churches contract with their preacher for a period of time, half a year, or a year, believing that this is the best way to protect themselves against bad preachers. But I frankly confess to you that it is against my conscience to be accepted by a congregation for a certain time. For if a preacher is hired for a certain time by a church, he is not a properly appointed preacher before God, but a hireling. Such a one, as the Lord Christ says, does not respect the sheep, John 10:13, and does not serve the church for God's sake, but for the sake of money. He does not truly love his church, but as soon as he can get a better job that brings in more money, becomes faithless to his congregation. And the congregation is also at a great disadvantage, because if they hire a preacher for a certain time and [page 122, col. 3] makes a contract with him, it may be easy for the preacher to give offense immediately afterwards, by heresy or by a bad way of life, and that then the congregation must continue to maintain such a person for a long time, during which time he can do much harm. Nor does the church benefit from a hired preacher, because he can have no love for his congregation and for his holy vocation, since he administers his office only for money and not out of love for God and for his brothers. On the other hand, according to God's Word and Luther's doctrine, when a church calls a preacher for so long as he faithfully and conscientiously administers his holy ministry in God's Word, then God takes him either through death, or with permission the congregation is called into another sphere of activity.
“If the congregation wishes me to give an “election” sermon, I ask that I may appoint a Sunday on which to come to New Melle. Also, I would like to have more accurate information about the circumstances of the congregation. At the same time, I cordially ask you to reply to my letter as soon as possible, as I would like to have speedy certainty, as other congregations turn to preachers here as well.”
Based on this letter, the congregation invited the candidate Fick to deliver an “election” sermon on the following Palm Sunday. This happened as well, whereupon Fick was unanimously chosen by the congregation to be their preacher and pastor. But since many preparations were required by the congregation to receive their preacher, it was agreed by both sides that the introduction to the office should take place only on Sunday after Pentecost. This corresponded to Fick's wishes to a great extent, since the opening of the first annual assembly of the Missouri Synod in Chicago was scheduled for April 24 of the current year, in which Fick eagerly wished to take part. This also happened to his, and the whole synod’s, great joy.
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Jack Cascione
"Reclaim News"
      When I first translated Fick's pronouncement concerning the Christian congregation, I was a little stunned at how blunt it sounded – I had to double check the German original to be sure that I was translating it correctly. How similar it sounded to Jack Casione's shibboleth for the doctrine that C.F.W. Walther taught.  How hard this is to swallow by even the most conservative teachers and leaders in today's LC-MS who would claim that this is not the teaching of Walther or Pieper since they also strongly defended the divine institution of the Ministry.  But note well! This biography was written by none other than C.F.W. Walther himself in the pages of his Der Lutheraner concerning his “favorite pastor”.
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Carl S. Meyer
LCMS Historian
      As mentioned at the top of this blog, I was so happy to have discovered this biography.  And with every column I translated, I became even more convinced that this biography was a great treasure for Lutheranism and Christianity!  So it was quite a shock to subsequently discover that the Director of Concordia Seminary Graduate Studies, Carl S. Meyer († 1972), wrote an article for Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly (CHIQ) in their August 1972 issue commenting on Walther's writing of two biographies in his lifetime.  I was repulsed when I read various veiled and not so veiled criticisms of Walther [my comments in red]:
  • p. 193: “It is readily evident that they belong to the writings of der alte Walther.” [What does this mean?]  “… The two biographies reveal a warm and personal side of C. F. W. Walther not evident readily elsewhere except in some of his letters.” [So when Walther taught that preachers should preach to the people “You are already saved, so that you might believe”, it was not “warm and personal”?]
  • p. 200: “He did not know Wilhelm Dilthey’s concept of the scientific nature of biography. … He was no Plutarch,…” [I suppose I should look up what Meyer might have meant with these obscure comments, but... I won't.]
  • p. 204: “Walther’s emphasis on the religious experiences, the actual conversion experience of an individual, so characteristic of Pietism…” [Meyer stopped just short of calling Walther a Pietist (or did he?) as he did so elsewhere.]
  • p. 206: "Walther does not tell about the Erweckungsbewegung [revival movement in Germany] in these biographies, although he amply documents unionism and Rationalism. That the emigrants had motives other than religious ones for leaving Germany is not acknowledged. We sense a lack of perspective and the want of a balanced presentation.  [This is a false charge and leaves one to wonder if Meyer read Walther's writing completely.  Walther mentions Louis Harms, Superintendent Catenhusen, and even Wilhelm Loehe.  Let the reader judge against the Director of Graduate Studies of Concordia Seminary, Carl S. Meyer!]
I wonder that Carl S. Mundinger and Walter O. Forster, two other LCMS historians, were on a first-name basis with Carl S. Meyer. – I am publishing this article of Meyer >> here << (in violation of CHIQ's copyright) so that the world can judge whether Carl S. Meyer, the great LC-MS historian, was a true Church Historian... or not. — In the next Part 9...