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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In praise of Prof. Theodore Engelder & God's Word

Prof. Theodore Engelder 
(1865 – 1949)

On page 392 of his 1944 book Scripture Cannot Be Broken, Prof. Engelder stated the following in defiance of all modernist / liberal theology:
“But when they call us legalists and literalists and bibliolaters 
because we are bound by every letter of Scripture
they are out of order. 
Rather, we shall let them do that and 
consider these nasty slurs 
high praise.”

I have taken too long to praise the dear Engelder – he should have been chosen to succeed as president of Concordia Seminary to Franz Pieper in 1931.  Instead, the Missouri Synod chose Ludwig Fuerbringer and a long, painful slide into the abyss of hellish modernism accelerated.

There is more that I may comment on this. But for now, may this post be for a true high praise in honor of the dear Prof. Engelder and
To God Be the Glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Fick 15: Epilogue–“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”, Last Poem of Missouri's “Hans Sachs” (Easter 2018)

      This concludes from Part 14 (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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      I did not plan the timing of this epilogue for Walther's biography of "Our Unforgettable Fick" to fall on the Easter festival... it just came out that way.  But I believe the Lord had a hand in this timing for the most beautiful confession of Job in Job 19:25,
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”, 
as it comes to life today, Easter, in the year of our Lord (Anno Domini) 2018.  The following poem was composed by Pastor C. J. Hermann Fick days before he passed away, and went home  It was published in Der Lutheraner, vol. 41 (1885), April 15, 1885, p. 57.  It was reported in Walther's biography of Fick in Der Lutheraner, vol. 42, Sept. 15, 1886 p. 139.
      Because this blog is viewed also in Germany, I am publishing this poem in both the original German, where the rhyming works, and in my English translation, with my very poor attempts to make the rhymes work.  Would to God that Pastor Joel Baseley or Matthew Carver would translate “Fick’s last poem” better than I!  May the Lord Jesus, the destroyer over the last enemy, death, be glorified! (1 Cor. 15:26)
Easter 2018
Soli Deo Gloria!

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt.

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt,
Drum darf mein Herz nun nicht verzagen.
Wenn gleich es vor dem Tode bebt
Und mächt'ge Sünden mich verklagen:
So weiß ich doch, daß JEsus Christ,
Mein HErr, unendlich mächt'ger ist.

Ich weiß, daß ein Erlöser kam,
Der alle Sünden weggenommen.
Der aller Welt Schuld auf sich nahm,
Ist für mich Aermsten auch gekommen.
Ich weiß, er hat auch mich erlöst
Und will, daß ich mich seiner tröst'.

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt;
Ich laß mir diesen Trost nicht rauben.
Obgleich die Welt ihm widerstrebt
Und alle haßt, die an ihn glauben,
So weiß ich doch, daß Er mich liebt
Und alle Sünden mir vergibt.

Ich weiß, daß dieser Trost nicht trügt,
Daß ein Erlöser kam auf Erden.
Unmöglich ist es, daß Gott lügt;
Kann auch die Schrift gebrochen werden?
Wie Gott, so steht sie ewig fest:
Wohl dem, der sich auf sie verläßt.

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt,
Er lebt auch in der Gläub'gen Herzen.
Wenn sich des Kreuzes Sturm erhebt,
Erquickt er sie in ihren Schmerzen,
Bis sich der Sturm geleget hat
Und endlich die Erlösung naht.

Ich weiß, wenn ich im dunklen Tal
Nun mit dem letzten Feinde ringe,
Daß ich trotz aller Not und Qual
Doch siegreich in den Himmel dringe,
Da mein Erlöser mir verheißt,
Daß nichts mich seiner Hand entreißt.

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt:
Nun darf der finstre Tod nicht schrecken
Noch auch das Grab, das man mir gräbt,
Denn mein Erlöser will mich wecken,
Wenn die Posaune Gottes schallt,
Die einst durch alle Gräber hallt.

Ich weiß, ich werde auferstehn.
Mag auch mein Leib in Staub zerfallen,
Doch werd ich aus dem Grabe gehn,
Und schön verklärt gen Himmel wallen,
Und leuchten in des Vaters Reich,
Dem Glanz der hellen Sonne gleich.

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt.
Wie wird es mich dereinst entzücken,
Wenn nun mein Geist zu Gott entschwebt,
Und meine Augen ihn erblicken,
Und ich mit der Erlösten Schaar
Ihn fröhlich preise immerdar!     H. Fick.
I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
Therefore my heart must not now despair.
If it quakes before death
And powerful sins for me sue:
So I know that Jesus Christ,
My Lord, is infinitely more powerful.

I know that a Redeemer came,
Who took away all sins.
Of all the world's debt took,
For me the poorest one also came.
I know he has redeemed me too
And wants me to have his consolation.

I know that my Redeemer liveth;
I do not let this comfort be robbed from me.
Although the world is against Him
And hates all who believe in Him,
So I know that He loves me
And forgives me all my sins.

I know that this consolation does not deceive,
That a Redeemer came to earth.
It is impossible for God to lie;
Can the Scripture also be broken? [John 10:35]
As God, so they stand fast eternally:
Blessed is he who relies on them.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
He also lives in the believer's heart.
When the cross rises in a storm,
He refreshes her in her pain,
Until the storm has set
And finally salvation is approaching.

I know when I'm in the dark valley
Now rings with the last enemy,
That I, in spite of all need and torment
But victorious into the sky,
Since my Redeemer promises me,
That nothing snatches me from his hand.

I know that my Redeemer liveth:
Now, the dark death must not frighten
Even the grave that is dug for me,
Because my Redeemer wants to wake me,
When the trumpet of God sounds,
That once echoed through all the graves.

I know I will again be raised.
May my body also fall into dust,
But shall I go out of the grave,
And beautifully transfigured to heaven float,
And shine in the Father's realm,
Like the brightness of the bright sun.

I know that my Redeemer liveth.
As it will delight me,
If now my spirit escapes to God,
And my eyes behold Him,
And I with the flock of the Redeemer
Cheerfully praising Him forever!    H. Fick.

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Hans Sachs,  Germany's Reformation poet 
C. J. Hermann Fick, America's Reformation poet

      The high esteem that Hermann Fick held as the master Lutheran poet of America reflects the same esteem that the greatest poet of the Reformation, Hans Sachs, held in Germany during the times of the Reformation.  More can be learned about Fick's partially completed epic “Luther Song” here and in Part 11. To further honor Fick's work, I would append to this post a “Read more »” section below republishing Pastor Joel Baseley's English translation of another great poem of Hermann Fick: “I Am A Lutheran” (ref. Part 7):

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fick 14: Last days; Trowel, sword, staff laid down; Gone home

      This continues from Part 13 (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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     It is sad for me to end this narrative by Walther, for it has brought me close to both him and “our unforgettable Fick”.  It was also sad for Walther that he could not be with Fick in his last days on this Earth.  But it was a Christian sadness, a sadness couched in the hope of eternal rest with all the saints.
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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, #18, p. 138-139.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 14, concluding from Part 13)

So now we have arrived at the last time of the life and work of our unforgettable Fick. The Boston air had not weakened him, but it wonderfully fortified, indeed, rejuvenated him. But the Lord quickly and unexpectedly, in the eventide of this true servant, took from his hands

●  the trowel of the faithful worker,
●  the sword of the faithful fighter and
●  the shepherd's staff of the faithful shepherd,

and brought him to eternal rest, the eternal celebration of victory, to eternal refreshment before his face, taken from the suffering and quarreling Church, but joined with the triumphant Church of all the crowned.
Unfortunately, we can not report on his last days and hours on the basis of our own views. So here we just repeat what Pastor König Sr. of New York in the Boston Lutheran Gazette [Lutherischen Anzeiger] of May 15, 1885 reports of this time:
He writes: “It was his ardent wish that he would die in his office. To lie fallow, to stand idle in the market as an invalid, was a terrible thought to him. The Lord has also fulfilled this wish of his faithful servant. On Sunday, Jubilate (April 26), he confirmed, preached in East Boston in the afternoon, and performed three baptisms. When he came home, he spoke what he was not otherwise in a habit to do: ‘Now I want to finish work’. The evening was there for him: it had been his last job. On Monday he complained of chest pain; pneumonia became more severe, and on Thursday morning [April 30, 1885] the Lord called his servant home. Let us look at his end! Until shortly before his death, he was in clear consciousness, happily ready to go home. To his wife’s question: “What should we say to the congregation?” he replied:
That they should remain faithful to Jesus.” Then he began to fantasize, and in the last hour, to the amazement of his followers, spoke alternately and repeatedly in Hebrew, Greek, and English:

‘Jesus alone!’ and then: ‘Jesus my righteousness!’ From this he fell asleep gently and quietly; a blissful smile of peace hovered for hours on the face of the faint-hearted. On Sunday afternoon the funeral ceremony took place. After Pastor Biewend had read the 23rd Psalm in the funeral home and had spoken a prayer, the undersigned in the overfull church gave the memorial speech on the basis of the word: 'Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ (Matthew 25:23). Pastor Koren (from the Norwegian sister congregation) *) spoke
*) Pastor Koren jun. in Boston, in his first message, writes of the blessed death of the deceased for Der Lutheraner: “I only knew the splendid man for a year, but he was already like a father to me.” [Der Lutheraner, vol 41, May 15, 1885, p. 78 , col. 2; text here]

then some poignant words in English. At the graveside Pastor Biewend read the beautiful last poem of the deceased: ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ etc. (See Der Lutheraner No. 8, April 15, 1885.) [Text file here; editable]  and consecrated the corpse of the dear one.” So far, Pastor König.
But we ourselves know of no other words to close here than those with which we concluded the “Provisional Death Notice” in the Der Lutheraner of May 15, 1885: “With him,
● our Lutheran Church in this time of general decline loses one of its most loyal sons and its most lovely singers,
●  our Synod loses one of the most beautiful ornaments of its Ministry,
●  true Christians lose one of their most amiable models,
● his friends, of whom this writer counts himself, lose a Jonathan, to whom they all will certainly beckon with David: ‘I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.’ (2 Samuel 1:26)
The triumphant Church of the Elect, however, undoubtedly wins for it
a new star, which will shine like the glory of heaven forever and ever. (Dan 12:3)”
All we need to add here is that our Fick does not need a monument set by friends; he, the man with a humble heart of pure gold, without wanting it, by God's grace has set himself a monument with his writings that will receive his blessed memory, at least in the orthodox Church of America, up to what we hope will certainly be near the End of the Days.
Lord Jesus, “stay with us; for it will be evening, and the day has been spent.” Our soul must die of the death of that righteous one, and our end shall be like That End. Hallelujah! Amen!    W.
- - - - - - - - - - -  The End; ●  Part 15 - Epilogue: Fick's Last Poem  - - - - - - - - - - - -

      Along with his ‘unforgettable’ Fick, there was another man, his ‘opponent’ in the Altenburg Debate Adolph Marbach, whom Walther ached to be with in his ‘last hours’, (see ltr from Zurich transl. by C.S. Meyer, p. 649): “Already on the day before my return, on Wednesday the 6th of June (1860), my closest friend in my old fatherland fell asleep quietly as a confessor of Christ, the only Hope of his soul.”
      Dear God! How honored I am to have brought Walther’s glorious account and counsel from the life of “Our Unforgettable Fick”.  And so it then happened that this ending should occur on the eve of the greatest Christian festival of all – Easter, for I would erect another monument to “Our Fick” as I publish his last poem in translation – in the Epilogue to this series, the last Part 15.
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[In the following “Read more »” section is my English translation of the full notice of Hermann Fick's passing in Der Lutheraner.  Translation by BackToLuther from Der Lutheraner, vol 41, May 15, 1885, p. 78 , col. 2.]

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Fick 13: Boston; against Papacy; No God?; Catechism History

      This continues from Part 12 (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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      Now Fick is again called to a big city, this time Boston.  Walther makes a terse comment about this city and its “European affairs”.  With its Puritan - Episcopal - Methodist base, it surely was a struggle for the orthodox Lutheran, Pastor Fick.  Walther elsewhere made a comment against the waywardness of Eastern districts: “Why are many congregations in the eastern section of the United States no longer free?”. –  Also in this portion, Walther reviews several more masterpieces by Fick on the Papacy, atheism, and Luther's Small Catechism. —  We now join our Fick as he makes his last move, to the Eastern district, to Boston...
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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, #18, p. 138.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 13, cont'd from Part 12)

However, by God's gracious will, Collinsville should not be the last stop in the life and work of our Fick. In the year 1872 he received an urgent call to Boston in the state of Massachusetts. To be sure, at first the climate of this more northern state caused him to resist the acceptance of the call for the sake of the constitution of his body, which was inclined to catarrh; but the importance of the city, with its European character, overcame his misgivings, so that finally, trusting to the guidance of God, he confidently followed in the name of God. He was solemnly introduced to this new post on November 10, 1872. The task presented to him was not an easy one. The European affairs of Boston, which were mixed up with New England, and which, of course, in some respects also asserted themselves in his congregation, caused him no little difficulties and worries. It was especially the sad school conditions there that weighed on his mind, as he complained to us on the occasion of the meeting of the Synodical Conference in Cleveland, Ohio., in August of 1884. Nevertheless, as far as we are aware, his official activity in Boston was a richly blessed one, and in spite of all the seriousness with which [page 138, col. 2] affected Fick there, the relationship between him and his congregation was a relationship of deepest love and full trust.

In spite of all the official work imposed on him by his congregation of about 600 souls, he still found time to serve the church in general with his pen. Already in 1873 came the excellent writing: “Secret of Wickedness in the Roman Papacy” [WorldCat; German text], in which he sets forth, after an important introduction in a first part “Secret of Wickedness” from the doctrines and in a second part in the works of the Papacy, namely in his terrible abominations. Both parts together comprise 38 and 250 pages in small octavo. The motto of this work is the words of Luther: “All other heretics are heretics only in certain parts; but this man (the Pope) is the only and true antichrist who is against the whole Christ.” (Luther's Works [W1], Vol. IX, 1014) [StL vol. 9, 1475 §13; AE LW 30, p. 287 - “Lectures on 1 John”, chpt 4:3 – see this blog.] The book is based on the most reliable sources and appended with a precise indication of these sources. The same has become widely used, and the second edition of the same has just been published.

We are now living in a time when:
●  in countless writings and daily newspapers, the word, “There is no God!” is treated as a truth no longer to be proved, but as a long-established truth;
●  in almost all the workplaces, retail shops, art galleries, public squares, and even many university lecture halls, does the word: “There is no god!” resound;
●  more and more people are making connections every day who have chosen the word, "There is no God!" for their slogan and for their shiboleth;
●  all men, wherever they go, wherever they stand, breathe in the fumes of the air made heavy, so to speak, with the denial of God:
but there are also many souls who, without being descended to cattle like most atheists, and without being filled with Satanic hostility to God, are sick of inhaling the hellish poison of atheism.

For the sake of such unfortunate souls, in the year 1876, our Fick issued a writing entitled, There Is A God. The Responsibility to Testify. [Google Books, WorldCat]  In this splendid 240-page work, the author has laid aside the weapon of ridicule, and in alternating form, now in narratives, now in stories, now in shorter or longer essays, are so clearly revealed the existence of a God in such a convincing manner and the counter-proofs against it in their wretchedness, that whoever does not want to deny his own reason, after reading this precious book and being healed of his unbelief, must exclaim: “Yes, yes, there is a God!

In 1882, Fick followed this larger work with a small work: “The Gentile Christmas. A Tale of Life in the Far West. Publishing House of Neitz and Jung in St. Louis, Mo.” [German title; no WorldCat! see 1882 Der Lutheraner (w/ review by W)., and Ev. Schulblatt;] The tendency of this lovely booklet is to show by an example that man can not convert himself, but that God for Christ's sake is willing and strong to save man from the deepest depth of his misery of sin, to bring to faith and to save forever.

The last major fruit of his tireless literary industriousness is Fick’s work published in 1881 under the title: Stories from the Church and the World about Dr. M. Luther's Small Catechism. For Church, [page 138, col. 3] School and Home Collected. [German title; Archive copy] This is first a collection of the Holy Scriptures, then each of the six major parts, and finally, for each of these, stories concerning them. There are 614 of these stories on 361 pages in Kleinoctav close printing. As much as there are similar collections, this one is not only not surpassed by any other in our low judgment, but also not equaled by anyone else. Not only is the selection of the immense material taken on the basis of clear, pure Lutheran knowledge, but also everything is described in the chaste and sober language of Lutheran simplicity.
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Lutheran Scholarship
      Walther stresses that Fick's book on the abominations of the Papacy uses “the most reliable sources” and is “appended with a precise indication of these sources”.  I was amazed too at Fick's scholarly work on the Lutheran Martyrs. Dr. Robert Kolb is noted as one of today's great scholars on Lutheranism and the Reformation.  But C.J. Hermann Fick was also a great scholar on these matters.  Walther testifies elsewhere that Fick writes as one of the greatest writers “in the spirit of Luther”, something I find sorely lacking in Kolb.  Kolb largely ignores (or refutes) the true Lutheran scholarship of the old (German) Missouri Synod. — No, today's LC-MS does not want the world to know just how much their “fathers” in the faith attacked the Papacy.

Lutheran Catechesis
      There is a movement by some in the LC-MS to use “catechesis” as the way to turn it back from its admitted heterodoxy.  There would hardly be any better book for this purpose than a translated English version of Fick's book of 614 stories on Luther's Small Catechism, a book Walther labeled as “not equaled by anyone else”.  I took the time to translate a portion of Walther's Foreword to this book:
“This collection is of particular value to Lutherans because it gives an example for every part of our small Lutheran catechism. Therefore for teachers who have the catechism in their school, and parents who have to promote it in their homes, the book cannot be recommended urgently enough. In the use of it, they will soon discover the good services they can get from these stories for a fair, vivid, practical, and urgent treatment of our “Children's Bible.” Imbued with a genuine Lutheran spirit and written in language understandable to children, these narratives can also be confidently given to the schoolchildren themselves and handed over to them for the purpose of reading through, that after completing each portion of the catechism they would recount the examples each story belongs to. But even adults will derive for themselves rich instruction and edification.”
In the following “Read more »” section, I have included the German text of the first several pages of Fick's book on the Small Catechism – The First and Second Commandments. I may add to this over time. — In the next concluding Part 14...