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Thursday, November 24, 2011

My middle name is Walter... (The Lutheran Hour)

My middle name is Walter which was given to me after Walter A. Maier, the first speaker for The Lutheran Hour radio program (1930-1950).  One of Dr. Maier's sermons was titled "Back To Luther!" and his notoriety in his day was quite amazing – you can read about it in Wikipedia.  It is amazing how he stood up to the likes of Clarence Darrow, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Federal Council of Churches, stood with Herbert Hoover and Rear Admiral Byrd, and filled stadiums.  It is amazing that:
By end of year, 1949, the Lutheran Hour was broadcast from 55 countries to a potential listening audience of 450,000,000 in 120 different lands. Programming was translated into thirty-six languages, and plans were in motion to raise that tally to fifty. An agreement had been reached to add a 111-station Japanese Lutheran Hour to ongoing broadcasts in Spanish, Afrikaans, German, Chinese, Arabic, Slovak, Italian, Greek, Estonian, Latvian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Polish, Russian, and others. The broadcast could be heard in Australia, Latin America, throughout Africa, the Far East including much of Communist China, the South Pacific Islands and the West Indies, and all of Europe, including Soviet Eastern Europe and some of Asiatic Russia.
What also amazes is how popular it was with the masses (450 million mail count in 1 year) and yet how little it is known today.  Walter A. Maier made national news.

The book A Man Spoke, A World Listened, written by his son Paul L. Maier, says the following (pgs 388-389):
Walter Arthur Maier was the first person in history heard around the world on a regular basis, the first to preach to a cumulative total of some two-thirds billion people annually, the first to have his words translated and aired each week in thirty-six languages, the first to receive daily masses of correspondence from 120 nations and territories, and probably the first American churchman whose published works exceeded 15,000 pages.  Authorities have stated that "the most heard preacher in history" ought to occupy a place eventually on the pages of church history in the post-Pauline succession of the great preachers and missionaries of Christendom: Chrysostom, Boniface, Luther, Wesley, Edwards, Whitefield, Carey, Livingston, Spurgeon, Maclaren, and others.  Perhaps this is overstatement.  At any rate, in just one sermon Maier addressed more people than the cumulative total congregations of all these greats over a lifetime of preaching.
So why don't I call Walter A. Maier the "20th Century Luther" instead of Franz Pieper? It is because of his doctrine. See the next post for more on this.

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