Search This Blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

Was Walther too strict warning against the Theater? Part 1

See my previous post regarding a comparison of Walther's quotes from Luther's writings where he vigorously condemned worldly dance. Walther beautifully shows Luther and Scripture guiding against the snares of the world... unlike Ewald Plass does in his book This Is Luther.

But what about the Theater?  Walther had no quotes from Luther in his book against the Theater but Ewald Plass gives comments from Luther that seemingly showed Luther even favored worldly theater.  Walther quoted other theologians, ancient and modern philosophers and a newspaperman against the Theater. But here is what Ewald Plass said concerning Luther's position on the theater, This Is Luther, pages 285 - 286:
That the broad-minded, tolerant, and conservative Luther would not frown upon all dramatics and theatrical performances, was to be foreseen. He did not agree with those who found the dramatization of Biblical incidents and stories a profanation. He once pointed out that the Gospel had been diplomatically introduced by such presentations into a section of Lower Germany from which its public preaching had been debarred. (*) But even to secular drama Luther was sympathetic. Upon one occasion he was told of a teacher in Silesia who had given offense to some by proposing to perform before a Christian audience a comedy written by the pagan Terence. Luther was asked whether such (page 286) an undertaking were proper. He answered that the pupils should be permitted to present the drama. Such plays would be of great educational value to actors and audience alike. They are a mirror of life, said Luther. Nor ought Christians be held to avoid them because at times coarse jokes and objectionable love affairs are found in them. If a man insists upon taking offense, even the Holy Bible may give him occasion to do so, was Luther's realistic comment. (**) There was certainly nothing prudish or puritanical about Martin Luther.
(*) K-K, M II:504 [Koestlin, Julius. Martin Luther, sein Leben und seine Schriften, 5th edition 1903. Available from Google Books here.]
(**) Erlangen 62: 336 f. [Erlangen edition of Luther's works]
Here it would seem that Ewald Plass has successfully found an instance where he can prove Walther wrong in his strong warnings against visiting the Theater.  This is where the new, modern (English) LC-MS can really shine for it has proved the old (German) Missouri Synod wrong! Right?

So is Walther overstepping when he warns against visiting the Theater?  Because of the length of this subject, I am continuing it in my next post, Part 2.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Translation of Walther's "Tanz und Theaterbesuch" finished; comments

After several weeks of work, I am finished translating the German language of Walther's book "Tanz und Theaterbesuch" into English, "Dance and Theater".  It can be downloaded in PDF format in my original post. If another format is desired, send me an email. I notice Amazon is selling a copy of the 1923 version of this book. My translation is from the original 1886 version.
Although there was considerable work to translate this book, even when using online translation services, yet it was a labor of love. For all of Walther's writings are full of spirit, i.e. possessing a pastor's heart for his flock to keep them safe from spiritual harm.  Although most of Walther's writings are about doctrine, this book is different. For he addresses the area of Christian life instead.  These talks were necessary (see page 28 of book) because even though the Missouri Synod had preserved the pure doctrine, yet Satan was causing downfalls of it's members by worldly temptations which in turn caused them to abandon their faith.  This held true also for me for I could see that I too fell this way and so also began to doubt my faith.  But the modern LC-MS was quite willing to "wink" at the worldly pleasures and so did not warn me about them.  Only by God's surpassing grace did He pull me back from despair to his promises, to the scriptural Lutheran training of my youth.
To facilitate the understanding of the points that Walther makes, I added a "Table of Contents" in the first 2 pages.
It was Walther (the American Luther), not Ewald Plass or the modern (English) LC-MS, who speaks for Luther!  It is Walther who keeps us from sin by relying on God's Word.  Walther does not "wink" at these matters, but takes them very seriously.  And his book applies to today also, no matter how much better (modern) we think we are! Here is a comparison of quotes between Ewald Plass's book This Is Luther and Walther about worldly dance:
Ewald Plass - This is Luther
At the same time the Reformer did not frown upon the element of sex attraction in dancing. (pg 285)
C.F.W. Walther - Tanz und Theaterbesuch
Still in 1525 was Luther, as we have heard, saying: "Dance nevertheless!" but now he says that not merely should the youth be encouraged to leave it (worldly dance), but that the secular authorities should intervene against it and impose punishment on dancers such as those described. (page 23)
We see by the above that Ewald Plass chose his quotes of Luther carefully.  But Walther brought out the updated quote of Luther on worldly dance that had quite the opposite tone than Mr. Plass implies and so he knew Luther better (spiritually).  So Plass is like so many moderns who quote the early Luther and ignore the later Luther who had matured spiritually.

The old (German) Missouri Synod is often labeled as "legalistic" or "too strict".  But rather they are the ones that carried the spirit of Luther by holding to God's Word.

May God bless this translation to his Glory! SDG!

(See my next post for a comment on Walther's counsel concerning the Theater.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

For me, it's Martin Luther Day, rather than MLK day.

Who did the parents of Martin Luther King Jr. name their child after? M.L. -- that is Martin Luther.  There were reasons of religion in this. Unfortunately MLK Jr. did not honor his namesake in his teaching which largely departed from Christianity.
The names "Martin Luther" and "Luther" were sporadically used among the names of black people of a generation ago before the Muslim influence became more prominent.
I will honor the man for whom Martin Luther King Jr. was named after, also for reasons of religion... the true Christian religion.
I will spite the world by calling this day:
"Martin Luther Day"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The modern LC-MS blindness on Luther and Walther! (Dance and Theater)

See previous posts here and here concerning "Dance".
After working on translating Walther's book "Tanz and Theaterbesuch", I just discovered how blind and stubborn the modern LC-MS is.  The LC-MS wants to appear as honoring it's founding father Walther in the recent 200th anniversary celebration.  But all the while it slaps him in the face!  How so?
Ewald Plass wrote a great book in 1959 entitled "This Is Luther" implying he knew Luther well enough to pull out quotations from him and comment on them.  I gave my book review in 2 parts starting here in previous posts.  At the bottom of Part 1, I showed where Plass thought he could pull out quotes from Luther's writings that would seem to say that he approved of the element of sex attraction in dance and also secular drama or theater.
But C.F.W. Walther knew Luther far better than Ewald Plass.  Walther's book tells the full story about Luther's position on Dance and Theater... and it is different than Mr. Plass.  Ewald Plass represents the modern LC-MS and other so-called "Lutherans" who think they can make Luther say anything including approval of modern Dance and Theater. Plass represents Luther as not "prudish or puritanical" but largely omits Luther's real warnings on these activities.
No!  Walther and Luther condemned modern Dance and Theater!  How could Mr. Plass be so wrong?  Because of the blindness of unionism and indifference to doctrine, especially the Doctrine of Justification!