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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.)

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