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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Most translators of the German Missouri Synod were not faithful...

As my masthead says, I came back (by God's mercy) to my old Christian faith, the Missouri Synod.  Not just to today's LCMS, but back further.  Back to the old German Missouri Synod, which led me to the true spiritual Luther, something today's modern world knows little about.

How could I go back so far since they communicated almost exclusively in German?  Well I first devoured all their works that had been translated into English.  That meant reading the translations of the likes of W.H.T. Dau, Theodore Graebner, J.T. Müller, William Arndt, Carl S. Meyer, August Suelflow and Kurt Marquart.  These translators would sometimes complement the German authors, but these complements were hollow because they either were silent about the true glory of their subject matter (true Christian teaching, the Gospel) or they actually tore down the authors. August Suelflow would omit portions of the original material where brevity was not needed, especially when I was hanging on every word the German author wrote!

But there were a few translators who were exceptions: Theodore Engelder, Walter Albrecht and Wallace McLaughlin.  These translators did not just translate, they sat at the feet of the giants of theology - C.F.W. Walther and Franz Pieper.  They are what I would call true Christian translators, not translating for translations sake, but for spiritual reasons... to proclaim the true Gospel!

It took me awhile to realize the shakiness of most translators... and to throw them off.  They are now in my side room. I want the good stuff... the pure Lutheran teaching. And I get it now partially by going directly to the German writings and using the tools of today to translate them directly.

But I would not leave this subject except to say there is one English translation that stands above all others: The 3-volume Christian Dogmatics by Franz Pieper (or Francis Pieper), translated primarily by Theodore Engelder. It is the greatest "book" by a human author in the English language.  How so?  Because
  • Theodore Engelder, the translator, sat at the feet of:
  • Franz Pieper, who beautifully quoted the Lutheran (Christian) doctrine of
    • C.F.W. Walther, The American Luther and 
      • Martin Luther, the reformer of the Church, Rev. 14:6-7

All Engelder's writings that were not translations are also faithful to the Word of God, building the Christian faith. What is significant is that he was faithful in the face of the horrible hot breath of the unionism spearheaded by Prof. Theodore Graebner.  As I stated elsewhere, Prof. Engelder was looked on as "not a yes man".  And it was reported that there was one man that left the room when there was to be a joint prayer in a unionistic meeting of the new modern LCMS and the other American Lutheran church bodies around 1943.  I believe that one man was Theodore Engelder.  And so Theodore Engelder is among the very few that I let out of that side room and read him without hesitation.
May the name of Theodore Engelder be remembered for his spiritually faithful translations and writings!


  1. Have you read Matt Harrison's translations in "At Home in the House of My Fathers"? Yours, Brigitte.

  2. I am responding in my post of 2/24/12. Thank you for bringing this publication to my attention.


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