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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Missions to the Mormons – in 1884, a perilous effort

This post continues the series on Mormonism from the previous post on their zeal.
In this last post on Mormonism for awhile, I am bringing the earliest writing of Dr. Pieper on this subject.  It was in 1884, while C.F.W. Walther was still the president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, that Pieper wrote of Christian missions among the Mormons.  Utah was still a territory, not a state, for another 12 years. The article was in Lehre und Wehre, volume 30, page 226:
Missions among the Mormons. In our circles there is, if we are not very mistaken, often the idea that Mormons enjoy uncontested domination in their territory.  However, this is not so. There are Mormon communities in which the younger generation seems to have heard little of Christianity in Utah as well as in neighboring areas.  Also Dr. Walther proves this in a letter, published recently in Der Lutheraner, written to him from a young man who grew up among Mormons. (See Der Lutheraner, April 15, a.c.)  But presently in many places of the area occupied by the Mormons are conversions made already by Christian congregations quite keenly.  Admittedly, these missions go out for the most part from the fellowships of the sects, and only the Swedish Augustana-Synod has begun recently a Lutheran mission among the Mormons, to return to the Christian faith as much as possible the 40,000 Scandinavians seduced by the Mormons.  We refer to the "Augustana Observer" of the missions among the Mormons for the following notes: The Presbyterians among the Mormons have 18 ministers, 12 churches, 310 Communicants, higher and lower schools with 51 teachers and approximately 2,000 students; the Congregationalists 7 preachers, 21 teachers, 2 congregations with 200 members, 16 schools with over 700 students; and the Episcopalians 7 preacher, 5 congregations, 395 communicants, 5 schools with 700 pupils; the Methodists 10 preachers, 6 congregations, 189 members, 5 schools with 430 pupils.  The missions extend over 50 "of the principal towns".   The "Augustana Observer" says this on the Lutheran mission: "So far, the Lutheran church has been able to do very little. The Swedish Augustana Synod has established a mission, and the great work of regaining 40,000 seduced Scandinavians, rests on our fellowship."  The same journal writes on the fanaticism of the Mormons: "Few people outside of Utah have an idea of ​​the vengeance, the unscrupulousness and the devilish cunning of the Mormon priesthood (?).  If Utah became a state under the present conditions, the life of no Christian teacher or preacher would be sure in Utah beyond Salt Lake City and Ogden where the Americans are primarily concentrated.  Even now, under a brave and competent governor and at American courts of law, it cannot be prevented that at night the windows are smashed in the houses in the country districts which are inhabited by Christian teachers and preachers.  Lives have been so threatened on and on.  School houses and churches are damaged repeatedly and set on fire."   F.P.
I don't know how it is today in Utah and surrounding areas... but I suspect similar conditions exist for Christians in the state dominated by Mormons, especially in the "country districts".
[2017-05-13: see also Der Lutheraner series, 1912 vol. 68 pp. 262, 279, 293 by Prof. Eduard Pardieck on the Mormons]

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