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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pieper – Foreword 1891 – Pt 2: German or English language?

This continues from Part 1, Franz Pieper's foreword to the 1891 Lehre und Wehre journal.  In this portion of his essay, he brings out the subject of why the Missourians maintained the use of the "foreign" German language.  I have blogged on this subject before here and here but Pieper hammers home the spiritual reasons even more in this article.  The reason was not because of convenience:
     It is also charged against us Missourians as "un-American" that we do not accelerate the process of anglicization in our mostly German congregations.  With regard to this point, we repeat here what has already been often spoken by us: we do not consider it our mission to get a German Lutheran church here in America in all circumstances.  For our holy duty, applied to us by God, we hold only so far to us is to ensure that the Lutheran Church will remain in this country.  Thereto we strive.  To achieve this goal, we seek to be diligent in the training of orthodox preachers and teachers.  Whether the Lutheran Church speaks English or German, is not essential to us.  To us everything comes on the fact that she is Lutheran.  We subordinate to this aim everything, also the language.  If it stood in such a way that we would have to accept as quickly as possible the English language to receive in this country the Lutheran church and to spread out, we would not hesitate for a moment to offer quickly to anglicize our congregations.  But now it is generally the reverse that is the case.  The target set us by God, the preservation and propagation of the Lutheran Church, imperiously demands that we still cling to the German language as a church language.  The attempt to introduce the English language would destroy not only most of our existing congregations, but would also take the possibility from us to gather the scattered material, which we turn first our concern, into Lutheran congregations.  The fact that here in America much unchurched German material exists which can be reached only by the medium of the German language is already illuminated by the fact that also the English-speaking sects feel constrained to form German congregations to supply the Germans ecclesiastically and to win them for their fellowships.  It is also a mistaken view if one believes that the Lutheran church has lost so many members to the sects in this country in 17th and 18th centuries because she held too long and too tenaciously to the German, or Swedish or Dutch language.  The reason for this deplorable fact lay in the neglect of the youth in the higher education of pure Lutheran doctrine, particularly in the neglect of congregational schools, and in the unionistic direction of the majority of immigrant Lutherans.  We want to make nothing artificial of what concerns the language question, but allow the Lord of the church to lead us.  Where the Lord of the Church calls to our stated goal, namely the preservation and expansion of the Church of the Reformation, there we want to make use of the English language.  Among the English-speaking Negros we missionize in English language.  Also we enter with joy where a door opens to us among the English-speaking whites with the (page 5) English language.  Where, however, the aim put to us demands the retention of the German language, there we want to pursue this, and not to be deterred by the foolish accusation that we harbored "un-American" feelings.  That we are reduced to the necessity of having to understand two languages harms neither us nor our new fatherland.     F.P.
(continuation follows) [in February issue]
(continued in Part 3a)
Yes, today's LC-MS, you are the "anglicized" version of the old (German) Missouri Synod... not so much because you now use entirely the English language, but you have given up the doctrine of the pure Lutheran church.  Franz Pieper could speak and write English fluently, so also C.F.W. Walther.  But they chose to stay with German language for spiritual reasons.
And it need not be hardly mentioned that the old (German) Missouri Synod had a heart for the black people as Pieper describes, to bring the Saviour to them.  Unfortunately most black people have been influenced by the Reformed doctrine, and Methodism.
Part 3a follows next where Pieper hammers home the importance of congregational schools.

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