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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Walther's Duty to Attend Congregation Meeting (Rast - Part 1)

To continue a string of Walther publications (see here "Join" and here "Sheep"), I am publishing the following address that was originally translated into English and published in the periodical Lutheran Witness in 1892.  This was then (according to WorldCat) also published in a tract format, "Tract No. 7".  The name of the publisher is listed as "American Lutheran Publicity Board", an organization that may have been a forerunner of today's American Lutheran Publicity Bureau — an organization that has long since left whatever Lutheran heritage it may have had.

But the love for this Walther address has not died!  The publishing arm of today's LCR, Anchor Publications, continues to offer this tract for sale today with minor editing by American and Australian pastors.

I have not yet determined where and when Walther delivered this address.  Towards the end, he speaks like he is talking to some members who went through the chastening experience with Pastor Martin Stephan who was deposed in 1839.  I suppose someone at Concordia Historical Institute could figure this out...

Highlighting is mine. Italicized and CAPS body text are in original translation from the Lutheran Witness.  Hyperlinks added to original pages and Bible references.

Some quotes that struck me from Walther's address:
  • A simple, plain, testimony is often more powerful than a very eloquent and ingenious explanation.
  • It is, of course, self-evident that women and children were excluded...  [We see here how far today's LC-MS has left Biblical teaching...]
  • Why are many congregations in the eastern section of the United States no longer free?...  The cause, indeed, is to be attributed to the fact that contempt and laziness voluntarily sold and squandered this precious possession [the "grand possession of church liberty"].
The last quote particularly struck me since so many erring Lutheran pastors and teachers have come from the "eastern section of the United States" – Prof. David P. Scaer, Pastor Berthold von Schenk, Pastor David Benke, Pastor Herman Otten,...  The lone exception I have seen so far is Pastor Jack Cascione who says he came from New York City.  I believe Walther knew of some trusted pastors in the East in his day...

And finally this extended quote:
Where then could the highest Church-tribunal be found, before which the innocent might find redress and the guilty might receive a punishment, "which was inflicted of many" (2 Corinthians 2:6)? Where would that Church be, which, according to Holy Scripture, is, in the first place, to try a sinner and then if he remain stiff-necked, excommunicate him, regard him as a heathen man and a publican, thus cutting off an evil member lest the whole body become evil?  If the pastor began to lead astray souls by false doctrine, where would the Church be found, which, in that event, would have to decide upon a most essential matter, whether the Gospel of Christ be taught aright or be corrupted and adulterated?  Furthermore if the pastor, teaching the pure doctrine, were accused of being a false prophet, a heretic, and he appealed to the entire flock, where could he find it? There can, therefore, be no doubt that our congregation will collapse sooner or later, confusion will reign supreme, most necessary matters will remain unattended to, the entire flock will become a disorderly and unorganized body which has entirely lost the true form of an apostolic congregation.
Does your congregation resemble Walther's description of a failing congregation where members do not attend to congregational matters... a collapsing flock where confusion reigns supreme,  where necessary matters are unattended, disorderly, unorganized?  Walther's admonishments to members show just how vital the congregation is...

So what is the highest Church-tribunal as Walther (and the Bible) teaches?
==>> The congregation that cherishes its freedom in Christ, its Church Liberty: an "apostolic congregation".

So why does Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., the great authority in the LC-MS on this subject and President of CTS-FW, in his essay "Demagoguery or Democracy..." (CTQ Oct 1999)  say (page 268) that instead of "an apostolic congregation", the 
"... the polity developed by the Missouri Synod was uniquely American"??
Why "American" and not "apostolic"?  Dr. Rast seems confused... "American" polity does not say the same as Walther teaches on an  "Apostolic congregation".  Hmmm... Dr. Rast is confused... at best.

I will have more to say on Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr. in Part 2a.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Table of Contents - Writings of Prof. Lawrence Rast
Part 1 – This post - "Demagoguery or Democracy?" – "American" congregations vs. apostolic?    
Part 2a – "Collecting Autographs"  – Scripture  
Part 2b – "Collecting Autographs" – Engelder & Kretzmann
Part 3a – "Pieper–Connecting Link" (P–CL) – Intro
Part 3b – "P–CL" – Bio & Literary Legacy
    Intro –  "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration" by Francis Pieper
    Essay – "Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration" by Francis Pieper
Part 3c – "P–CL" – Sola Scriptura     
Part 3d – "P–CL" – Final Word, Sola Scriptura
Part 3e – "P–CL" – Sola Gratia (Scaer & Christology)
Part 3f – "P–CL" – Scaer & Christology - "fly in the ointment"
Part 3g – "P–CL" – Church Fellowship
Part 3h – "P–CL" – Conclusion- "a certain extent"
Part 4a – "Justification in American Lutheranism" (JiAM)- Muhlenberg, Schmucker, Scaer, Frampton
Part 4b – "JiAM" – Walther intro, "staunchly confessional"
Part 4c – "JiAM" –  Teachers have lost it;  heart of Walther vs. Rast
Part 4d – "JiAM" – Teachers, Philosophy, Fascinating
Part 4e – "JiAM" – "Evangelicals?" or Enthusiasts; "miserable fear of man"
Part 4f – "JiAM" – "No Pietists Allowed"?; "properly trained clergy"
Part 4g – "JiAM" – "Conclusion", catechization, catholicity, "starting point"
Part 5a – Summary: Demagoguery?; "merely advisory"?
Part 5b – Summary: Ironies
Part 5c – Summary: comparison to other LC-MS church historians


  1. Rast’s claims in his 1999 paper, “Demagoguery or Democracy? The Saxon Emigration and American Culture” – "the polity developed by the Missouri Synod was uniquely American" (p. 268) and also, after discussing a book by Nathan Hatch, which has nothing to do with the Saxon emigration under the demogogic leadership of Martin Stephan, - "Carl Vehse especially provided the direction that enabled the Saxons ultimately to confound the attempt to establish an episcopal form of church polity, and he did so by specifically appealing to democratic sentiments of independence as expressed in the American context." (p. 251) – is ridiculous gibberish, possibly spawned by an irrational devotion to Wilhelm Loehe's erroneous comment about Missouri Synod polity as "American mob rule" (amerikanische Poebelherrschaft).

    Rast’s delusional fairy tale has been refuted by Carl S. Mundinger in his Government in the Missouri Synod (pp, 203-205, 207, 212), by Walter O. Forster’s Zion on the Mississippi, and by C.F.W. Walther himself in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 17(8) (November 27, 1860), 57-60, trans. by Fred Kramer, in The Congregation’s Right To Choose Its Pastor, CTS, 1997, pp. 57-58.

    Rast also spouts an answer (p. 263) to the question in his title: “All of this is to say, simply, that if there was a demagogue among the Saxons, it was Vehse.

    While Dr. Vehse was in Missouri he had only two supporters (H. Fischer and G. Jaeckel) for his Protestation document. Not even his brother-in-law, Adolph Marbach, supported him. Vehse left in December, 1839, to return to Germany, ironically, on one of the ships that had brought the Saxons to America. Rast’s fairly tale notions are refuted in the books by C.F.W. Walther and historians like Carl Mundinger:

    "Any democratic political theories, which the founders of the Missouri Synod might have entertained, they did not get from America, but from the same source from which they derived their theory and church polity, viz., from the writings of Martin Luther. Walther's political democracy was not that of John Locke nor of Jean Jacques Rousseau." (p. 207)

    "Their [Vehse, Fischer, and Jaekel] claims for lay participation in the government of the Church were based primarily upon the earlier statements of Luther concerning the priesthood of all believers." (p. 212)

    and Walter Forster, who noted:

    “It was obvious that Vehse, H.F. Fischer, and Jäckel had stood alone–not in their disenchantment with Stephanism, but in their ability to see where the root of their problem lay and in the courage of their convictions. The shabby treatment they received from the pastors, the evasion practiced by the ministers in their one meager reply, and the continuance of the system favored by the clergymen, met with not a single formal protest from the other colonists. Criticism of Vehse was easy, criticism of the pastors called for more independence of spirit than most as yet possessed. Opposition to the clergymen and their supporters was to become general, but not until later.” (p. 472):

    Rast's 1999 paper is an utterly ridiculous and shameful Hatch-et job.

  2. Thank you for extending the explanation of Rast's confusion of Walther's teaching on the importance of the congregation. As Walther enjoyed how J.C.W. Lindemann used the sources for astronomers against their own Copernican system, so I especially enjoyed your use of Mundinger and Forster, two of Rast's sources, to counter Rast's own points.

    But I have not read much of Mundinger and Forster. Why? Because I am sticking with the greater defender of Walther — Franz Pieper. I wonder that Mundinger and Forster stray in some points, and they do not highlight the central article of Christianity.

    I have downloaded the translated version of Vehse's work from Cascione's site, and I may read it if only because Prof. Rast blasts him. I actually may have read Rast's essay and Vehse's work many years ago ... I don't remember.

    But although your attacks on Rast's errors are to the point and harsh, yet they are not harsh enough. How so? I have only begun my comments on the great "church historian", Prof. Lawrence Rast Jr., PhD, Vanderbilt University. If you have been reading my blog, you will know where this is leading. And all of today's "conservative" Lutherans, even those who have separated from the LC-MS, need to pay attention for it has to do with what the Lutheran Reformation is all about.

    Indeed, my recent publication of Walther's sermon The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds has encouraged me, as it likely has for you, in this struggle against the errors of today's LC-MS. Just who are the "ravening wolves" who come to us in "sheep's clothing" that our Saviour speaks of?


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