Search This Blog

Monday, July 28, 2014

World War I 100 years ago today: Why? (Read Pieper)

Today, July 28, 2014, marks the 100-year anniversary of World War I.

Why do I bring this topic to this blog?  Because there were many German-American Lutherans in this land at that time.  The early fathers of the Missouri Synod came from Germany, many to escape persecution of Lutheranism in their fatherland.  And as I have perused the writings of those who lived through the "Great War" from the old (German) Missouri Synod, they presented a refreshing basis of true history that either refutes the worst of modern history, or filled in the true reasons for the anger that built into the so-called "Great War".  Why?... why are they the best source of true history?  Because all other historians ignore or are ignorant of the true motives involved as they ignored matters of the true faith, Christianity.

There has been a resurgence of books written recently purporting to give a more complete or incisive analysis of why this war started.  I have examined several for reference, but only to compare them to what I have learned from the German-American Lutherans of the old (German) Missouri Synod.  Virtually all of the history books take no notice of the religious aspects or underlying motives.

The old (German) Missouri Synod could see right through the motives of all sides.  But if you really want to learn of why the war began and progressed to its horrible stature, you will study especially...Franz Pieper.  It was especially Franz Pieper who struck at the heart of all matters involved, for he not only read the papers from around the world and kept himself informed on all events, but he also believed God at His Word.
Again, the best of these was none other than...

Franz Pieper, the Twentieth Century Luther!

Oh, how I have wished that he lived to record the true history of... World War II.


  1. From Fred W. Meuser, “Facing the Twentieth Century,” (in E. Clifford Nelson, ed., The Lutherans in North America, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975, pp. 396-7):

    When American “neutrality” turned out to be in the Allies’ favor, Lutherans began publicly to criticize the government in a fashion not at all typical of their church in the past… Strange, in view of the Missouri Synod’s traditional social and political quietism, was the extent and vigor of its denunciations of the ‘atrocious trade in arms’ and its charge that America’s lust for profit had turned it into a hypocritical murderer. [16] Even more astounding was the theological justification for this new critical attitude voiced by Missouri’s president [F. Pfotenhauer] that ‘anything that touches moral issues is within the sphere of the church.’ [17] Attacks on both American and German manufacturers, favorable reviews of books which laid the blame for the war on England, defenses against the charge of hyphenism, and synodical resolutions against arms exports which were causing loss of American lives were other expressions of the German sympathies of Lutherans. Allied defeats were interpreted as punishment for its national sins, such as the opium trade in China; German suffering as divine retribution for its spiritual decline. Only the more extreme Germanophiles went so far as to praise the Kaiser and General von Hindenburg as Christians worthy of emulation. [18]

    16. Friedrich Bente of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, spoke frequently at neutrality conferences and editorialized regularly against American policy in Der Lutheraner, as did Theodore Graebner in the Lutheran Witness. Bente’s appearance before the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate in 1915 caused Henry Cabot Lodge to comment in a letter to Theodore Roosevelt in 1915 that Bente’s accent was “so strong you could stumble over it… [as he] lectured us on Americanism, patriotism… [and]the opinions of George Washington… Some of us are not hyphenates – we are just plain Americans – and the wrath of the members of the Committee, Democrats and Republicans, was pleasing to witness. I think they have overdone it.” Quoted in Carl S. Meyer, ed., Moving Frontiers: Readings in the History of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1964), p. 236.
    17. Der Lutheraner, February 15, 1916, p. 63. When the issues became emotional enough, Lutherans could appeal to the very same oversimplified principle which they had criticized repeatedly when used by other Protestants to justify concern and action on social or political issues,
    18. Lutheran Witness, December 15, 1914, p. 207; August 10, 1915, p. 253

    1. Reading authors from books published by Fortress Press or Philadelphia, such as Clifford Nelson or any of his essayists, to find out true history is like go to Theodore Tappert to learn about the old (German) Missouri Synod – it is weak at best, nonsense at worst. Tappert published some of Walther's writings, but only as a kind of smorgasbord, “take your pick” theology. But not only are Tappert and Nelson weak at best, but also C.S. Meyer of the LC-MS. All of these (and a host of others) were actually opponents of the old (German) Missouri Synod. Pieper's Last Words tell us about these opponents.
      It is sad for me that August Suelflow was blind to the spiritual weaknesses of Tappert and Nelson.
      As for the case of Theodore Graebner, I have commented on him often enough to show that even his early writings are weak, while his later writings, after Pieper's death, were atrocious. But even as bad as Graebner became in his later life, he at least recorded this of Pieper regarding his adopted country of America:

      “To the end of his life he was proud of the navy button in his lapel which he carried as member of a national patriotic organization supporting the naval program of our country. At social gatherings he almost invariably discussed civic and national affairs, often with a good deal of humor and with an acute appraisal of men and issues.” (Dr. Francis Pieper - A Biographical Sketch, page 54)

      I am somewhat aware of Bente's active role in attempting to keep America out of the European war, but it has been awhile since I did the research on him. He was rather bold in his efforts for American neutrality, surprisingly so. Pieper was also active, but did not join Bente's more overt efforts. Rather Pieper held to always reporting the spiritual importance of all events in the world. For example, it was Pieper who highlighted the Masonic like organization called the “Black Hand” among the Serbs that was an instigator of insurrection leading up to the Great War. Today's historians (mostly British) are catching up to what Pieper knew from the beginning. Today's historians know hardly anything of spiritual matters, but the best of them now tell you of this “Black Hand” organization. Hmmm, I wonder why they did not teach me of the dangers of lodges in the history classes of my youth?

    2. "Reading authors from books published by Fortress Press or Philadelphia, such as Clifford Nelson or any of his essayists, to find out true history is like go to Theodore Tappert to learn about the old (German) Missouri Synod – it is weak at best, nonsense at worst."

      This is a good example of a circumstantial ad hominem fallacy which, instead of dealing with the accuracy of the statements and documentation in Fred Meuser's article, it is dismissed in toto using a guilt-by-association with Clifford Nelson, Fortress Press, and an argument of analogy to Theodore Tappert, C.S. Meyer, and August Suelfow.

      Yet you agree with Meuser's statement regarding Graebner and delicately admit to being "somwhat aware" of Bente's active role for neutrality.

      Even though imperialism and diplomatic entanglements which led to WWI with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the U.S.did not become involved in the war until the release of the German's Zimmermann telegram and the subsequent German sinking of U.S. merchant ships brought the U.S. into WWI.

  2. I protest the charge of ad hominem, but quite agree with the in toto charge. And let us be quite clear about this – I do not “agree” with Meuser, I make my own judgments. You say I “agree” with him, but rather you are more correct that I reject him in toto, just like I reject in toto all the spiritually based judgments of all the editors and translators of Luther's Works, American Edition -- I have literally cut out their preface pages and put them in the back of the book. For even when they seem to make “correct, accurate” statements, they cloud them, mix them with untruths in deceptive ways. But I am amazed that you would put credence in Meuser’s judgments as he writes:
    “Strange, in view of the Missouri Synod’s traditional social and political quietism…; Even more astounding was the theological justification…; Only the more extreme Germanophiles…”

    … as Meuser repeats Henry Cabot Lodge’s comment on Bente’s German accent as “so strong you could stumble over it”. Why would Meuser repeat Lodge’s comment? Could it be Meuser wanted to use it to paint these American citizens with thick German accents as unpatriotic?... now who is using the ad hominem attack? To listen to Fred Meuser on this is to listen to the opponents of the old (German) Missouri Synod, the opponents who effectively denied the Gospel itself.

    And you would put credence in the work of Clifford Nelson, who said:
    “…the Missouri Synod and the demonic internecine warfare that plagues that particular household and impairs the totality of witness to the world by all who name the Name of Christ

    Let the reader judge the writings of Meuser (and Nelson) and determine whether they are getting a true assessment of spiritual matters from him or rather... the old (German) Missouri Synod.
    Guilty – in toto – guilty as charged!
    Matt. 7:18 - “...neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
    This post is now closed as I have other matters to attend to.


Comments only accepted when directly related to the post.