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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Martyrs 12: Voes & Esch — by C.F.W. Walther: there is a worse enemy today; how poorly we would do

Heinrich Voes & Johannes Esch.
(from Rabus)

      This continues from Part 11a (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Part 12 presents the essay on Heinrich Voes and Johannes Esch.  —  I have already presented hyperlinks to this portion in the first blog post, Part 1a.  But I have discovered some things since that time... that this essay was not written by Hermann Fick, but it was C.F.W. Walther who wrote on these martyrs, first in Der Lutheraner and now republished and expanded as a chapter in volume 1 of Fick's book.  And as I reread this essay, it became apparent that this is a special essay, for it explains true Church History, especially surrounding the time of the Reformation. –  The Project Wittenberg website originally published a translation of this chapter, but strangely the link to the essay is no longer valid.  Fortunately I saved a copy before its demise and am republishing it... because it does not deserve to be forgotten!  But why did the venerable Project Wittenberg allow the lapse of this web article to happen?

C.F.W. Walther
author of this essay
How did I discover Walther's authorship?  From a short sentence at the end of the essay:
"From Der Lutheraner by Professor Walther, and further explained from the same sources."
So between Walther's first publication of the story of Voes and Esch in the first year of Der Lutheraner's publication (1844, Vol. 1, No. 7, pgs 26-27), and the publication of Hermann Fick's book about 10 years later, Walther expanded his original writing.  As I pondered this situation, I am even more convinced that "Professor" Walther was likely a major source of encouragement for Fick to produce his book... maybe even helping him select which martyrs to include.  —  And it is C.F.W. Walther's touch that is so precious, for he clearly delineates why we remember these martyrs... because of their faith... because they believed God, at His Word.  It is precious because of statements like this, from The American Luther who emigrated from his old fatherland of Germany:
In this our new fatherland the Christian needs not expect to die a violent death because of his faith; there is no need for this sort of preparation. However, there is an enemy fighting Christ, worse than the one who seeks to destroy the body; it is laziness, tepidity, the seeking after riches and good times, equalization of the world, vanity, weakness and frailty.
And it was likely Walther who chose the epitaph quote to head the essay.  Concerning the flames as they lept up around them, the confessors expressed the Savior's blessing:
"They seem like roses to me."
Indeed, the dear Walther tells us of our worse enemy today.  And that enemy is raging today in the church body (LC-MS) that wants to call itself the descendent of Walther and yet allows its teacher to call the Bible a "plastic text", no matter what the circumstances of its presentation.  But Walther nails me especially when he speaks of today's Christian: "...causing them to hide their hearts' belief and thus shamefully deny Christ!"  Dear God!... have mercy on us!  —  So to encourage our hearts, I say with Walther:
"May the following encourage the spirit of witness in the hearts of our readers."
Some highlighting added hyperlinks added for reference which must be opened in a new window.
Minor edits of spelling, etc.
by C.J. Hermann Fick
(by BackToLuther)

I want to reproduce the ending notice from this translation to give proper credit:
This text was translated by Erikas Bullmann Flores for
Project Wittenberg and is in the public domain. You may
freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any
comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther
Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.
Surface Mail: 6600 N. Clinton St., Ft. Wayne, IN 46825 USA
Phone: (219) 452-2148 Fax: (219) 452-2126
Swedish Translation
I was quite encouraged to find that this essay has been translated into the Swedish language (from English!) and has been published by a "confessional Lutheran church" in Uppsala, Sweden.  The website is here, the translator was Goran Sjöqvist.  —  Even the Wikipedia article on these martyrs refers to the English translation from Project Wittenberg.
==>> To Project Wittenberg:
If a Swedish church finds your English translation worthy to re-translate into the Swedish language, don't you think that it is worth restoring the English version to your website?  –  And I wonder, Project Wittenberg, was it Prof. Harold Buls who encouraged you to produce your website?  (Oh, by the way, is it still called "Walther Library"... or not?)
In the next Part 13: the story of Lambert Thorn who was also mentioned in the above essay, but oh! his faith had trials that I can relate to, as he "asked for four days during which to reconsider before God whether he could recant."

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