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Friday, May 22, 2015

Walther's Epistel Postille—scanned German original (not in Google Books)

Epistel Postille

by C.F.W. Walther
[2017-01-24: updated with link to new copy]
      To followup my recent posting of Walther's book of sermons Year of Grace, I mentioned that there were 2 remaining sermon books yet to be widely published in English: (1) Epistel Postille (or Standard Epistles) and (2) Licht des Lebens, or Light of Life.  (There is of course a 3rd book of sermons with no English translation listed in my original post that listed Walther's works: Predigtentwürfe und nicht ganz ausgeführte Predigten und Casualreden, or Sermon Notes and Not Completely Delivered Sermons and Casual Speeches.)
      But I was surprised to notice that, although all other sermon books of Walther are in Google Books, his 2nd most important sermon book is not available online anywhere — not in Google Books, HathiTrust, or (see below).  So to rectify this shortcoming, I want to provide a download for a scanned copy of the complete German original.
Download complete high-resolution (400dpi) scanned copy
file: Walther-Epistel Postille_000-496.PDF (68MB)
==>>>  here  <<<==  (68MB); ( HERE)
The original book is quite large weighing almost 4-1/2 pounds.  On the title page is a picture of the open Bible with the sword of the Spirit lying on it.  And what does the page read that it is open to... what is the verse written on it?  In Luther's Bibel, it says:
Römer 3.28 – So halten wir es nun, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben. | Google Translation: So we conclude that a man is justified without works of the law, by faith alone.
In the King James Version it is rendered:
Romans 3:28 — Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Perhaps this will stimulate some interest in re-publishing the English translation by Pastor Donald E. Heck of this work very soon!  But the wise reader would do well to purchase a copy now of Heck's typewritten version by calling CTS-FW Bookstore... they last quoted about $41 to have it copied and bound.  Note well: that gets you both Parts 1 and 2 together, not just half the original volume, as CPH has re-published Walther's Gospel Sermons in 2 volumes.  That is quite a good value.
     Now to finish this post, I want to present just one of Heck's translations – Walther's Pentecost sermon dedicated to this coming Sunday, May 24, 2015. Page headers are retained:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Luther's coarse talk… exceeds our purity of heart?

     Martin Luther is fair game for all of today's theologians.  He is typically vilified for his polemical writings, sometimes smiled at for his connection to bowling (I even heard reference to this on an old Perry Mason TV show).  But he is rather well known for his so-called coarse or crude language.  This was also true during Franz Pieper's lifetime.  And as it is today, so many tried to explain away, or apologize, for Luther's talk.  So Franz Pieper, the Twentieth Century Luther, took it on himself to explain to his Missouri Synod, and a critical (and largely unbelieving) world, how Luther should be read.  The following short article appeared in Lehre und Wehre volume 63, May 1917, pages 230-231:

Underlining follows emphasis in original.  Highlighting and info inside square brackets [ ] added by BackToLuther.

The necessary caution with the apologies for Luther.
In the use of writings about Luther which come from foreign camps, caution is necessary.  This is especially true of those writings which are well-intentioned, include some apt remarks and also deserve to be read.  But since the author stands far from the great cause of the Reformation, namely the peace of one’s conscience before God’s Law, and does not have the right understanding to walk in life completely in God’s Word, so he cannot fail to fully or partially err in his judgments.  We think here first only of somewhat more external things, namely the apologies which one states for the fact that Luther uses such crude expressions against the false teachers and speaks about marriage and generally about sexual things so openly and bluntly.   One very often states the apology for Luther that it was only the crudeness of the age in which Luther lived.  Now it is certainly true that Luther was also a representative of his time in speech and expression. And with good reason it is to be pointed out that Luther's opponents not only equaled Luther in bluntness of expression, but often surpassed him.  But one does not conclude his judgment on this point before one has brought to mind how the Holy Scripture, which admittedly has validity for all times, speaks about [page 231] these things.  Regarding the use of coarse expressions in relation to false teachers, compare for example only the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, also Galatians (Gal 1:6-9; 5:12) and the "fine" Letter to Philippians (Phil. 3:1-2). As for the open and straight talk in terms of natural and sexual matters, so also here you do not miss to compare the Scriptures.  When one has been thrust into passages in the New Testament like Matthew 15:17; Phil 3:8. Luke 1:41; Luk. 2:5, he wants  to partially help the decorum with veiled translations.  And now only the ample description of marital relations and such things in the Old Testament!  In his commentary on the book of Genesis even Luther expresses again his astonishment, that "the Holy Spirit who has indeed a very pure mouth, may speak  of these things with so great diligence, which the Holy Father, the Pope, wanted to remember grudgingly with his chaste monks and nuns, as such things are even foul-mouthed and carnal" (St. L. II , col. 538, parag. 29) [Am. Ed. vol. 5, pg 329:  “Why does the Holy Spirit, whose mouth is completely pure, speak about these things with such zeal? The very saintly pope, together with the chaste monks and nuns, does not even deign to think about them, since such things are completely sordid and carnal.”]  Luther reminds us over and over again of the fact that in accord with the will of the Holy Spirit, to the pure all things are pure [Titus 1:15], and always should be pure. Even if we find such open talk about these things now with Luther, then that can probably suggest to us the question whether or not perhaps Luther exceeded us by action of the Holy Spirit in purity of the heart. F[ranz]. P[ieper].

Who were the "foreign camps" Pieper speaks about at the beginning?  I have no doubt that he is referring in part to other American Lutherans, or the opponents of Missouri that he spoke about in his Last Words.  These Lutherans were erring in the basic doctrines of Conversion and Justification.  And Pieper reminds us that one cannot understand Luther if one does not have the central doctrines of Christianity.  The most important counsel to glean from Pieper's article is how to judge all theologians of today (and from any time in the history of the world):
...the author stands far from the great cause of the Reformation, namely the peace of one’s conscience before God’s Law, and does not have the right understanding to walk in life completely in God’s Word, so he cannot fail to fully or partially err in his judgments.
The world feels justified in "trash talk"... since Martin Luther used it!  Ah, but the world's coarse/crude/trash talk is just that – trash!  Martin Luther spoke by faith... against the true Antichrist, and for the Gospel that has never "entered into the heart of man" (1 Cor. 2:9).  And dare I say that the same thinking came to mind when I wrote "Of Whoredoms and Hemorroids (modern LCMS)" in 1995 as I came back to my Christian faith?

I discovered Luther by a return to my Christian faith... and in no other way.  Back To Luther!

[see also this blog post of Dec. 15, 2011 for more on this subject]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Walther's sermon book Year of Grace Part 3 (Gnadenjahr)

     This continues and concludes from Part 2, the series publishing Walther's Gnadenjahr, or Year of Grace translation by Pastor Donald E. Heck.  —  In this concluding Part 3, I offer a small sampling, not a full index, of topics and terms that caught my eye... and my heart.

     I invite the reader to not only read Walther's sermons in a devotional time (as I have in a family setting), but also search for some specific topics he has covered in this book.  I made two listings below as I went through Walther's Year of Grace book: 1) Quotes and (2) Search Terms.  Neither of these are exhaustive.  Please note that Part 1 contains pages 1-180, while Part 2 contains pages 181-362.
p. 63: "According to Scripture the doctrine of Christ's person is the first, the most important, the main and fundamental doctrine of all Christianity. ... On this very point Christ's teachings are different from those of all other religions;"
p. 162: “Not the correct use of reason but the natural love of self and man's innate hatred of God it is which moves him to deny the divine origin of Holy Scripture because of the doctrines it contains which he regards as strange and incomprehensible.”
p. 254: “Where are the zealous Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Thessalonians to whom St. Paul wrote? Where are the faithful Philadelphians to whom St. John wrote? Where are the glorious German congregations of whom Luther once wrote to his prince, that they were like a paradise in which young and old were provided with God’s Word, and from whom we have received our precious confessional writings and all the glorious treasures of our church?  Once they were full, of earnestness and zeal for God’s Word but now that is gone.”
p 288: "But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?" V.29 [From "The Good Samaritan", and the lawyer who tried to tempt Jesus]
p 312: "...the more peacefully he falls asleep, the more terrible will his awakening be in eternity. We are not told that the rich man died amid great anguish"
p. 304: "The thought that there is a middle road which leads to heaven is an empty dream, and those who comfort themselves with it and remain in it are lost beyond hope of deliverance. Among the ways which lead to eternity is the middle road – the highway to hell.
p. 323: "...because of which they do not recognize their daily, hourly transgressions in their greatness and huge number, that is the real root of their unbelief; that is why they loathe the doctrine of grace, hate Christ the crucified, and his holy precious reconciliation so greatly.
p. 339: "Do not be deceived by the sectarians of our day, who lead their hearers to strive unceasingly for the sweet feeling of grace and the perceptible witness of the Holy Ghost in their hearts, and not to consider themselves children of God until they have received this. This is a completely wrong order of salvation.
p. 349: "Blessed the state whose citizens are true Christians; in the peace of the country they will be solid pillars and in war the best protecting walls of the nation.  As in a realm they protect the throne of the prince, so in a republic they as·free men nourish, guard, and protect the tree of freedom.
p. 349: " worldly kingdoms government officials, even if they are Christians, should above all provide for the welfare of this life."
p. 358: "The severest temptations which can come upon Christians are really the temptations of false doctrine; and these are the temptations, which above all God's Word predicts will come upon Christendom in the last evil times, in which we are now living.
p. 358: "The fulfillment of this prophecy began in the year 66 A.D., 36 years later; the Roman army under Gessius Florus, Roman governor at that time, appeared for the first time before the gates of the holy city. At this time, the Christians quickly fled from Palestine and sought refuge in Pella, a little city lying on the other side of the Jordan. Scarcely were the Christians safe when, as the Lord predicted in our text, tribulation without parallel in world history broke upon the Jews." -- The real "Holocaust" for the Jews.

Search Terms

In my listing of search terms below, I have added specific page numbers on some of them  – otherwise the reader may do their own “text search”.

Africa / Asia / Europe (p 254: "As richly as God once visited Asia, so poor is it now; as gloriously as congregations once bloomed in Africa, so desolate is it now spiritually; as highly as God once pardoned Europe, so ravaged is it now." – by The American Luther!)
Antinomians (p. 320 ff.)
Baptism (sermon on, see pgs Trinity Sunday, pg 192 ff.)
"Believe, teach, and confess"
Chronology, Biblical Chronology p. 332
God's anger / God's wrath
Eating and drinking (heaven on earth p 10 ff.)
Death (7th Sunday after Trinity, pgs 230 ff.)
Enthusiast ... has a false faith (p. 58; p. 352: sinners' rail, class meetings, love-feasts, panel discussions, and similar institutions)
Evangelism (12th Sunday after Trinity 1, pgs 267 ff, esp 273)
German people, German ministry (p. 236-7); Germany
Heterodox: p 294 – "even among the heterodox there are those who have experienced Christ's help and will be saved"; p 296-7: "...the Samaritan even though he was a member of a heterodox sect ... but that even they receive salvation only through true faith"
Heretics should not be killed (p. 69 ff)
Holiness ("thundering hammerblows" p. 259; Holiness sermon, 11th Sun. after Trinity -1, p. 255 ff)
Holy Scripture (God's Word - Epiphany Sunday, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany)
Jews / Jew
Justification (e.g. p. 242: "for the pure doctrine of justification permits no error" – The heart of ...; p. 262: "most important article of the entire Christian faith, that is, with the justification of a person before God"
Layman (p 216 - "every Christian layman")
Martyrs (p 357: "the godless Jews and heathen hated and considered them [Christians] not only foes of the state religion but also of men and atheists." Tertullian, Eusebius, etc.)
MERE CHRISTIANITY!!  8th Sunday after Trinity!
Military service, p 349
Luther (e.g. p 239- "Had Luther permitted love and not the truth to rule in matters of doctrine, we would indeed all still be papists..."; pg 346- "Luther... publicly accused of rebellion...)
Means of grace (esp 193- "Here you have incontestable proof that whoever denies the saving power of Baptism bases salvation upon man's work and thus undermines the main pillars of Christianity, our justification alone by grace through faith."
Natural love of self,  p. 164
Protestant (so-called Protestant churches) NOTE! Trinity Sunday (p 192) directly refutes C.S. Lewis "ecumenism".; p. 293: Protestantism
Roman Catholic Church (p. 68 ff)
Holy Supper
Sacraments (esp. pg 193 against "Protestant")
Sects: p 351-- "As far as the sects are concerned, they are always speaking of faith so that one would suppose that they are not the foes of the doctrine of faith and of salvation by grace; but do not be deceived just because they repeatedly use the word faith."
Sectarians, p 339
Slaves (p. 61)
Sodom (p. 294)
So, so! (God so loved the world...)
Sunday-Christians, p. 318 ff
State, United States, government, citizenship: p. 346 ff.
Unbelief: p 164: "Is unbelief, therefore, according to the judgment of the Holy Spirit the only sin of the world? In a certain sense, yes!"; p. 337 ff. " Unbelief found in Christians".
Universal reconciliation (pg 60: "God has revealed in his Word that all men, all, even the greatest sinner, are reconciled with him through Christ")
"Universalism" - p. 295 -- "They think that one religion is as good as the next; and just as long as a person is earnest about his religion and acts as his conscience directs, he will be saved.  A heathen who zealously serves his gods, a Mohammedan who lives strictly by the Koran, and a Jew who clings scrupulously to his Jewish laws will enter heaven just as well as a Christian."
Witnessing (4th Sunday in Advent)
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May God bless the reader's use of Walther's sermons!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Walther's sermon book Year of Grace Part 2 (Gnadenjahr)

[2018-07-20 updated broken links to Parts I and II below]
     This continues from Part 1 and presents Part 2 of Pastor Donald E. Heck's translation Year of Grace from the book of Walther's sermons Gnadenjahr.  —  Below is Heck's Part 2.

For those that want a copy of the original publication, here are the download links:
  1. Part I  (12 MB PDF w/ searchable text) (2018-07-20 updated link)
  2. Part II  (8 MB PDF w/ searchable text) (2018-07-20 updated link)
Hmmm... Now what about Walther's Amerikanisch-lutherische Epistel Postille, and his Light of Life (or Licht des Lebens) sermon books?  Who will be the first to get these out to the public in the English language to help their Christian faith? (You can still purchase his Standard Epistles from CTS-FW bookstore for ~ $41 - give them a phone call.)
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In the next Part 3, I want to highlight a few quotes and search terms of interest that I noted as I went through Walther's sermons.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Walther's sermon book Year of Grace Part 1 (Gnadenjahr)

     In an earlier blogpost, I published a listing of C.F.W. Walther's works in German, and their corresponding translations in English.  As I was compiling that listing in 2013, I noticed that Concordia Publishing House had added a copyright notice to one of the English translations by Pastor Donald Heck, Old Standard Gospels.  This English translation had been available for about 50 years until CPH decided to publish it – it was only available from the Concordia Theological Seminary Press bookstore.  Although it is commendable that CPH decided to do this (now available as Gospel Sermons, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), one notices two astonishing things:
  1. there are 3 more sermon books of Walther still unpublished in English, and
  2. 2 of these have long ago been translated by Pastor Heck and yet unpublished by CPH
At the time that CPH copyrighted the Old Standard Gospels, I thought they would also begin the work of getting Pastor Heck's 2 other major translations, Standard Epistles and Year of Grace, out to the public... but still there is no sign that they plan to do this.  There is no listing for them in CPH's "Walther's Works".  Why?  They would not have to hire a O. Marc Tangner, or Christian Tiews, or Kenneth Howes, or Joel Baseley, or another translator to produce this for it has already been done by the dear Pastor Donald E. Heck 50 years ago!  Oh, they would surely say that there is a tremendous amount of editorial work to put these into final form – surely that is their reason for not publishing these books... surely it is not because they do not truly value the sermon books of The American Luther... or is it? (Just Sayin').
Year of Grace
by C.F.W. Walther
Tr. by Pr. Donald Heck
     So, what to do with the copy I made of Heck's translation of Year of Grace sitting on my bookshelf for the last 15 years?  It is not available to purchase anywhere in the world, not even at CTS-FW bookstore (even if you ask them).  Why not give it away to the world?  Why make the world wait longer for the most beautiful Christian sermons the world has ever seen since the Reformation century?  Why make the work of the dear Pastor Heck sit on a library shelf (in only 2 places in the world) when the English speaking world can benefit from it now?  Why indeed...
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     ==>> What do you say, Dr. Joel Heck, eldest son of the dear Pastor Donald E. Heck?  I noticed your father stated the following in his "Translator's Preface" to this work:
"May you benefit from the study of these sermons [of Walther] as certainly the translator benefited." – Rev. Donald E. Heck
It seems your father highly valued Walther's sermon books, so much that, as you say in your "Foreword" (page x) to Gospel Sermons of Walther, your mother was kept busy "keeping us five children from getting underfoot while Dad was doing his work".  — 
To: Dr. Joel Heck: 
  • You say in your "Foreword": "In these sermons one will read the author of The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel..." (from 1929).  Now since that English translation has been available for over 80 years, and made Walther known to his "English" descendants in the LC-MS – that Walther was truly the spiritual father of the Missouri Synod, why is it that none of Walther's many sermon books in German were translated and published like his "The Proper Distinction..." during those same 80 years?
  • I wonder Dr. Heck, did your father (Rev. Donald E. Heck (1916–1991) ever openly question why his Concordia Publishing House never published any of his translations of Walther (or Stoeckhardt) during his lifetime? 
  • You stated in your "Foreword": 
  • "While the sermonic style of Walther will seem quite different from the typical sermon of today, the theological content of his sermons will remain relevant, since Scripture always remains relevant." – Dr. Joel Heck
  • You said a mouthful in that statement!  Are you saying the "typical sermons of today" are not Scriptural?  Are there none today who preach Scriptural sermons?  And if so, should not all of Walther's sermon books have long ago been translated and republished by CPH so the laypeople could have Scriptural sermons to read?
  • I expected to maybe see that you would make an effort to have your father's fine translations published... maybe like Pastor Joel Baseley has done (Mark V Publications) with several other sermon books by Walther.  But it seems you are kept busy publicizing the work of C.S. Lewis.  Would you say that C.S. Lewis taught a "mere Christianity" like Walther does in these sermons?  (I could ask many more pointed questions regarding the differences between C.S. Lewis's Christianity and Walther's Christianity...)
  • And so I put it to you, Dr. Joel Heck, that if you request that I stop offering this free publication of your father's work, I will comply... but only if you specifically request this.  Otherwise, I think I will be following your father's wishes by making his love for Walther's sermons known to the world.  —  And if you should request that I stop making your father's work freely available, I might just tackle the job of making my own translation available to replace his.  I do not have the native German language abilities like your father and mother, but it would not be too difficult today with all the free translation tools available online.... 
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Now I present to the world the sermons of the greatest Christian teacher since the Reformation century, from The American Luther, in this sermon book Year of Grace, Walther's Gnadenjahr.  And if the reader should find these sermons beneficial for their Christian faith, then I would recommend that they immediately purchase the recent publications by Concordia Publishing House of Walther's Gospel Sermons, Volume 1 and Volume 2.  Then also the reader will want to purchase Pastor Baseley's translations of three other sermon books of Walther.

In the next Part 2 of this blog series, I will publish the balance of this book – Part 2...  and add further comments.