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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Delitzsch 5: You, Walther, ingrained in me… grace; Missouri Synod fathers

      Continuing from Part 4 the series on Delitzsch and German church conditions from Franz Pieper's Christliche Dogmatik, volume 1.  (Table of Contents in Part 1) …
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      Now we see Delitzsch look beyond the sea, to those who left Germany, emigrated, to go to America to practice the true Lutheran faith without persecution from the government, or from the church leaders and teachers who were overpowering the Church with their destructive rationalism.
      Delitzsch's book that Pieper references in this segment was not translated into English, by the Scottish Church or by anyone else.  It is not available on Google Books or HathiTrust.  It took some searching to find a digital copy on the web in Germany.  But found it I did!  To think: why is it so difficult to learn about this side of Delitzsch apart from Franz Pieper's detailed report?  Could it be that the world welcomed the fall of the later Delitzsch, and still hates the Old (German) Missouri Synod?

Translation by BackToLuther; all green shaded text was omitted in the 1950 English edition and is first published here in English; all underlined words emphasized in the original German; red text and/or red bold text is my emphasis, all notes inside square brackets [ ] are mine; many items hyperlinked for reference; hyperlinked page numbers in square brackets [ ]; all unshaded text was included in English edition but re-translated to avoid copyright complaint by CPH.
—————————  Part 5  ———————————

But ten years later (1849) when he was a professor of theology in Rostock, Delitzsch not only renewed his greeting to his American friends of the “strictly confessional direction”, but also renewed his commitment to the Lutheran Confessions and added the reminder to hold to this confession because in it the “future” of the Lutheran Church was decided.
the “strictly confessional direction”
(in America)

Delitzsch
dedicated his writing Vom Hause Gottes oder der Kirche [PDF, TIFF b/w; From the House of God or the Church] [203  >] to “the Evangelical Lutheran pastors Brohm, Bünger, Bürger, Fürbringer, Geier, Gönner, Gruber, Keyl, Löber, Schieferdecker, Ferdinand Walther, Wege in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and New York”.  We use a part of the dedication words here to further illustrate the ecclesiastical context of Germany with the “strictly confessional direction” of the Missouri Synod.  At the same time the words bear a strongly dogmatic character and are therefore also in place in a dogmatics work. They read: “With the greeting of old, unwavering love, I salute you, you who are of the Lord's house, you companions in my first love for Christ, companions with my first joy in the Church of the pure confession and the unfettered household of God, companions tormented but now, by God's mercy, passed the struggles.  
“my Walther”
You, my Walther, ingrained in me the deep earnestness of the divine order of grace. In dealing with you and Bürger, I first met and loved the ancient ascetical writings of our church. In your church, dear Keyl, I held my first sermon; there I saw miracles of official pastoral care, where I lived paradise days among your parishioners. What deadly hatred of the world was aroused by the simple preaching of the way of salvation, I saw in you, dear Bürger. By your word and example, my dear Wege, and Brohm, Löber, and Fürbringer, I was quite sure and glad of the Lutheran confessions. And at a time of repeated fluctuations, I learned from you, dear Gruber, the true marks of the true Church, in which I found them again, never to lose them again. . . .  Each of your names, dear brothers and friends, is a piece of my life story, littered with indelible memories.  We have experienced years of Pentecostal joy, bloody struggle, oppressive excommunications, merciful liberation, and when we look back, then our mouth must be full of laughter and our tongue full of praise. For the LORD hath judged us with mildness, and ruled with much sparing. Still in our hearts is His sweet love, the Word of His truth in our mouths, and we have not become astray in His holy Church. Thus receive this little offering as a life-sign of the love of your friend for the LORD, His house and you, His house-companions. … What a glorious future awaits our Church, when it supplies the lamp of her good confession with oil of the Spirit, and swiftly goes to meet the coming LORD without ceasing!  All you beloved brethren beyond the sea, [204  >] let us watch and pray that we will not lose the inheritance of this future!” — Under the pressure of “unscientific science,” as Walther put it, Delitzsch, as we have already pointed out, departed from his own testimony. But this deprives the truth of his former testimony of the truth just as little as the later Melanchthon's departure from the right path renders void the truth originally confessed by him.  Gradually there was an alienation between our American Lutheran Church and the Church of Germany. We remained with Scripture as the Word of God and the only source and norm of theology and saw in Luther, the reformer of the Church, the right model as to be taught in the Christian Church.  German theology gave up more and more the Scripture as the Word of God, and wandered in the pathways of Schleiermacher, the “Reformer of the nineteenth century,” who did not return the church and its theology to the rock of the Word of God, as the Reformer did of the sixteenth century, but the Church and theology were submerged in the mire of subjectivism by giving the slogan that the Christian doctrine was to be derived from the allegedly pious Ego of the theologizing subject, the “experience”, etc. In this marsh of subjectivism, almost the whole theology of Germany is currently moving, as far as the public teachers are concerned.
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Ah, if only Delitzsch had kept his first love pure!  In a future installment one will read more about Delitzsch's fall and the reason for it. — In the next Part 6 Pieper looks for other signs of life in Germany apart from Delitzsch and finds a stirring example in a layman in 1923... [that's post-WW I].

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