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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Walther's Epistle Sermons: C.S. Lewis vs C.F.W. Walther; Part 1

This post is to celebrate the ancient "Great Day of the Lord", or ... Easter 2017

      I have been prompted to proceed with this blog post by a recent release by Concordia Publishing House.  Their book is entitled From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C. S. Lewis (2017) authored by Dr. Joel Heck, son of Pastor Donald E. Heck.  Dr. Heck is a "Professor of Theology at Concordia University Texas and Executive Editor of Concordia University Press".  Concordia University claims to be not only Christian, but also... Lutheran.
      One could hardly argue that accounts of C.S. Lewis are not popular.  And Dr. Heck considers himself to be one of the top experts on Mr. Lewis.  But as I have previously pointed out, his subject matter is quite at odds with the sermons that his father translated and self-published.

Epistel Postille

by C.F.W. Walther

     Two years ago I published an obscure English translation of one of Walther's sermon books that had already been translated by Dr. Heck's father -- Year of Grace (or Gnadenjahr).  I cautioned Dr. Heck that his focus on C.S. Lewis was rather at odds with the pure Christian preaching of C.F.W. Walther.  I also blogged on another book of Pastor D. Heck, Walther's Standard Epistles, offering a download file of the scanned original German book which strangely seems unavailable online anywhere else (but has since been uploaded to  But I only listed how one might continue to purchase this book through the Fort Wayne bookstore, I did not contemplate then to offer a free version of the full text online.

      But it seems Dr. Heck cares little about the subject matter of what his father translated.  He continues to be blind to the fact that the preaching of C.F.W. Walther is a great warning against the confused, reasoned, rationalistic Christianity of one such as ... C.S. Lewis.  As I was returning to my Christian faith, I watched films and read books by C.S. Lewis and came away... confused.  I read books about C.S. Lewis and came away equally confused.  NOT SO WITH C.F.W. WALTHER!
Walther's Standard Epistles
Translated by Donald Heck

      And so, although I wasn't going to proceed with this post, at least not for awhile, I am pressured now to do so.  Dr. Joel Heck has not seen fit to halt my previous free publication of his father's translation of Walther's Year of Grace sermon book.  And I have pointed out repeatedly that Pastor Donald E. Heck's other translation of Walther's Epistle Sermons cried out to be published.  Even Concordia Publishing has not yet made any announcement (as of 2017-04-16) what, or if, there is to be another release in their "Walther's Works" series.  Why the mystery CPH?
      And if Dr. Joel Heck or Concordia Publishing House should see fit to warn me about any possible copyright issues with this publication, I will print their warning in big bold red print for all the world to see.  And then I may print just how un-Lutheran and confusing the writings of C.S. Lewis actually are for all of Christianity!

      But enough explanation and justification.   Just read and spiritually enjoy some of the greatest Christian sermons since the days of Martin Luther... from the American Luther!  And forget about reading C.S. Lewis ... at least for awhile until you are fully grounded in the Christian faith!

This Google Doc may be directly accessed >>  here  <<.

      Many hours were spent preparing and proofing the above.  And while proofing it many times, my eyes would pause on certain passages and so I would make note of them to highlight them here.  Perhaps the reader will be prompted to search further from the selection below:

55 ff. Missions - the charge has often been made that true orthodoxy was not mission-minded - false!
60: Boniface appeared in the oak forests of Germany in the eighth century
92: secret societies, theater, amusements,
93: Love, true love, is something entirely different than what is now usually sold under this glorious name.
115 ff.: Conversion (1st Sunday in Lent); p. 120: "Conversion is simply the freeing of the will"
121 - 122: Technical progress -- "Our age is happy to hear itself lauded as the age of progress...  can now send a message in a few second thousands of miles. By the application of the power of steam huge machinery";  -- "All these are facts; it would therefore be folly to wish to contest the cry that our age is a progressive one. But this is quite another question: Is our age for that reason really to boast of being the happiest age?"
131-132: Sanctification: " ... just as impossible as it is to merit and procure salvation by sanctification, just so certainly can one again trifle away his salvation by omitting sanctification"; "real goal of all of God's works of grace for and to man is nothing else but his sanctification"; " ... woe is he who uses his weakness and imperfection as a pretext for excusing his service of sin and half-heartedness! He will receive his reward with the hypocrites.
135, 137: FAITH, fides divina: Note to Pastor Martin Noland -- you might want to read this: "That faith which makes a person a Christian is, on the one hand, something so easy that a child can grasp and have it; on the other hand, it is something so mysterious  ... That faith which makes a person a Christian is not described in such a way that every one who hears the description knows immediately what it is; it is something which must be experienced. ... "If as a weak twig he is not to wither, he must send his roots deeper and deeper into Christ, so that he may grow and bring forth fruit."
142: "Not only is "fornication" rampant everywhere, but it has even ceased being a disgrace; it is considered a pardonable weakness; it, and especially impure jokes, are called galantry, and the like." ... "Fornication and all uncleanness together with greed are not sins which are to be found among Christians, which he can wash away by his daily repentance, and for which he receives forgiveness every day; rather these are sins because of which a person has no part or inheritance either here in Christ's kingdom of grace nor there in God's kingdom of glory."
155: " ... jesting, buffoonery, tricks, laughter and jests and thus appease their desires, social pleasures, the joys of fellowship and thus try to turn earth into heaven."
155: Faith, fides divina: "the moment that God took pity upon your misery and pardoned you he has also given you his Holy Spirit who is continually to drive, renew, cleanse, and sanctify you"
160: "do you belong to this Church? ... you can be a member of the visible church, ... and yet not be a member of the true Church, the invisible congregation of believers"
177 ff. -- Maundy Thursday -- universal reconciliation, Holy Communion
184 - Maundy Thurs. - importance of real presence
204: "Freedom!" is the universal watchword of our time.
242, 243 - Paternal authority, government authority: "... whether the families of a country should unite to form a monarchy in which one person rules, or an aristocracy, where a group rules, or a republic in which the people themselves rule through elected officials. But wherever governmental authority is established, it cannot be overthrown by force; it should be held sacred; God should be honored in his substitute and given that absolute obedience which children give their fathers. ; "the Israelites were tired of their republican constitution"
253 - "The believer builds the certainty of his state of grace, his salvation, on the Word alone. The Word is the only credential which he can produce for his hope of eternal life; it alone is the first and last refuge of his conscience. "It is written!" is the first and last proof which he can give himself"
262: one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousands years as one day
276: (Pentecost 2) fides divina: "How can I know whether my Christianity is my own work, or a work of the Holy Ghost? I reply: This is not easily perceived. ... you... have to hear and read God's Word zealously; etc."
280 ff.- Election, predestination -- 280: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." John 15:16;  285 -- "Did you seek God? or did not God really seek you? Did you come to God? or did not God really come to you?"

      But I would end this post with Walther's account of the ancient Church's practices for Easter.  On page 199 is the following quote from Ireneaus:
"We do not pray on our knees on the day of the Lord because it is a symbol of the resurrection. This custom started back in the times of the apostles." – Ireneaus
And then on pages 200 and 211, Walther reported on the earliest greetings of the Christians that can still be heard today:
"The Lord is risen!and the reply: "He is risen indeed!"
I recall during my time of return to my Christian faith of how this greeting caused a great swelling of my weak faith.  But to hear C.F.W. Walther repeat it is truly glorious as it resounds through the centuries, through the millennia. –  Hmmm, I wonder if C.S. Lewis, through all his musings, every used these phrases...?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      In the next Part 2 is the second portion of Pastor Donald E. Heck's great translation of Walther's Standard Epistles.

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