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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Günther, Part 2: Popular Symbolics & the real Lutheran Difference

      This concludes from Part 1 on the life and work of the early professor of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, Martin Günther. —  Before I begin this segment, I want to announce that I have updated my table of all of Pieper's references to old Missouri books to add the many citations from Günther's book.
Martin Günther († 1893)
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      Along with editing two periodicals, Günther produced a noted book with lasting benefits for American Lutherans.  

An example of what Pieper described as Günther's great "gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine" was his best known book, Populäre Symbolik (1872).  This became the basis for several later editions with different editors: 2nd edition in 1881, 3rd (1898) and 4th editions (1913) edited by Fürbringer (cover at left), both used by Pieper in his Christliche Dogmatik. who referred to it about 37 times! It was also translated into Norwegian – see WorldCat.

Th. Engelder's English language Popular Symbolics (1934, title page at right; WorldCat) "differs completely from Guenther, inasmuch as the earlier book treated the matter under doctrinal heads, cross-secting the denominations, while Popular Symbolics treats it by churches." (p. VII).  But there is no chance that CPH would ever want to sell Engelder's book again… it is far too polemic for today's LC-MS.  There is little true defense (Wehre) of Lutheranism left in today's LC-MS.  
"Based on Guenther"
And finally there is Wallace McLaughlin's Comparative Symbolics (1968, cover at left, purchase here $14). — 

      Pieper refers to Guenther's book (3rd edition and 4th edition) about 37 times in his Dogmatik (English: Christian Dogmatics) – see this blog post.  Th. Engelder, the English translator of Pieper's Dogmatik, cross-referenced some of these references to his own Popular Symbolics book in the English edition.

      This is a dying breed of books published by LC-MS writers... ever since Engelder's 1934 book.  There is little true defense (Wehre) of Lutheranism left in today's LC-MS.  Why is this?  Oh, that's right, CPH published The Lutheran Difference (CPH 2014) to fill the gap ... isn't that the book where the editor claims that "Vatican II (1962–65) brought substantive changes to Roman Catholic practice and attitudes"?  Also Daniel Preus published his Why I Am A Lutheran book but never mentions the Roman Catholic Church.   Rather the LC-MS President Matthew Harrison is noted for joining “with St. Peter Catholic Church” to revitalize a neighborhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  (sigh)
      If you want to know what actually is the difference between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church and all of the sects, you do well to avoid current works and at least go back to Engelder's 1934 book (a readable, searchable version on, Do you want to know more about the teachings of the "Unitarians", "Greek Catholics", "Quakers", "Shakers", "German Baptists", "Assemblies of God", "Congregationalists"?  Just search for these terms.  Better yet, just browse through the extensive 30-page index or the 14-page Bibliography and you may well have better information than what is in Wikipedia.  And any church that springs up in America today that does not immediately mention their "brand" is most likely... Reformed (Baptist/Pentecostal).  Just drill down their online web page "About Us" or "What We Believe" section.
      But the very best basis for standing ("Here I Stand!") in the Lutheran Church today for English readers is to read Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics – and Pieper relied on Prof. Martin Günther.  Pieper and Günther are not, as Prof. David Scaer implies, outdated.  The Roman Catholic Church is essentially the same as it was 100 years ago – there has been no cancellation of the anathemas of the Council of Trent.  The so-called "Protestant" sects (i.e. Reformed) are essentially the same.  The Quakers, the Methodists, etc. are essentially the same.  They all separated themselves from any right to call themselves... "Protestant". They all separated themselves in varying degrees from the right to call themselves followers of Luther's Reformation.
      After Günther's passing in 1893, how did God preserve the "Missouri Synod" for the next century?  First of all He gave His Word; secondly God gave it President Franz Pieper, who held to the Word of God until the day he died in 1931.  This propelled the true "Missouri Synod" into the Twentieth Century.
      In the next Part 3 of a series on Pieper's funeral addresses, I present the one he delivered for Prof. A.L. Graebner.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Copernicanism comment from Germany

      I received a private email from a German correspondent whom I will call "JM". This may have been because I did not allow public comments on my "Copernicanism" series, and so this was the only way for "JM" to make a comment.  The sender granted me permission to publish his email which reads as follows:
Researching geocentricity and bible I found your blog. It is very, very interesting. Though I am involved in this topic since 2016, I never heard from F.E. Pasche and the Missouri Synode. Thank you for this amazing publications.
I am from Germany, so I can learn something new about Luther and the lutherian church. This fits to the 500. anniversary of reformation.
Do you know Robert Sungenis and his approach to geocentricity? Very interesting also!
Greeting from Germany 
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Reply to "JM":
      As I stated in my first reply to you, I was pleased to hear your comments.  I am happy you find the information beneficial.  Certainly you, as a German, do not need any of my English translation work!  How I envy you!
      As for Robert Sungenis, I can say that I have read about his background history in Dr. Gerhardus Bouw's book Geocentricity: Christianity in the Woodshed (see  Sungenis is now known for his "conversion back to Roman Catholicism" and for defending against the "Protestant doctrine" of salvation by faith alone.  But his "defense" flies directly in the face of the Bible and the Apostle Paul:
Eph. 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Lutherbibel 1545 here: Denn aus Gnaden seid ihr selig worden durch den Glauben, und dasselbige nicht aus euch, GOttes Gabe ist es; nicht aus den Werken, auf daß sich nicht jemand rühme.)
So Sungenis's "defense" of "geocentricity" falls to the ground.  Why?  Because he does not believe the Bible at its foundation.  The Gospel of John states of the Holy Scriptures that 
"…these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."  John 20:31 (Lutherbibel 1545 here: "Diese aber sind geschrieben, daß ihr glaubet, JEsus sei Christus, der Sohn GOttes, und daß ihr durch den Glauben das Leben habet in seinem Namen.")
      And so, JM, I send you greetings from America back to the land of Luther's Reformation: Germany.  I was going to think that your only interest in this subject was the "scientific" aspect.  But then you spoke of "Luther and the Lutheran Church"… and then you said:
"This fits to the 500. anniversary of reformation." -- JM
I would say that you are right!  That Luther believed the Bible and so the Reformation came to be because he believed it at its foundation -- the Gospel.
      You may study all the scientific aspects that Pastor F.E. Pasche wrote about in his 2 books -- there certainly is a lot of science and history of science in them.  For more up-to-date science, you may want to purchase Dr. Bouw's book.  I would suggest that you hold off reading the works of Robert Sungenis, at least until you are well-grounded in the truth. --

I must add this: The greatest warnings against Copernicanism were from... Lutherans.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Walther, Schaller, Lange… now Günther! Pieper's address (Part 1)

      This follows the previous blog on Prof. C.H.R. Lange's funeral message.
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      The young Concordia Seminary president, Prof. Franz Pieper was called on again in short order after Prof. Lange's passing to deliver yet another funeral address – this time for Prof. Martin Günther (WorldCat Identity).  This passing would now bring the total to four fathers of the early Missouri Synod who had fallen in the space of 5-6 years.  Would this young man just wring his hands and wonder how he could carry on such a church in America that had grown so much and thrived under its founder Walther?  How could he keep the ship of Missouri from capsizing?... keep it sailing under God's blessing?  Let us hear how God not only used the dear Günther, but also the dear Franz Pieper and kept the ship of Missouri sailing, and propelled it into the 20th century:
†  Prof. M. Günther. †
Memorial address,
held in the auditorium of the theological seminary
F. Pieper.
In Christ, dearly beloved mourners.
When we had gathered at this place for a funeral service a little more than seven months ago, we had to break into the complaint: "Walther, Schaller, Lange — God has called these men away over a period of five years from our midst and the chairs at our institution." But what should we say today, where we once again need to gather still in the same academic year for a funeral service, because the Lord has suddenly called our dear Professor Prof. Günther from his work! In a period of six years — May 7th of 1887 was the day of the death of the blessed Dr. Walther — our institution has lost four teachers, all the older members of the teaching staff have gone home.  We are not merely beaten — God has thrown us into the dust. We are shaken and frightened to the core. The elders in our council  are taken away from us!
Also our institution, as well as our whole synod, suffered a great loss by the going home  of our blessed Günther. He was one of the first students of the founders of our Synod. In their spirit he was educated, and in their spirit he walked and worked in the service of the church for forty years, twenty years as a pastor and twenty years professor of theology at the local institution. A clear and sure knowledge of the pure Christian doctrine marked him as it is testified in the confession of our Church. He possessed in a great measure the gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine.  And as he was devoted to the pure, unadulterated doctrine with all his heart, he shared with all serious and well-informed children of God the quality that he was hostile to all adulteration of the salutary doctrine. In this sense he has worked in his oral lectures and in writings, and exerted an extensive influence on our Synod and the Church in general.  It was true that his effectiveness took place more in silence. Rarely did he speak in public church meetings. But it was given to him before others to testify in a clear, concise, written expression the saving truth and to refute the error.  Thus, through many years of editorial work, especially in the Der Lutheraner, God made him a blessing to the Church. And the pure doctrine was not only a dead storehouse for him.  What he taught and wrote as a theological professor, he also gladly preached from the pulpit of the Christian congregation. He died preaching. He was as a theological professor still lovingly active as a pastor.  As a theological professor, he gathered and nurtured a church in Kirkwood, which now has already appointed its own pastor for several years. Such a pardoned instrument in the hand of God was the blessed Günther!
We are deeply, deeply afflicted by the loss which we have suffered by his sudden death. But do we want to quarrel with God? Not so! God has allowed us to enjoy the service of our fathers to their old age; They have been among us forty or fifty years. So not quarreling, but thanking is appropriate.  Do we want to be despair because God takes the old, experienced teachers so fast one after another from us?  This, too, would not be in accordance with the will of God. We know from the Word of God, and also through the testimony of our fathers, that the Church is not built on the persons of the teachers whom God gives and takes, but on a basis which remains the same through all changes of persons. This is the foundation of the apostles and prophets; this is the Word of God, as God has recorded through the apostles and prophets in the Holy Scriptures, and has given the Church a foundation. As long as the Church of God has a pure Word, and remains in it with simple faith, so long does it remain firm and immovable on the foundation upon which God Himself has built it, and on which God will continue to build it until the Last Day. We should also not despair in unbelief. But let us recollect and be reminded that we hold fast to faith in the immovable foundation of the Church, namely, the infallible Word of God, and always base our persuasion upon them again and again. That can, that will be given us by God out of grace. So in the great tribulation that has affected us, our prayer is this:
Oh, stay with your grace
With us, Lord Jesus Christ,
That we not be brought to shame
By the evil enemy’s cunning.

Oh, stay with your Word
With us, precious Saviour,
To us both here and there
Preserve goodness and salvation.
Lord, have mercy. Amen.
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      As Pieper mentions, Günther worked many years as an editor for the Der Lutheraner magazine.  He wrote many articles – search for "(G.)" or "Günther" in my Table of Contents blog post.  He also was the main editor for the periodical Magazin für Ev.-Luth. Homiletik  —  And his biographical book of Walther C.F.W. Walther: Lebensbild was a popular book for presenting the life of Walther to succeeding generations.  The book has had enough interest in Germany to be republished again in recent years.  It is too bad that this was never fully translated into English!

But perhaps the greatest legacy of Prof. Guenther, as Pieper highlights, was when he used his "gift of distinguishing between right and wrong doctrine".  In the next Part 2 of this blog series, I will expand on this part of Günther's work sometimes referred to as "popular symbolics".