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Sunday, November 26, 2017

“Newspaper pestilence” (Walther) - Part 2 of 2

[2017-12-21: added images of Abendschule mastheads in text below.]
      This concludes from Part 1, a short essay by C.F.W. Walther on worldly (or secular) newspapers.  Walther continues to plead with Christians to avoid holding to the opinions of the godless newspapermen.  But then he introduces perhaps the reason for this essay – a newspaper truly for Christians?  Could it be?
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Something on reading worldly newspapers.
[By C.F.W. Walther]
(continued from Part 1)

It is therefore impossible to calculate the damage that such newspapers cause in the hearts of readers. The Christian readers, of course, initially resent the content very much and reject the verdicts of their paper, which contravened God's Word, with all seriousness. But at last they, too, get used to the fact that persons and events are not judged according to God's Word but according to the atheistic principles of this last world. The result is that, in the first place, they no longer resist it and become indifferent to it, until finally the anti-biblical and anti-Christian views of the spirit are shared by these Christian readers as well [page 139, col. 3] and, without their suspecting it themselves, all Christian judgment with root and branch is eradicated from their mind.
There is no question that so many Christians are going back now, having run fine for a long time, but now so many stop being a light of the world and a salt of the earth; yes, that now whole congregations are becoming less and less sensitive to God's Word, and the spirit of the world is moving in and invading them with irresistible force, like a flood, — of which one of the main causes is the reading of pages that unbelievers and half-believers edit. Especially in the larger cities, where daily newspapers appear, many thousands devour their papers in the first hours of the morning, instead of the morning blessing, and that is their spiritual food for the whole day.
As long as there were only such papers in many areas, devout pastors could do little with their zeal against this true newspaper pestilence. There it was always thrown at them, "Without newspapers, we can not survive at this time and in this country. If we do not have good ones, we must probably, albeit reluctantly, keep and read the bad ones." What were faithful church servants to do there? They had to let it happen with bitter sighing that the satanic press drove its devil’s mission in their congregations, and had to be glad when they found a few who would rather read nothing than godless stuff.
Abendschule mastheads
(PDF hi-res)

This sad time is, God be praised! over. For a long time now, better-minded writers have undertaken to publish a political newspaper that Christians can read without offense. However cordial we have been to every enterprises of this kind, it is a very special pleasure for us to be able to report to our readers that the editor of the “Abendschule” [“Evening School”], Mr. Louis Lange, has decided to include, besides the “Abendschule”, a weekly political newspaper under the name “The Rundschau” [“The Review”].  This newspaper has already been through a full year.  But until now this newspaper has been so small that it cannot satisfy many who have the need for a political paper, and therefore could not achieve its purpose of at last dispelling altogether the body-and-soul-destroying, disbelieving newspaper literature from our families.  But since September 1 of this year “Die Rundschau” appears in a mighty large newspaper format and not only brings everything worth knowing from the events of today at home and abroad, but also discusses the most important issues of the political world in weekly editorials, and throughout the last page gives correspondence informing all sorts of interesting events in our dear congregations scattered all over the United States. Of course, the romance novels are not included in the “Rundschau.”  It will not serve any particular party, but will be strictly impartial in its judgment. But while it will keep away everything offensive to a Christian, one will not miss anything in it. It is true that the publication of many newspapers allegedly intended for Christians have been announced, which were welcomed with joy by faithful Christians, whose trial copy also filled with great hope, but in which the Christians soon found themselves deceived.  [page 140] Therefore, many Christians are not without reason to mistrust all the new newspapers that purport to serve Christians. But if any such paper deserves the trust of Christian readers, it is undoubtedly the new “Rundschau”. First of all, it is the same publisher as that of the “Abendschule”, an entertaining magazine, which for a number of years as a periodical for Christians proves itself in an excellent way like no other of its kind, such as friend and foe must confess.  And then the editors specially employed for the “Rundschau”, Mr. E. W. Kähler and Mr. Dr. H. Dümling, so reliable guarantors that the "Rundschau", will keep what it promises in the most conscientious manner as one might wish. Also a regular contributor, who will provide among other things, an overview of the most important events of the past week has been won for the paper, who is just as capable in this as in matters of the heart, to increase the value of this newspaper by dignified articles.
Our Christians, who only hold and read weekly papers, or only need the weekly, have now every reason to keep away from even further and not read bad newspapers. We do not see how these can unite a Christian with his conscience after the publication of the “Rundschau”. Thus the “Rundschau” is urgently recommended to all Christians.    W.

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Steven Rowan
      Historians have chronicled the influence of the 48'ers, or the German radicals in America through their newspapers.  Dr. Steven Rowan (UMSL, CV) appears to be the best authority in the world on these men and their newspapers.  But they matter little to Christians except as adversaries as they fought directly against… C.F.W. Walther and his "Old Lutherans", as Walther fought to protect Christians in their reading habits from the opinions of unbelieving editors.  Dr. Rowan, who according to his CV has been an instructor for Concordia Seminary a number of years (see also here, Paleography Institute), said this in a preface to his book Germans for a Free Missouri:
“The concentration by American historians on English to the exclusion of all the other languages historically spoken and written in North America both destroys our usable past and impoverishes our present.”
Well said, Dr. Rowan!  Would to God there were more Lutherans who could read and translate the wealth of old (German) Missouri Synod writings!  America is indeed an impoverished nation in this regard. — But…
Could it be that when Dr. Rowan spoke to the Seminary students, he taught them what he stated in the preface of another book of his (p. 18):
“…the Old Lutherans were a small and relatively isolated sect
… and so "Old Lutherans" like me have to warn Christians against not only his opinions of the Lutheran "sect", but also against today's Concordia Seminary and the LC-MS?
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      Today, it is difficult, if not impossible, to get the news without being bombarded (hammered!) constantly against one’s Christian faith.  As I was falling away from my Christian faith 40-50 years ago, I did not seem to care what I read.  Later, I felt reading the Wall Street Journal at least gave me news less antagonistic to Christianity.  At least when it reports of business matters, it isn’t attacking Christianity, is it?  But it too was no friend of the true faith.  And my Christian faith was dead anyway. — Where are the truly Christian, truly Christian newspapers now, like the “Rundshau” that Walther recommended to the lay readers in 1881?  Almost all so-called Christian publications today have a Reformed (Pentecostal, Baptist, liberal, etc.) origin. Certainly Pastor Hermann Otten attempted to file this gap initially with his weekly Lutheran News [1962-1967], now named to Christian News since 1968 (website).  —  Today most now think of the Internet to find their news, but the story is the same, only raised to the "Google power".
      One thing is clear from Walther’s piece – to read the “godless newspapers” (or godless “media” today) and to hold to them is to invite complete disaster for one’s Christian faith… to say nothing of turning on the TV and watching anything, whether “over the air” or over cable/satellite.
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      This short essay is intended as an introduction for planned future blogs on old (German) Missouri Synod Church History.  A lot of people think they know the history of its beginnings (not the LC-MS), but it seems even the best of them were confused.

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