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Friday, March 23, 2018

Fick 11: America, new home; Lutherbuch: Luther's life–Justification (not Kolb/Arand); Fick forgotten by LC-MS

      This continues from Part 10 (Table of Contents in Part 1), publishing an English translation of C.F.W. Walther's biography of Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick. —
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      From a small town (Bremen) to the big city Detroit, Fick was now firmly an “American”.  We hear later in this portion just how much his new “fatherland” meant to him after a convalescence trip to Germany and back again to... America.  Also in this portion we are introduced to one of Fick's greatest writings, his book on the life of the Reformer Martin Luther, his Lutherbuch.  This book is very near and dear to my heart. Fick's Lutherbuch included his highlight of Luther's Doctrine of Justification at the 1541 Diet of Regensburg.   — Now we resume our journey with Pastor Fick.
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This translation by BackToLuther (BTL), taken from Der Lutheraner, Vol. 42, Nos. 14 (July 15, 1886) to 18 (September 15, 1886). All underlining is emphasis from original. All highlighting by BTL. — This portion:– vol. 42, #17-18, p. 130, 137.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 11, cont'd from Part 10)
According to God's counsel, it was allotted for our Fick to work only to lay the foundation for the congregation in Bremen. In 1854 he received a call to the congregation in Detroit in the state of Michigan. This had become vacant by the former pastor’s relocation to St. Louis, Mo..  Fick recognized this call as divine and accepted it with the consent of his Bremen congregation. On November 19 of the same year he was installed there in his new office. And on the occasion of the next meeting in June 1855 of the Northern District, he was voted their Vice President. Although the new office was in a much larger congregation than he had served in previously, and so demanded much greater work from him, he remained active in writing. He was firmly convinced that when a man was called by God to serve a local congregation, he would also be required to perform sacred duties for the church in general, and therefore duty bound to serve the latter according to the gifts he had received, indeed, is committed in a sacred way. This is all provided that by doing so he does not break his responsibility for service to the parish that is first owed it.
Fick therefore continued enriching the Der Lutheraner in part with lovely songs and in part with substantial essays. For example from this period comes the longer, more thorough essay, which bears the title: Chiliasm (Millenialism) is False which later also appeared in pamphlet form. [DL 13, p. 46 passim]

To this also belongs his  Lutherbuch, oder Leben und Taten des theuren Mannes Gottes, Doctor Martin Luthers [Luther Book, or the Life and Deeds of the Dear Man of God, Doctor Martin Luther], in our small judgment the most constructive, influential and blessed work of all, which Fick wrote and left for the service of the church of this land.

Really written in the spirit of Luther, and in the proper understanding of him and his work of Reformation, as well as in true Lutheran sobriety and childlike simplicity, no other biography of Luther written for the simple Lutheran Christian people and the elementary school equals Fick’s “Luther book.”
The book, which had long been felt to be in urgent need, found a rapid acceptance as soon as it appeared. It came out at the end of September 1855 as a festival gift to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the religious Peace of Augsburg for the first time in a large edition, which was sold out after a few months, namely at the end of January 1856.

Now followed a new edition of the others. Currently circulating is the 20th edition. The book has also been translated into English by Professor [Matthias] Loy [Ohio Journal.] of Columbus, Ohio, under the title Life and Deeds of Dr. Martin Luther, by Rev. Hermann Fick. Translated from the [page 130, col. 3] German by Rev. Prof. M. Loy, Columbus, O., and was now also so well received among the English-speaking Lutherans, that it had to be published in 1878 for the fourth time. In this book, our American Lutheran Church possesses the best apology (defense) of its own.

Among the products of Fick's iron-willed industry published during his time in Detroit include finally the two first songs of his “Luther Song” (“Lutherlied”, search “Lutherlied” here), published in 1858, a magnificently created epic (heroic poem).  Unfortunately, however, it was not the poet's privilege to continue the wonderfully begun work. Because of exertion, the narrow-chested dear man now collapsed, so that on the advice of his physician he had to give up his post at least temporarily and travel to Germany to find healing there, if it were God's will, in his father's house.
Incidentally also during his work in Detroit he learned of the great heartbreak that his like-minded, splendidly gifted brother Wilhelm Fick, who had succeeded him to America in the late autumn of 1852, and had been blessed with effectiveness in the Zion congregation in New Orleans, was suddenly struck down eight months later by yellow fever on August 15, 1855. And so also by the same disease earlier, on October 24, 1854, his devout sister Dorothea had succumbed, who was so dear to him, the wife of Pastor Metz in service at St. John's congregation in New Orleans. [page 137, col. 1]
To enjoy the benevolent influence of a long sea voyage, Fick made his way through New Orleans to the old home with his entire family. To be sure, here he was still very short with the necessary means for travel; but the noble brothers of faith in New Orleans adequately equipped him in great love; may the LORD remember them on the Day of Judgment.

After a happy journey across the ocean, he arrived in Germany with his family on July 3, 1858.  Now though he enjoyed a care here from the hands of his loved ones, under which he gradually recovered visibly, although slowly. However for a man like Fick to give oneself completely to rest was impossible. Again he worked on several writings.
Among other things, he translated a work by the ancient theologian from Celle Urbanus Rhegius, titled “Disputation on the Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel Against All Chiliasts of All Time” [WorldCat; i.e. against Millenialism] from Latin to German, and accompanied it with a biography of that great theologian.   In this writing, Fick included a reprint of the Foreword to volume 15 of Der Lutheraner with a preliminary report under the following title: Why Do We Cling So Firmly to the Lutheran Church? A Testimony From the Ev.-Luth. Church of North America [German: Warum hangen wir so fest an der lutherischen Kirche? Ein Zeugniß aus der ev.-luth. Kirche Nordamerikas]. Hildesheim, 1859.”

[BTL: ref. from Carl S. Meyer's translated and published Walther’s 1860 letter from Zurich, CTM 1961, p. 655, n. 57: “While in Germany Hermann Fick published a 48-page booklet, Zeugniss aus der ev.-luth. Kirche Nordamerikas, in Beantwortung der Frage: Warum hangen wir so fest an der lutherischen Kirche.  In this booklet he included the introduction to Der Lutheraner, XV (24 Aug. 1858), 1—3; ibid., XV (7 Sept. 1858) , 9—11; ibid., XV (21 Sept. 1858), 17—19; ibid., XV (5 Oct. 1858), 25, 26. In this article Walther gave 18 reasons for remaining true to the Lutheran Church.” These excerpts from Der Lutheraner were also reprinted in another booklet Warum hangen wir so fest an der lutherischen Kirche? (Archive)]

This paper showed that our Synod had never had a more faithful and intimately connected member than our Fick. And yet it not only found a wide distribution in Germany, especially in northern Germany, but also acquired many friends even from the circle of former adversaries there. We have seen this from a number of exceedingly favorable reports of that “Testimony” published in German papers.

As refreshing as the days were for our Fick during his stay in the old homeland, with the abundant goodwill prepared for him by friends and family, nevertheless his heart was and remained
[page 137, col. 2] in America, which had become a new homeland to him. A testimony to this is a song that preceded his return to America, and was published under the heading “Homesickness” [Heimweh]  in the Der Lutheraner of June 28, 1859 [p. 182-183]`. In it Fick sings among other things:
To be sure, it is beautiful in the old fatherland: —
I enter the gothic church halls,

Magnificently stretched out on high columns,
And hear the mighty tones the organ resounding.
But my mind pulls me
To the new homeland,
Where Christ founded our dear Church

And where the royal priesthood,
Allied with pure doctrine and freedom,
The Church adorns our God's glory.
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Fick and the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification
      It is quite ironic that Prof. Matthias Loy (Wikipedia, Ohio History.) should be the one to translate Fick's Lutherbuch into English as he would later, in 1881, write a scathing attack on Missouri's doctrine of the Election of Grace (see this blog post).  Walther makes no mention of this attack in this 1885 biography, preferring to remember the Prof. Loy who originally joined with the Missouri Synod in fellowship.  But it is especially ironic that in Fick's book Luther's pure Doctrine of Justification is given prominence, and yet this was the very doctrine on which the Ohio Synod eventually fell, as Franz Pieper clearly exposed in 1889.  Now the ELCA is only continuing the free-fall that started with Matthias Loy and his Ohio Synod.
Dr. Robert Kolb:
not understood by
our culture
Dr. Charles Arand:
“Is Justification 
Really Enough?”

      It seems so strange to me that Dr. Robert Kolb thinks the term “Justification” is not understood by “our culture” in his 1993 book The Christian Faithp. 157...  And why, in the Summer 2013 issue of the Concordia Journal (p. 201), would Dr. Charles Arand entitle an essay “Is Justification Really Enough?”.  But this belittling of The Doctrine of Justification is not so for our Fick or Luther, or our Lord – it seems everyone understands the story of the Good Samaritan and the lawyer who wanted to “justify himself” (Luke 10:29). [2019-01-14: See also President Matthew Harrison's blog on the term "Justification" that repudiates Dr. Kolb and Prof. Arand on this doctrine.]

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"Fick forgotten"
      Carl S. Meyer reported, in his August 1972 article in CHIQ (p. 206), that of the two biographies that Walther wrote, only the one on J. F. Buenger was widely reported by LC-MS historians.  But
‘‘‘Our unforgettable Fick’ on the other hand, has been forgotten.”
Although Meyer was at a loss to explain this oversight by the LC-MS historians, it is quite clear to me.  Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick was far too orthodox, far too Lutheran, far too much against rationalism and syncretism... for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.  The LC-MS was quite content to bury him.  Even Meyer who reports on Fick, included veiled criticisms of Fick, for example on p. 198:
“… in sharp contrast to Fick’s lack of such activities [in founding societies and institutions]”
The more I consider Dr. Carl S. Meyer, the more I fear that he should have aspired to be a librarian instead of a theologian and the Historian of the LC–MS. — So be it!  All the more honor for me, almost too much honor, to be the first to translate and publish Walther's biography of the “forgotten” “unforgettable Fick”.  — In the next Part 12

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