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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fick 7: St Louis, Walther; ‘I Am A Lutheran’ poem– Der Lutheraner author; Methodists

      This continues from Part 6 (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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      After a short side story of Fick's fellow traveler Francke and his first pastorate, Walther relates his joy in remembering his first meetings with the new immigrant German, Hermann Fick.  And how Fick impressed Walther!  Fick, after a time of counsel with The American Luther (Walther), became an instant bastion of Lutheran teaching, a great Church Historian, and… the “Missouri Nightingale”.
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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, #16, p. 121-122.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 7, cont'd from Part 6)

Francke, whose special desire was to be used to seek out and supply abandoned fellow-believers in the far west, hurried to St. Louis, Mo., and waited here now for the LORD's call in his vineyard. He had also taken the right time to do so, when just then a number of mostly north German Lutherans in Lafayette County, Missouri (about 200 miles west of St. Louis) had approached this writer [Walther!] with a request to provide them with a good pastor. Therefore, when they were informed of the arrival of a candidate from northern Germany, they immediately sent a call to their pastor, which Francke also accepted immediately. After receiving ordination in the local Trinity Church on December 29, 1846, he set out in grim cold on the way to the place of his destiny, which he reached only after eight days journey partly by cart, partly on horseback, partly on foot, with unspeakable hardships.*)

*) As Francke one day along with his fellow travelers, prompted by the stage coachman himself, stopped at a lonely farm to warm up his frozen limbs a little, and when, after about fifteen minutes, he came out of the farmhouse again to take his place in the mail-van, behold, the post-coachman with his horses had disappeared. Francke had been forced on horseback into the unknown, hard-to-travel, snow-covered area in danger of freezing, to continue his journey. He reported this to the writer by letter, expressing the deepest gratitude for God's wonderful preservation, but without complaining about his hardships, in the best sense of humor. He had already expected such hardships in Germany in his decision to serve the scattered Lutherans here.

[page 121, col. 2] When we had let Francke know how much we were pleased by such a strength as he had received for the service of our American mission church, he replied in his humility, "Just wait; soon my friend Fick will follow me; that is a very different man than I who is such a poor man.”
That Fick would soon follow him also came to our great joy. It is true that Fick had already made some attempts to carry out so-called Inner Mission in the Cincinnati area while on his journey here from Fort Wayne; but finally he had decided to go to St. Louis, Mo., and to go to the service of the Church, wherever help was most needed. He had no desire to be the only one to obey the Word of his God: “For thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” (Jer. 1:7)
Fick arrived here in mid-January 1847, and God did it so that we could enjoy his fellowship daily until the end of May of the same year. At the time, our domestic circumstances did not allow us to house Fick; that was gladly taken over by a dear, now long departed church member, pharmacist Tschirpe; but he [Fick] was my guest at this time every day from morning to night. The days of this fellowship with him are among the most beautiful and blessed days of our lives. His amiable personality in every respect soon won our whole heart. Gentleness and sincerity, childhood simplicity and vigor, yes, we saw this harmoniously paired in him with a certain chivalrous nature in the loveliest way. Full of youthful enthusiasm for everything true, good and beautiful, yet he was free from those youthful exuberances in which one makes oneself a world in his thoughts, without thinking of how it really is.

But the most glorious thing that we saw in him was a firm childlike faith in the Word of God and in the grace of his Savior, as the basis of his soul’s peace, [page 121, col. 3] his joy, his hope and his desire to serve the Lord in his fellow-redeemed. Apparently in constant communication with his God, he showed himself far from all enthusiasm. As often and as much as we discussed about theology and the church, we almost always met in our convictions. There may occasionally be some obscurity and wavering in connection with this, but it always manifested itself that the excellent young man was on the right footing, that the ultimate result of our exchange was always the fullest unity of faith in all points of doctrine. The study of the writings of Luther had obviously saved him through all the dangers of falling into dangerous heresy or even hanging on to it. We could only praise God for having given to our American Lutheran Church a gift in this man, as we needed right now.
As ready as he was to collaborate with our Der Lutheraner, we were sure that we would soon be able to invite him to cooperate in this only organ (at that time) of the orthodox American Lutheran Church with a cheerful conscience.  Already in the number of the Der Lutheraner of February 9, 1847  [Baseley], therefore, there is the beginning of that glorious first article from Fick's pen, which deceives the title “The Marburg Colloquy, One Evidence that the Lutheran Church of that Time had Not Rejected True but False Church Union,” with the motto “The Lutheran Church does not make a union, it is the union.” This excellent article strengthened us powerfully in the conviction that during those low days God in grace had bestowed on us in Fick a most distinguished collaborator in His great work, also by writing. The second contribution, which Fick delivered at that time for the Der Lutheraner and which appeared in this paper on March 23, 1847  [Baseley], consisted in the widely known song I Am a Lutheran, the True Church Member.” We declare this incomparable song to be known far and wide, for after it had been excluded from one German church  paper, it gradually appeared in a whole series of German Lutheran church papers, [page 122, col. 1] although sometimes without indication of the source. We also soon learned that Fick had set the right tone for our local Lutheran people. After some time, when we came to be a church in which the Der Lutheraner had some subscribers, we asked a member, a farmer, about his faith. He answered, “I am a Lutheran, the true Church member.” and now he recited the whole song of Fick by heart with a raised voice and visible joy. At that time an article by a certain Peter Schmucker appeared in the Methodist so-called “Apologist”, in which the Confirmation commonly in use in the Lutheran Church was abominably blasphemed and called the "confirmation machine" of the Lutherans, which was introduced by them instead of conversion.

At the same time, the aforementioned Methodist article writer agitated against the sacred place of Baptism and the Lord's Supper held by the Lutherans as a holy “Sacrament”, which he declared to be a heathenish (!) superstition. Indignant by this equally crude and ungodly fanatic (Schwärmerei), Fick immediately wrote a counter-article, which also appeared in that issue of the Der Lutheraner of March 23, 1847 [Baseley], in which he showed so clearly the ridiculousness and abomination of the fanatical spirit that even the simplest reader could grasp it with his hands. Fick's essay therefore produced a great movement. Not a few Lutherans, who until then had been troubled in their conscience by the pious appearance of the Methodists, were now completely convinced by Fick's counter-article that the spirit of Methodism was not the Holy Spirit, but a fiercely enthusiastic (fanatical) spirit.
With Fick's entry onto the staff of the Der Lutheraner, a new important segment of the effectiveness of this paper began.  Its sole purpose was from the beginning and has remained by God's grace until today, to draw again into the light “God's Word and Luther's doctrine” and bring it to bear.  It was to expose the false Lutherans. It was to return to the truth or to put it to work. It was to close the door to the enthusiastic souls who were already about to eat the local dead name-only Lutheran Church as carrion like eagles, and to call the old venerable Church of the Reformation back to life here and build it. —  
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      One sees in the last paragraph above how Walther relished telling Fick's story and remembering the “sole purpose” of his Der Lutheraner, to
  • “draw again into the light ‘God's Word and Luther's doctrine’”, 
  • “close the door to the enthusiastic souls about to eat the Lutheran Church as carrion like eagles”,
  • “call the old venerable Church of the Reformation back to life here and build it.”     
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      I own a copy of Baseley's Der Lutheraner translations volumes 1-3.  Why would I purchase this book when the content is freely available in Google Books?  It is because the content of Baseley's translations is so rich in Lutheran teachings and history that it demands my attention when all other theological writings of our age oppress me. It is wonderful to read on a printed page, not just on a web page.  There is something of value to ink on paper... don't you agree? What a treasure it is to read through Fick's essay on the Marburg Colloquy and his masterful poem “I Am a Lutheran
      As I read Walther's remembrance of a farmer reciting Fick's poem “I am a Lutheran”, I thought of my farmer father's confession at a Bible study years ago: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)   —  In the next Part 8, we hear of Fick's first pastorate. Also I will review another LCMS historian's report on Walther's two biographies, but in quite a different way than by August Suelflow.

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