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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fick 9: Walther's doctrine of Church!; Atheist attacks

      This continues from Part 8 (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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      Walther practically startles us as he approvingly describes our Fick as a “foe of all priestly types”, confirming once again that he (Walther) was the greatest theologian since Martin Luther to highlight the importance of “the spiritual priesthood of all believers”.  —  After learning of a change of pastorate, his marriage, and another writing for Der Lutheraner, we are then introduced to the blasphemous hoax (from Germany) capitalized on by atheist free-thinkers in St. Louis.  And our Fick is primed to step onto the wider stage to defend Christianity.
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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 & 17, p. 122-123, 129.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 9, cont'd from Part 8)

So new now was much of what our beloved Fick heard and saw over here (who of course came from the state church), so soon he convinced himself not only that he had found here a church fellowship independent of the State, which, both in intention of doctrine as well as practice was strictly established in accordance with Biblical principles; but from then on he was able to thank God, even to his death, with all his soul, for having led him into a church of this very form. Believing in the Holy Scriptures as the Word of the Great God, and recognizing the symbolic books of our Church as the golden confession of the true Church of all time, the zeal of the Missouri Synod was to him for purity and unity in doctrine and practice not something repulsive, but rather it seemed to him the necessary seal of a true visible church whose member he wanted to be.

And since he had always been a foe of all priestly types from the beginning, the doctrine of our synod on the sovereignty of true Christians as the spiritual priesthood and of the Christian congregation as the original owner of all church power in their living faithful members seemed to him to be one the most precious gems of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.

As soon as Fick had returned home from the synodical assembly, he therefore wrote in the fire of first love [page 123, col. 1] those four glorious “Discussion of Two Lutherans on the Constitution of the Church”, which can be found in numbers 22 to 25 of the third year of our Der Lutheraner. [Baseley #22, #25]
On May 29, 1847 at the festival of Trinity Fick was ordained before his congregation in New Melle with commitment to the symbolic books of our church. He was  ordained by the blessed Fr. Bünger with the assistance of Schieferdecker, and solemnly introduced into his office. At that time, the congregation consisted of 60 families, mostly from the parishes of Melle and Buer in Osnabrück, who settled there and formed a Lutheran congregation.
After spending a year alone, solitary and alone, in great blessing, Fick experienced the truth of the divine Word: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). He became engaged therefore through Mr. Andreas Langbeins, a faithful member of the local Lutheran congregation, to his eldest daughter  Miss Henriette Langbein, and was blessed in marriage to her in the local Immanuel Church on May 10, 1848. From this marriage six children were born, of which, however two of them preceded their father into eternity in their early childhood. The children who have survived are two sons, both doctors of medicine, and two grown unmarried daughters.
Fick would, however, only lay the foundation in New Melle. In fact, in 1850 he received a call from a small congregation in Bremen near St. Louis, which consisted of only eight voting and almost entirely poor members, and a call which he felt to have penetrated to his conscience. Just at Bremen, at that time a suburb of St. Louis, a large German population retreated, so that even then it had the reputation that this city would become almost purely German. In addition, at that time rationalism, indeed atheism, was spreading, whose victims the Germans of Bremen seemed to want to become, unless a Lutheran congregation were founded here. Fick had the correct opinion that under certain circumstances a small congregation could be more important than a larger one, and that one had to take into consideration the future of a congregation if comparisons were to be made. *)
Thus Fick left his considerably larger congregation with their consent and did not care that in Bremen he could be granted a much lower salary and a much more limited house than his beloved New Melle had granted him. By the way, despite the small size of the new congregation, he had here more work instead of less than in New Melle, as his preaching office in Bremen was connected with a small, but still with a city-wide education office. **) With great loyalty now Fick here managed his new office quietly. He also saw his work crowned with God's blessing. The small congregation grew, internally and externally, albeit slowly but visibly and steadily. At the same time our Fick remained a hardworking contributor to Der Lutheraner.  From that time comes, among other things, the
*) Already a year ago, that Bremen congregation that started out so small contained 236 voting members and 1428 souls, and is currently the second largest Evangelical Lutheran congregation of St. Louis.
**) Already one year ago, the Bremen congregation had a four-class school organization with four teachers and 378 schoolchildren.

[page 129, col. 2] excellent essay “The Wittenberg Concord, Example of True Union”, which can be found in 1848, volume 4,  No 18, May 2, and No. 19, May 16. [Baseley translation, p. 139-141, 148-150.]
Franz Schmidt
“Free Men’s Society”

At that time, an atheist newspaper appeared in Bremen, which neighbored
St. Louis, under the title: “Free Paper. An organ for religious education. Published and edited by Franz Schmidt.” [Freie Blätter, WorldCat here and here] Blaspheming all saints, this so-called “Free Paper” set itself to the special task of proving that the Four Gospels of the New Testament are concoctions of a later time, and that the history of Christ contained in them is nothing but miserable inventions and fables. The so-called “Free Congregation” [Freie Gemeinde, search “Free Gemeinden” in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 2007], which had just been founded in St. Louis and the “Free Men’s Society” [Freie-Männer-Verein, search “Verein Freier Männer” in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 2007] at first mustered everything to spread the “Paper” among the Germans of St. Louis and Bremen. Now immediately Der Lutheraner [BTL: the “Old Lutherans” in St. Louis; see e.g. here. here. here.] stood up against the “Free Paper” and irrefutably proved with scientific reasons the groundlessness of Franz Schmidt's outrageous assertions in many lengthy articles.  

But when in the “Free Paper” readers were fooled that recently was found by an Abyssinian trading company at Alexandria, in a former monastic monastery, a scroll of parchment, derived from the Essene sect and containing reliable "historical revelations about the real mode of death of Jesus" [WorldCat], Fick realized that it was useless to disprove the miserable blasphemy with scientific weapons; for Schmidt's readers did not read such refutations, but also took the ridiculous allegations thereof for irrefutable evidence that the whole of Christianity is apparently built on nothing but lies and deceit.
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      There was a similar newspaper to Schmidt's Freie Blätter that was printed in Berlin Germany 3 years before (1848) edited by Adolf Glassbrenner, another German radical (full view in HathiTrust here).  I wonder that Schmidt took the name for his newspaper from this other German radical.  In Steven Rowan's translation of Henry Boernstein's Memoirs of a Nobody p. 232, the following additional information is given on Schmidt:
“Using the code name Theseus, he corresponded with the Communist Party Central Committee in Brussels while in St. Louis.”
There is no USA Wikipedia article on this Franz Schmidt (1818-1853), the political figure of both Germany and America, although there are others (here and here) with the same name.  But judging by the extensive German Wikipedia article on him, it almost seems that Germany now reveres this Franz Schmidt, although it expelled him in 1848.

Walther knew all about Communism and Socialism and their attacks on Christianity. He was asked by his St. Louis congregation in 1878 to give lectures on these ideologies which were subsequently published under the title Communismus und Socialismus.  There have been other writings against these but no one else presents the pure spiritual defense against them like Walther. The English translation of this work is still sold today here. I am considering publishing an improved edition of this translation since our modern world practically falls head-over-heels towards these ideologies.  — We are about to learn the rest of the story on Franz Schmidt, and a humorous defense against his blatant attacks on Christianity… in the next Part 10.

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