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Thursday, March 1, 2018

“Our Unforgettable Fick” #1, Walther's favorite pastor?

      When I first published the book on Luther's life from Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick, I knew it was a good book because I had read it and found that Fick, more so than later Missouri Synod writers on Luther, included the key doctrine of Justification, highlighting it especially as Luther used it to sweep away all other issues at the Diet of Regensburg in 1541. I had read practically all other books that had come from Missouri and had wished that A.L. Graebner and W.H.T. Dau had given more weight to this crucial doctrine.  But in my earlier years of a return to my Christian faith, the dear Pastor Fick confirmed that Walther's and Pieper's teaching of a Universal Justification, an Objective Justification, were only teaching exactly what Luther taught – a general forgiveness that is all that the Christian Church distributes today, as it announces the Gospel of free grace, or by the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. There is no “special forgiveness” beyond this. (For example, see previous blog).   So Hermann Fick moved into my reading room, even if he only wrote in the German language.
      August Suelflow († 1999), in his last major work, Servant of the Word: The Life and Ministry of C. F. W. Walther, gave the following information on the two biographies that Walther wrote (p. 143-144):
“Walther wrote two biographies of fellow pastors during his lifetime. The first was of his brother-in-law J. F. Buenger (1810-1882), titled Kurzer Lebenslauf des weiland ehrwürdigen Pastor Job. Friedr. Bünger, The second was of C. J. H. Fick (1822-1885). In writing these biographies, Walther paid tribute to close friends and co-workers. He portrayed these men—one a pastor and social service worker, the other a pastor and writer—as witnesses of Christ. The biographies were intended to instruct and edify their readers. … Several attempts were made to write about some aspects of the histo­ry of the Missouri Synod during Walther’s lifetime. His own contributions in the biographies of Buenger and Fick point in that direction.”
Regular readers of this blog will notice that the first biography of J. F. Buenger is targeted to be published by me or someone else in the not-to-distant future, especially since it had already been translated into English several decades ago – since 1973. But the other biography has languished untranslated – but no more.
      I am not publishing this biography for modern church historians, for their “research”.  It has not been “peer-reviewed” – Walther and Fick do not need that. I am presenting it as one of the great witnesses of a Christian son, pastor, writer, and defender of the Christian faith – a story to strengthen all Christians in their faith (especially me), so far as they are Christian.  Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick is no ordinary pastor, he is a model for every pastor today, here and now.  Would to God that some talented young Lutheran pastor or theologian would read this account of Hermann Fick and follow in his footsteps, as a truly Lutheran pastor and writer, even a poet. — Now I present the first installment:
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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 from vol. 42, #14, p. 105.
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In Memory of Our Unforgettable Fick.
(by C.F.W. Walther; Part 1)
Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick

If we have read an old good book, through which we have been
• awakened from our natural sorrows, or
•  strengthened in faith in the blessed knowledge, or
•  led back to the right way from the dangerous path to which we had fallen, or
•  freed of serious doubts and given certainty, or
•  filled with sweet consolation from sadness and temptation,

then, as a rule, we would like to know something of the man who wrote the book. Then we would like to know
•  when, where and how he lived, what he was,
•  what other books he had written,
•  if his conversion was consistent with his doctrine,
•  how he came to a true living faith,
•  what his life was like that he could write so extensively,
•  and finally whether he had remained faithful unto death, had died in his doctrine, and had gone to peace in the true faith and confession of Jesus Christ, his Savior.
If a book has made a deep impression on our hearts and had great influence on all our Christianity, we are interested in everything that we can learn about the person of the author who has become dear to us. Therefore our godly fathers, after the death of pious writers, so diligently described their lives; and we are now very pleased to receive, through these biographies, clues about men whose works are one of our greatest treasures on earth. Our fathers have with their biographies not only as the blessed authors of good writings placed a memorial to God the Lord, and would show how God wonderfully led them out of free mercy from youth, not only how of lost sinners made them blessed children of God, but also how He had equipped for Himself the efficient and faithful tools of His grace, and had used them to spread His kingdom of grace through their oral preaching in their life, as well as through their writings even after their death. With the description of their lives, they have also given the key to their Spirit-filled writings. [page 105, col. 2]

This is above all the purpose which urges the writer to impart something “to the memory of our unforgettable Fick” to the readers of our Der Lutheraner. To be sure, he was one of our most intimate, sincere, and most faithful friends whom we have ever had on earth, to whom we have much, much to thank. But the purpose of this “remembrance” is not only to discharge a debt of gratitude, but rather to give the reader the image of a man who has left such glorious writings and such precious songs to us and to the whole Church,  and thus to show the root of God's glory.  From these such refreshing fruits have grown.  At the same time our “remembrance” is to  make a small contribution to the future history of the orthodox Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
We would have gladly published a sketch of his life immediately after the blessed farewell of our friend, but precisely for that part of his life in which he was sought and found by God and made into an instrument of His grace, we lacked exact and certain information. We therefore turned to the relatives of the blessed one in Germany to receive information from them. It is true that we have had to wait a long time as a result of obstacles that have arisen, but at last we have received much richer material for the achievement of our purpose through the kindness of the closest relatives of the deceased, for which we hereby express our sincerest thanks to them.
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Oh!  Walther has made us sit up and take notice!  This Pastor Fick is not just an average writer, but he is of one of the greatest Christian writers of the last 200 years. Walther gave extra effort to tell the full story of Hermann Fick, taking time to gather "exact and certain information" of his early life in Germany before he began writing this biography.  And so we are to get ready, for we, as Christians, are in for a treat ... as we learn of the one of the greatest pastors of the old (German) Missouri Synod,
“whose works are one of our greatest treasures on earth.”
After reading Walther's full biography of Fick, I believe that he was indeed “Walther's favorite pastor”. —  In the next Part 2...
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      This biography is somewhat lengthy and will extend across many blog posts. In the following series, we will hear Walther speak on the following topics:
Fick in Germany • a father-son relation • close calls with indifferentism • German rationalism • Missionary desireWyneken's call to Americajourney to Americatime with Waltherwritings in Der Lutheraner / Baseley translationsCivil War consolation writingsFree-thinker / atheist Franz Schmidt & newspapers • Humorous satire • Poetry • Monkey Religion/evolution - Darwin & Co. (Negroes descended from monkeys) • Boston congregation (and its stresses)Other pastorates in America • Lutheran MartyrsMartin Luther’s Life • Luther’s chief doctrines (Justification, Antichrist)Papal abominations / Pope is the Antichrist • book –“There Is A God”the "lost" book – Der Heiden Weihnachten or The Gentile Christmas. • book on Luther's Small CatechismLast Hours, Funeral • Fick's monument–his writings
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Prologue - Fick's motto for book – Luther's distinguishes the true Antichrist
Part 1 – Walther's introduction to… his favorite pastor, C.J. Hermann Fick (this post)
Part 2 – Beginnings in Germany; counsel for parents
Part 3 – Walther exclaims: such a father! (Fick’s father)
Part 4 – pulled out of lukewarmness by… Luther!
Part 5 – Göttingen- mediating theologians; Gerhardt’s counsel; veiled Rationalism (of LC-MS)
Part 6 – Fick pulled back from brink; Wyneken's call to America; meets Sihler in Ft. Wayne
Part 7 – To St. Louis (w/ Walther); Der Lutheraner articles; poems,  “I Am a Lutheran”
Part 8 – New Melle, Mo. - congregation is free, supreme authority; C.S. Meyer- poor historian
Part 9 – Walther's doctrine of Church flourishes!; Atheist attacks
Part 10 – Atheists, free-thinkers; Lutheran Martyrs; “Missouri Nightingale” sings a parody, laughter!
Part 11 – America, new home; Lutherbuch, Luther–Justification (not Kolb/Arand); Fick forgotten by LC-MS
Part 12 – Collinsville; Abendschule editor; Civil War comfort; Monkey Religion
Part 13 – Boston; against Papacy; No God?; Catechism History
Part 14 – Last Days; Death; Funeral, Trowel, Sword, Staff; Last Poem
Part 15 – Epilogue–Last poem “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Easter 2018); also “I Am a Lutheran”

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