1959 – A Call for Decision……………………………………………p. 4
Another Memorial…………………………………………………….p. 6
A Report in Questions and Answers………………………………….p. 8
Before, During, and After……………………………………………p. 11
Christmas Devotion………………………………………………….p. 16
Short History of Our Synod…………………………………………p. 19
From the Bookshelves……………………………………………….p. 26

Fifty years ago, in 1959, the Wisconsin Synod convention was held to which the memorial, “A Call for Decision,” signed by 30 individuals, was submitted. This important document we reprint here from the proceedings, pp. 209-211. The floor committee’s report that was adopted by the convention included this: “Resolved, That the synod disavow the serious and repeated charges made in ‘A Call for Decision’ ….” After this convention, there were additional withdrawals from the synod.
Of the eight similar memorials printed on pp. 180-93 of the proceedings, including one from St. Paul’s of Austin, Minn. (L.W. Schierenbeck pastor) we also reprint the one that also has 30 signatures.
The document appearing on pp. 8-10 was prepared for his congregation in Nicollet, Minn., under date of Aug. 21, 1959, by Pastor Egbert Schaller. A copy was kindly provided to us from the archives of the Church of the Lutheran Confession by the former archivist; permission to reprint it in these pages was kindly granted by the current archivist. We are most deeply appreciative of these actions, which enable us to present to our readers two generations later this fine summary of the state of affairs after the 1959 WELS convention.
May the reminder of the stand taken by our fathers serve to create in us renewed dedication to God’s saving truth, for Jesus’ sake. RW

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year, payable to the Reformation Lutheran Conference. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]


Under date of June 27, 1958, a letter signed by the members of the Protest Committee, Wisconsin Synod, was addressed to “The Protesting Brethren of the Ev. Luth. Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States.”
The letter was in large part based upon, and contained an endorsement of, a document which accompanied it and which was subsequently sent to all pastors and teachers of our synod under the title, A Report to the Protest Committee.
The latter document, under Section II, third paragraph, page four in our copy, the following sentence appeared: “Termination of church fellowship is called for when you have reached the conviction that admonition is of no further avail and that the erring brother or church body demands recognition for their error.”
This statement is basic to the entire issue which called forth the document. We hold that it is false and unscriptural, and that the argument based upon it is rationalistic and untenable. We ask the synod to disavow it.
For the purpose of clarifying our objection, we submit the following as a true and correct statement of the doctrinal issue involved: Termination of church fellowship is called for when scriptural correction has been offered and rejected and the erring brother or church body have continued in their error despite admonition. This is the persistence which distinguishes an errorist (Rom. 16:17-18) from an erring brother (Gal. 2:11-14).

We reject as unscriptural any interpretation or application of Rom. 16:17-18 which expressly or by implication equates the action required by this passage with that enjoined in Mt 18:17; I Cor. 5:11-13, or any other passage of Holy Writ dealing with excommunication. The persistence implicitly defined in Rom. 16:17 is not to be measured by the impenitence of those who persist, but by the fact of their persisting; and the word “avoid” is not identical in meaning, scope, or direction with the term “excommunicate.” It is manifest that one cannot excommunicate an entire church body, or declare it to be impenitent.
In consequence, we also reject the principle which accords to human judgment the task of determining when Rom. 16:17-18 applies “conclusively” to an individual or a church body, and requires “a conviction that admonition is of no further avail.” No such provision is to be found in the text. It is imported from passages dealing with the gaining of an impenitent sinner and is utterly irrelevant here. To adduce it is in violation of accepted principles of Bible interpretation. In Rom. 16:17-18 the sole responsibility of human reason is to recognize the fact that the erring one continues in his error while rejecting previous admonition.
We reject the notion that the action required by Rom. 16:17 depends upon clairvoyance, namely the ability to determine the future fate of admonition. One who persistently causes divisions and offenses is marked, not when we are convinced “that admonition is of no further avail,” but when the evidence shows that despite admonition the erring has persisted and does persist in holding to his error. The text demands Christian awareness, not divination. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).
We affirm that a rejection of admonition is the equivalent of a demand for recognition of error. We disavow as sophistry any effort to restrict the concept of persistence to an instance where a formal demand for acceptance of error is made. The text speaks of cases where, scriptural admonition having been disallowed, the error continues to be propounded and practiced.

We herewith implore our synod to recognize both the scriptural validity of this our confession and the untenable nature of the “termination of fellowship” thesis advanced by the synod’s Protest Committee. We affirm that the document entitled A Report to the Protest Committee is in its nature and content divisive, despite its conciliatory tone, because it does violence to clear Scripture. In its historical presentation, the Report distorts plain, documented facts relative to the action of the Saginaw convention of 1955. We consider this distortion of historical facts to be a lesser offense, however, than the abuse of Scripture upon which it is based. Against this we are bound to contend for the truth.

Dear brethren,
“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Is. 66:2). God’s Word requires nothing less than implicit obedience.
It was love for the truth of God’s Word and love for the erring brethren that moved our synod to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod “with all longsuffering and doctrine,” for departing from the scriptural position it shared with us for years. This admonition continued for many years. Our synod properly employed Rom. 16:17-18, stating in unmistakable words that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod had “created divisions and offenses not in accord with Scripture,” and continues to do so. The Saginaw indictment of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is as clear as language can make it, and no subsequent interpretations of the resolution that followed can affect it.
Synod, however, failed to follow through with the injunction to “avoid,” even after having declared in 1953 that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod had “by its persistent adherence to unionistic practices … brought about the present break in relations” (Proc. 1953, p. 104). Our synod failed in 1955, after declaring that “The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod had by its official resolution[s?], policies, and practices created divisions and offenses” (Proc. 1955, p. 85). Also in 1957, our synod failed to follow through with the injunction of Scripture to “avoid,” when it spoke of “… the continuation of offenses, with which we have charged the sister synod, Rom. 16:17-18,” the appended “Note” to the contrary notwithstanding (Proc. 1957, p. 144). Three successive times, therefore, synod chose to go the way human policy dictated – not God’s way.
For the sake of the unity in the Wisconsin Synod on the basis of the Word of God, we, the undersigned, therefore, plead that synod recognize that further discussion in the Joint Union Committee constitutes a denial of the truth in view of the fact that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod continues in the offenses and has never acknowledged that the issues are divisive. Discussion under these circumstances cannot be termed admonition but at best negotiation. Such negotiating on a fellowship basis is nothing less than disobedience to God’s Word.
We further plead that, in obedience to God’s Word, synod sever fellowship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri synod as required under the circumstances by Rom. 16:17-18. Our failure to do so in the past has had this twofold effect: The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has been encouraged to continue in the offenses, and we have grievous dissension in our own midst. This dissension can only become more serious unless we implicitly obey the Word of God.
It is our fervent hope and prayer that our Wisconsin Synod will speedily return to a firm scriptural stand, where all of us will again speak the same thing, where there will be no divisions among us, and where we will be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. I Cor. 1:10.
We take for granted that our synodical representatives be ready to discuss these issues with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod as soon as it recognizes them as divisive, in the hope of re-establishing unity in doctrine and practice.
Finally, we wish to have it known that we subscribe to the doctrinal statement on this issue that is being submitted in another memorial, viz., “Termination of church fellowship is called for when scriptural correction has been offered and rejected and the erring brother or church body have continued in their error despite admonition. This is the persistence which distinguishes an errorist (Rom. 16:17-18) from an erring brother (Gal. 2:11-14).”

Quotations of interest

From still another memorial (1959 convention proceedings, p.183): “To this end we plead that there be no limitation of discussion which is to the point, and that in regard to statements that are misleading or that are contrary to Scriptures or contrary to facts, made in essays or on the floor of the convention, permission be granted immediately to correct such statements.”
“From another direction it has been argued, rather naively, that synod could not have intended to find Missouri guilty in the sense of Rom. 16:17 as of then because, had that been the meaning, synod would have sinned in deferring suitable action. Naturally this begs the question. … The hidden premise that synod could not have sinned is pre-sumptuous.” (Booklet #3 of The Writings of Prof. Egbert Schaller (“The ‘Status Controversiae’ Within the Synodical Conference,” 1958), p. 35)

Question 1: What did the Wisconsin Synod, at its recent convention in Saginaw, Mich., decide about its relations with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod?
Answer: The synod decided, by majority vote, to continue in fellowship relations with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and to continue the discussions being carried on by a committee of each synod concerning the issues that divide us, “until agreement on doctrine and practice has been reached.” (No time limit was set.)
Question 2: Does this action of the synod mean that the unscriptural policies and practices of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (against which our synod has protested during the past 20 years) have been put aside and discontinued?
Answer: No, it does not mean that. For the convention also admitted that “many offenses of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which have brought about the troubled conditions in the Synodical Conference, have not been removed and have been aggravated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s reaffirmation of their position on Scouting ….”
Question 3: Is Scouting the only offense of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod which is continuing and has been aggravated (made worse)?
Answer: No. At its San Francisco convention in June the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod not only reaffirmed its wrong position on Scouting, but also its false doctrine of Antichrist. It also declared that the Common Confession is to be one of the confessional statements of the church that must guide its pastors and teachers in their teaching and preaching. And by encouraging the work of its Armed Services Commission, it reaffirmed its offensive Chaplaincy practice.
Question 4: Why, then, did our synod determine to continue in fellowship relations with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and what reasons did it give to justify such continuance?
Answer: The reasons given were that “the Missouri Synod Doctrinal Unity Committee has shown a receptive attitude toward our testimony”; that the Missouri committee has with our committee approved a correct statement on Holy Scripture and one on the doctrine of Antichrist; and that disciplinary action has been taken against certain professors in the Missouri Synod accused of teaching error.
Question 5: Are these things really so, and are they good?
Answer: We may believe them to be true, and find in them cause for thanksgiving. We can and should rejoice whenever any Christian church body does or says something that is in accord with the truth.
But it must be noted, for instance, that a correct doctrinal statement on Antichrist was accepted only by the doctrinal committee, and not acted upon by the synod. Instead, the convention at San Francisco reaffirmed the false doctrine of Antichrist adopted three years ago.
Doctrinal discipline may be in action against certain false teachers within the Missouri Synod. But we have seen no public correction or retraction, thus far, of their errors.
It should also be remembered that our synod has never raised public charges against the errors of individuals within the Missouri Synod. Our synod has only protested public offenses against pure doctrine and practice caused by the Missouri Synod itself, and approved by it. Which of these has been admitted, corrected, or set aside?
Question 6: Do the good things that are listed, insofar as they have really taken place, justify our synod in continuing in fellowship relations with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod?
Answer: Again we must repeat what our synod itself said at its convention, namely, that “many offenses of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod … have not been removed and have been aggravated ….”
Because of these same offenses, our Standing Committee on Church Union told the convention of our synod, held four years ago, in 1955: “In our dealings with our sister synod (Missouri) we have been earnestly endeavoring to heed the scriptural exhortations to patience and forbearance in love. We have, however, arrived at the firm conviction that, because of the divisions and offenses that have been caused, and which have until now not been removed, further postponement of a decision would be a violation of the apostolic injunction of Rom. 16:17 (I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them).”
This statement of our Committee on Church Union, made in 1955, was true and correct. It was scriptural. However, the convention of 1955 refused to follow that direction; and the synod has refused to follow it ever since.
Question 7: What has been done about this?
Answer: In the past four years, many members of synod have tried in every way to admonish the synod to obey the clear Word of God that deals with this matter. More than 50 pastors, teachers, and professors of synod, including your own pastor, as well as some congregations and laymen, had again written to the leaders and delegates at the convention this year, pleading that the synod return to the principles of Scripture and sever fellowship relations with the synod that is causing divisions and offenses. But these urgings were not heeded by the majority.
Question 8: How was the convention able to resist such requests?
Answer: The official representatives of synod had voiced a different rule in regard to fellowship relations with other church bodies. Their position can be summed up in their own words: “Termination of church fellowship is called for when you have reached the conviction that admonition is of no further avail and that the erring brother or church body demands recognition for their error.” This principle the convention adopted. It is false and unscriptural.
Question 9: Why is it false and unscriptural?
Answer: Because in teaching us when to avoid erring church bodies, Scripture says nothing about “reaching the conviction that admonition is of no further avail.” Therefore also the Standing Committee in 1955, as above shown, did not mention that, but declared that when divisions and offenses continue after the erring has been admonished, it is time to avoid. It is not our business to reach a conviction about whether more admonition would be profitable or might accomplish the purpose. Nor is it our business to stop admonishing after we have terminated fellowship relations. But it is our duty to terminate fellowship when the erring has been corrected and does not stop giving offense with his error.
Question 10: Was all this brought to the attention of the convention?
Answer: It was, in writing and by word of mouth. It has been repeatedly explained through the years since 1955. But the synod, under its present leadership, did not heed it. Indeed, there is evidence that many were impatient and resentful of scriptural correction and made no effort to give it a full hearing.
Question 11: What is the result?
Answer: The result is that the synod, by continuing in fellowship with a persistently erring church body, in spite of admonition, has itself become guilty of persisting in causing divisions and offenses contrary to the truth.

BEFORE To remind ourselves of the atmosphere of Wisconsin Synod z conventions in the 1950s, here are excerpts from reports in the Northwestern Lutheran, beginning with the 1953 convention in Watertown, Wis.

“As word had been passed around previously that the committee would report, the auditorium of the gym was crowded with visitors, and the atmosphere was tense. … The committee’s recommendations were debated heatedly for the next three and one-half sessions, including an evening session. Judging from the general tenor of the remarks made, one would say that there was virtual agreement that Missouri had indeed brought friendly relations between the synods to the breaking point by her liberalism. … After a day and a half of discussion a motion prevailed to refer the question of church union to a special convention this fall.” (Sept. 6, 1953; pp. 280-81)

At the special convention in Milwaukee on Oct. 8-9, 1953, the synod resolved to declare “that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod … has brought about the present break in relations that is threatening the existence of the Synodical Conference and the continuance of our affiliation with the sister synod.” The accompanying explanation of this and other resolutions provided by E.E. Kowalke and E. Reim includes this: “By resolution the synod approved the protest of our representatives made after the 1952 convention of the Synodical Conference. It also said that during this period of waiting ‘we remain in a state of confession.’” (Nov. 1, 1953; p. 344. Some information about this state of confession, including a document by E. Schaller proposing taking the action described in II Thess. 3:6-15, is contained in the 1996-4 issue of the LCCF Newsletter. See p. 25 below for a brief excerpt.)

The 1955 convention in Saginaw, Mich., deferred action on termination until 1956. “The convention’s floor committee of 22 members studied all pertinent reports and memorials. It held open hearings at which all interested persons could offer suggestions and state viewpoints. At one such hearing 183 people were in attendance. After seven days and nights of work the floor committee presented its report consisting of a historical summary, a preamble, and a set of resolutions. Before floor debate began, delegates were given an evening to weigh the report in private deliberation and informal discussion. For a full morning and afternoon the convention considered the matter. When finally the list of speakers was fully covered, the major item of the report … [deferring until 1956 action on a resolution to terminate fellowship with Missouri] was adopted by a vote of 94 to 47.
“The saddest minutes of the convention came when, following this vote, some 40 delegates and visitors recorded their dissent, among them certain influential men in synod. Those in dissent protested against the time lapse before action on terminating fellowship and voiced their conviction that such action should be taken immediately. A similar dissent had been registered by seven members of the floor committee. Such disagreement in a matter of major importance cannot but grieve all members of synod. That was already obvious from the serious and sad tones in which the dissents were voiced and from the heavy hearts and depressed spirits with which they were received.” (Sept. 4, 1955; pp. 277-78)

The 1956 recessed convention held in abeyance until 1957 the 1955 judgment that divisions and offenses caused by Missouri necessitated termination of fellowship. “In addition to district resolutions and majority and minority reports a from the Standing Committee on Matters of Church Union, the Watertown [Wis.] convention had at hand numerous communications, memorials, and protests dealing with the problem it was considering. These materials were reviewed by a floor committee of 22 members in a lengthy open hearing and frequent executive sessions. On the third and last day of the meeting shortly before the noon recess, this committee’s report was presented. It was discussed a full afternoon and evening. At midnight a vote by roll call was taken. The amended report was adopted by a vote of 108 to 19, with 38 delegates either absent or abstaining and with several advisory delegates recording their dissent.” One of the resolutions was that “our fellowship with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod be one of vigorously protesting fellowship to be practiced, where necessary, in the light of II Thess. 3:14-15.” (Sept. 16, 1956; p. 294)

1957: “The delegates’ interest in the open meeting of floor committee no. 2, which was appointed to present a report on the matter of church union to the convention, indicated the degree of their concern with the problem. The large meeting room was crowded, and other delegates gathered in the hall outside the room to hear the discussion.
“By Monday hundreds of visitors had reached New Ulm [Minn.]. At the close of the evening session, the long-awaited report of the floor committee reached the convention floor. As the chairman, Pastor Walter Pankow of New London, Wis., read the report in calm, measured tones, there was an intent silence in the hall. When the reading was finished, there was a hush as each listener weighed the committee recommendation – a break with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
“Part of Tuesday morning was devoted to a discussion of the report. The discussion was resumed during the Wednesday morning session; throughout the afternoon and evening there was a lively debate on the committee recommendation. At the afternoon recess there was a waiting list of 24 speakers, even though the five-minute limit had been imposed on each speaker prior to this time. Several hours later there were still 24 waiting for their opportunity to express their views to the convention. After supper a two-minute limit was put into effect. Yet the succession of speakers moving over to the microphones continued until 10 o’clock. Then the convention felt that the matter had been thoroughly discussed. No one was requesting a chance to be heard. The convention had talked itself out.
“When the standing vote of the delegates had been taken, the count showed 61 in favor of a break with the Missouri Synod at this time; 77 opposed it. There were eight who abstained from voting. …
“During the next two years our fellowship with the Missouri Synod is, by resolution of the convention, to remain one of vigorous protest ….” (Sept. 1, 1957; pp. 284-85)

The report in 1959 no longer conveys the same sense of crisis. The action is summarized as follows: “Thus our relationship to The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod remains what it has been the past few years: a fellowship in the Synodical Conference but on a vigorously protesting basis.” (Sept. 13, 1959; p. 300) Even in E.C. Fredrichs’ The Wisconsin Synod Lutherans and Mark Braun’s A Tale of Two Synods, there is quite little about the 1959 convention. (The former, by the way, in its account of the 1955 convention, reports that “some 50 convention delegates formally protested the vote postponement to a special convention to be held in 1956 after Missouri’s had met,” p. 204.)
DURING “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark those who, contrary z to the doctrine which you learned, cause divisions and offenses ….” Is Rom. 16:17 perhaps to be translated and understood in that way? So some have argued, often proceeding to limit in some way the divisions and offenses whose causers are to be avoided.

That the answer to this is no is demonstrated in detail in a magnificent 32-page booklet that provides us with a model of careful and penetrating grammatical analysis and that received wide distribution in the Synodical Conference around the middle of the previous century. Written by Prof. Robert G. Hoerber, it is entitled “A Grammatical Study of Romans 16:17” (first edition, 1947; second printing, 1963; published by the Lutheran Synod Book Company, Mankato, Minn.). After showing that the phrase beginning with “contrary” is to be linked, not with the causing (which would make it an adverbial phrase), but with the divisions and offenses (which makes it an adjectival phrase), Hoerber writes in his conclusion (p. 31): “St. Paul is admonishing the Christians at Rome to avoid, not all who cause divisions and offenses, but those who cause the divisions and offenses contrary to the teaching – not contrary to any teaching, but to the teaching which they learned from him and the other apostles.”

That this booklet is still known in some quarters is evident from the reference made to it in footnote 39 of a 1999 Missouri Synod document on admission to the Lord’s Supper. And we have heard of Lutherans in Australia who have given it close attention. But we have also encountered a case or two suggesting that familiarity with it is not as widespread anymore as might be wished. It is truly a gem; if you should ever run across a copy, by all means snap it up.

AFTER A study of subsequent interactions between the CLC and
z the WELS and ELS would doubtless be a worthwhile undertaking. Possibly further comment on them can eventually be offered in these pages. At the moment we will simply mention that Prof. em. John Lau, for many years writer, managing editor, and then editor-in-chief of the CLC’s Journal of Theology, has published a collection of his writings in a book titled Apologia (undated). Included are the numerous articles he wrote on the difference between the CLC and WELS, including those written during and after the series of meetings from 1987-1990 between representatives of the CLC and the WELS and ELS. Another book of interest, expected to be available in 2010, is a history of the CLC by Prof. em. David Lau. We learned of this from p. 11 of the 2009-1 issue of the Journal of Theology, a CLC publication that is offering introductory chapters of that work in this year’s issues.

Along with mention of those two books, we offer two quotations of special interest from WELS sources. The first, a candid admission of lack of unity, is from an essay by Forward in Christ editor, John Braun, that was published in the 2006-2 issue of the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly (p. 109): “We have a tension created by differences of opinion concerning these matters and we have a tension involved with the discussion and resolution of these issues. I sense two opposing forces marshalling for some future showdown.”

In further illustration of this situation, we have the unmistakable and well-aimed finger-pointing in the following remarks at the conclusion of Pastor James Langebartels’ introduction to his translation of Heinrich Schmid’s History of Pietism, published by NPH in 2007. “In the 1570s, the hidden Reformed roots had to be concealed, for as soon as they were exposed, the controversy was at an end; hence Crypto-Calvinism. Much less concealment was practiced in the case of Pietism. Reformed books and practices were openly recommended. Today we have advanced to such an extent that we can use Reformed materials, principles, and practices without harming our Lutheranism – or so we think. We think we can ‘spoil the Egyptians’ of their useful practices while retaining a Lutheran emphasis on ‘using the gospel.’ Hence this study of Pietism is necessary and useful and practical also today.”

In these quotations is striking evidence of what the heart of the problem has been in WELS for half a century: They did not have to separate from error.

Also of special interest is the following remark in an article by Pastor Daniel Fleischer currently on the website of the CLC congregation in Corpus Christi, Texas, that gives an overview of dealings between the CLC and WELS: “The CLC encourages and works with members [emphasis added] to help them out of the ‘faith-based’ organization that Thrivent claims it is. The WELS does not.”

The afternoon sun shines gray upon the shallow spot in the Jordan where the road fords the river before dividing into two branches. Mary’s eyes follow the curving path as it leaves the main Jerusalem route to turn southward, bypassing the great city. In all likelihood this would be the way that Joseph chose. Not through the swarming streets of Jerusalem, not through its teeming markets and busy gates, but along the forbidding valley of Jehoshaphat beneath the eastern walls of the city the Virgin rides upon her patient beast. She is not well, and Bethlehem lies seven long miles beyond. She seeks no public acclaim; her search is for journey’s end, for rest and seclusion.

The night has fallen now, and Joseph knocks at the door of the inn. Candle light gleams through the shutters, and in the opened door there is a voice – an impatient, uninterested voice. No room! Back to Jerusalem, then? No. Better the warm stable, the straw and hay, for the hour is come. It is the greatest hour the Church has known, in which her King comes to her. As the life of the world rumbles faintly by outside, the Light of the world is born. And the only publicity accorded the event comes from the sweet spirits of a heavenly chorus and from the astonished lips of simple shepherds who later “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” Rather poor, inexpert publicity – but eventually the news got around quite well, didn’t it?

Many years later there was a young man of note living in Nazareth. Since He was “the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,” His mother might have felt justified in planning to call in the representatives

*Under the heading, “From a Wider Field,” this article by Egbert Schaller, reserved for this year-end issue as explained on p. 2 of our 2009-1 issue, appeared in the Dec. 18, 1949, issue of the Northwestern Lutheran. We are profoundly grateful for the kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House to reprint this, as well as the articles by Schaller that follow it in this issue.
of church and world for an interview. But again there is only a solitary voice – “of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” God chose His herald to announce the redeeming ministry of His Son, and He would have no other. The men of the world were not asked for a testimonial, nor did the Most High request free advertising. The Person and Message of God’s Son must make their own way. Nobody thought of offering publicity, either, until Pilate one Friday morning hung a sign on the Cross. He did it disdainfully, spitefully.

And then came Resurrection Day. The world had its reporters on hand in the person of soldiers guarding the tomb, who promptly went into a huddle with the chief priests and came up with a sort of press release which said: “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept.” That was the extent of the world’s bulletin service on the second supreme event of the century; and of course it was a garbled, false report. It did not require or deserve a counter-communique.

As usual, God addressed the world only through the mouth of faithful witnesses who could not help “but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So “they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20) The wholesome growth of the Church resulted; in a world otherwise totally uninformed and undisturbed by any ecclesiastical press-agentry, the true Church grew, and thus it will continue to grow today.

When we review the written evidence upon which our knowledge of New Testament history rests, we are startled to find that the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists, namely the Holy Scriptures, are the only real sources of information we possess regarding the historic facts and deeds of God’s work of redemption. So far as we know, not even a real effort was made by worldly writers of the first century to record the beginnings of the Christian Church or its meaning to the world. Nor was any effort needed.

Dr. W. Arndt, in his New Testament history, puts it thus: “We see that Christ and His apostles did not have startling publicity when the Church was founded. No pamphlets were written by famous publicists and spread far and wide in the whole civilized world announcing that now a new era had begun and the great work of redemption had just been performed. And when the world could no longer afford to ignore the Christian religion, its remarks about were largely contemptuous sneers and ridicule. The Gospel, it is important to remember, made its way through the power of God, which is inherent in it.” That is indeed well said, and often too poorly remembered and applied in our day.

The Kingdom of God in its greatest era never had the kind of publicity which in some circles is today mistakenly regarded as essential to the work and welfare of the Church. Modern publicity campaigns of religious groups which enlist the high-pressure facilities and cooperation of the world seem designed chiefly to maintain public interest in a certain church body, rather than in the Church. And shouting of that kind may reflect an inner weakness.

If we have an impulse to shout, let us harness our voice to the glad tidings of God, the hidden wisdom of Christ, the blessed Gospel. Our command is to preach from the housetops. The advertising modeled after the world’s garish tastes tends only to glorify men and breeds notoriety; the advertising done by preaching the Gospel simply and without fanfare produces Christians and populates the Church, which is so designed that it develops in inconspicuous silence, even as the Savior Himself declared, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” Mt. 13:33.

The finest Church promotion campaign on earth is both defined and instituted by the words of the General Prayer in our Order of Morning Service: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, to preserve and extend Thy kingdom of grace and to grant unto Thy holy Church throughout the world purity of doctrine and faithful pastors, who shall preach Thy Word with power; and help all who hear rightly to understand and truly to believe it.”

THE FIRST BEGINNINGS They were missionaries three who came z to America to preach the Gospel; and none of them remained here very long after they had founded the Wisconsin Synod. The first perished at sea in 1858; the second died in Milwaukee in 1867; and the third shortly returned to his native Germany. But in the years of our Lord 1849 and 1850 they joined hands and congregations, creating the new church body which today publishes this centennial issue to commemorate its first beginnings. And this is how it was:

At Barmen, one of the many missionary institutes which flourished in Germany at the time, Johann Weinmann was doing post-graduate work; and Candidate of Theology W. Wrede of Magdeburg, having completed his training, was serving a congregation in Pomerania, when the Langenburg Mission Society for the Germans in America decided to send a detachment of three missionaries abroad. Weinmann and Wrede were persuaded to accept such a commission and left from the docks of Bremen on July 9, 1846.

A dispatch from Barmen, meanwhile, had advised Johann Muehlhaeuser, a considerably older and more experienced Barmen worker in New York, of the imminent arrival of the new missionary contingent. Muehlhaeuser met the voyagers and provided for them. But soon duty separated the three. Wrede accepted a call to Callicoon, New York, while Weinmann, in answer to a pleading letter, came to the territory of Wisconsin. Here, at Oakwood near Milwaukee, a Lutheran congregation had been left without a shepherd after their pastor had disgraced his office by a shameful life. The group of 300 souls happily

*Under this heading, six articles appear in the May 21, 1950, issue of the Northwestern Lutheran. In addition to the three (the first, second, and fifth of the six) by Egbert Schaller that appear here as tying in, because of their historical content and concluding ringing appeal for steadfastness, with this issues’s material on 1959, there are also: “Great Difficulties,” “The Mission Zeal of the Fathers,” and “1850: The Organization of Our Synod 1850: The Setting, The Heritage.”
welcomed Weinmann as a gift of God, and he settled down as overseer of this flock, which later held the distinction of being the oldest congregation of the Wisconsin Synod.

Then came Muehlhaeuser. Weinmann prevailed upon his new friend to leave New York State and resume his calling as a traveling missionary in the Milwaukee area, where, beginning in the summer of 1848, he went about with Bibles and tracts until illness forbade further strenuous travel. Encouraged by two English sectarian clergymen, a Presbyterian and a Congregationalist, Muehlhaeuser began to serve the Germans in a section of Milwaukee. A hall was rented, and a new Lutheran congregation established in October of 1848. Incorporated in the following year, it was called, and still is known today as, the “Gnadengemeinde,” or Grace Church, of the Wisconsin synod.

The reader will now be waiting for the third man to appear on the scene; and the wish is herewith gratified. Pastor Wrede arrived from Callicoon, New York, in 1849 and accepted the pastorate of an established congregation at Granville, five miles north of Milwaukee.

The three friends were neighbors, drawn together by their common origin and the needs of men laboring with the Gospel in a pioneer age and area. What was more natural than that they should work together, consolidate their strength, and seek to rivet their congregations in the same bond which united them? The meeting which they finally arranged at Grace Church on Dec. 8, 1849, was certainly an event that seemed of very little importance either to the world or to the Church; yet it was on that day, in that place, that the Wisconsin Synod was born. In its organization the manpower supply became totally exhausted: Muehlhaeuser was elected president, Weinmann secretary, Wrede treasurer. This little synod planned for its full and formal organization by arranging a convention for May 27th of the coming year at Granville.

In the ensuing five months, a Pastor Paul Meiss of Schlesingerville, with seven congregations in his parish, and Kaspar Pluess of Sheboygan with four congregations, sought admission to the synod. Meanwhile, Muehlhaeuser was serving a second small congregation, Weinmann also, and Wrede had three. So that, when the brethren came to Granville, five pastors and 18 congregations were represented in the adoption of the constitution which Pastor Muehlhaeuser had prepared. As President Bading would say, 25 years later: “In humble unpretentiousness this work originated, through difficult and dangerous times it had to pass; yet it is established among us unto this day.”

STRIVING FOR In the year that found the young synod DOCTRINAL PURITY mourning the death of its most cherished zzz founding father Muehlhaeuser, the con-vention of 1868 heard its president, John Bading, address the delegates in serious words which set forth as in a summary the record of our synod’s early striving toward the full light of a purity in doctrine and practice which was not hers at the beginning. President Bading said:

“For years we suffered the accusations of strict confessional Lutherans who, because of our connection with friends of the Union (united church in Germany), charged us with harboring a unionistic attitude. Our confessional faithfulness was questioned, our synod was designated as unLutheran, and everything was done to challenge our right of existence as a Lutheran body.

“Let us openly and frankly confess that, while many of the reproaches heaped upon us were extreme, unjust, hateful, and not according to the love which edifies, some were undeniably justified. It is true that for some time our position was a vacillating one. On the one hand, there was our declaration of unqualified adherence to all the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church, as expressed by synod almost annually; on the other hand, there was our connection with associations which operated within the United Church and which regard that body as a good thing …. Especially did the sense of obligation for help received (from those German mission associations) prevent the synod from giving adequate public expression of her inner confessional fidelity and from refuting charges of unionistic inclinations by unequivocal testimony against all unionism in doctrine and practice. These inconsistencies, worthy brethren of the ministry and of faith, must come to an end.”

This call to confessional stability suggests the inner struggles which gripped the young synod in its infant years. The founders had been men trained in Germany, where in those days Lutheranism suffered under the blight of the Union by which people of Reformed and Lutheran convictions were compelled to worship together and to tolerate one another’s doctrines.

Taught to regard the rationalistic unbelief and the ever militant Roman Catholicism as the dangerous enemies of the truth, men like Muehlhaeuser and his companions failed to recognize the seriousness of the errors of the Reformed Churches and did not hesitate to cooperate with Methodists, Congregationalists, and others in church work or to recognize them as brethren. This weakness in confessionalism, then, naturally became the weakness also of the synod which they founded. Though it professed adherence to the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions, in practice it departed from them and tolerated fellowship with errorists. As a result, the sound, orthodox Lutherans of that day, chiefly those of the Missouri Synod, refused to accept our synod as a true Lutheran body.

But by God’s gracious guidance and intervention, the testimony of sound doctrine and practice became ever more loud and insistent within the growing synod. When Pastor Weinmann, who had meanwhile been called to Baltimore, addressed the synod by letter in 1854, he asked some pointed questions and requested the body to decide them. May a Lutheran pastor, in charge of a congregation of his own, administer the Lord’s Supper to a Methodist congregation? Is it right for him to lecture occasionally to such a congregation and thus to identify himself doctrinally with it?

These questions indicate in some measure how seriously the sin of unionism was impairing the spiritual health and undermining the Lutheranism of synod; but they also show that men were searching and groping toward confessional purity. And while in 1854 the synod could still not agree on the proper answers to Weinmann’s questions, while indeed the majority still held to a unionistic position, a ferment was in process which drove men to a re-appraisal of their position in the light of Scripture and Confessions.

As the synod grew numerically, it gained into membership a group of men who labored with ever increasing determination for the cause of sound Lutheranism; and their influence through the Word of God gradually became dominant. It was not an easy or a painless advance. There were bitter controversies and sad separations. But it is only so, by the surgery of discipline and the conviction of gainsayers, that the cancer of unionism can be rooted out and the church enjoy a healthy growth. Eventually, as President Bading insisted they must, “those inconsistencies” came to an end. But let us be mindful of the pain and labor by which our fathers in Christ wrought for us the goodly heritage of confessional purity which we today enjoy, and against the loss of which we owe the dedication of our best energies and earnest prayers.

OUR SYNOD TODAY From small beginnings and through many zzzz adversities, the Wisconsin Synod has grown to its present stature under the gracious care of its Master. With 297,922 souls listed in its records as of Jan. 1, 1949, when the latest statistics were compiled, synod carries on its work through the support of 211,030 communicant members who are assembled in 833 congregations and served by 620 pastors. As of last year, within 14 states of the union, Canada, and Germany, synod was maintaining 239 mission parishes and 155 missionaries. Approximately 6½ million dollars a year are contributed by our Christians for all church purposes.

A consistent interest of synod in the work of Christian education has resulted through the years in the present system of educational facilities by which the faith of many hearts has been and is being established upon a firm foundation. Within our body, 444 teachers are now serving the 14,928 children enrolled in 204 day schools. Christian high schools are available to our youth in a number of areas. Expansion programs now underway are designed to increase the flow of trained teachers as well as pastors into the Lord’s service. Dr. Martin Luther College of New Ulm, Minn., will house over 400 students next year, many of whom will devote themselves to the teaching and preaching ministry. Ours is the only synod of the Synodical Conference maintaining an institution where the full college course is available; graduates of Northwestern College, Watertown, Wis., receive a B.A. degree. Within two years the Normal Department at New Ulm will offer a four-year course and a degree of B.E. to the graduate.

The constantly expanding field of synod’s mission endeavor is an indication of spiritual health. Today, more than ever, synod is engaged in enlarging its borders, both at home and abroad. Foreign missions, it is true, are still limited largely to the work being done in Nigeria and to the picking up of the threads of the former Poland field among the displaced persons in Germany. The modest size of synod as compared with that of other bodies indicates the reason for its restricted program of foreign work. Yet new African and Mexican mission projects are under discussion and our missionaries are beginning to appear in states heretofore not touched by our efforts.

It is difficult to rid the human mind of the superstition that size is the measure of greatness; and thus, to many, our synod is an unimpressive body which at its hundredth anniversary merits less than a passing glance. We, however, think of our synod in different terms and measure it by a different standard. Though there be many defects and sins, both of omission and of commission, in the record of its past, though its present spirit of devotion leaves much to be desired because of fleshly weakness, yes, because of attacks of pride and lovelessness, though it has not always dealt in consistent faithfulness with its Lord or its brethren, synod stands with penitent heart in the Word and accepts with uncompromising firmness the grace by which it has been entrusted with the unchangeable truth of the Gospel.

For to this our synod, unworthy though it be, has been called and led. In an age of utmost apostasy, of blatant indifference toward purity of doctrine and hostility toward those who hold to an inflexible form of sound words, the Wisconsin Synod lifts its voice with the Formula of Concord and declares, saying: “We have no intention of yielding ought of the eternal, immutable truth of God for the sake of temporal peace, tranquility, and unity.” This, as we are well aware, is an invitation to conflict; for the eternal truth of God is ever an embattled citadel to be defended at enormous cost. But it is also the way of true peace. Our synod realizes that the truth is not of her making; it belongs to Christ the Redeemer, in whose service we stand. But to continue in it with unfailing, even reckless, devotion is to preserve the quietness of conscience which makes our service in this vale of tears a privilege of priceless worth.

To whom much is given, of him will much be required. We confess our wealth, and our responsibility. Synod, in view of its doctrinal position, stands committed to a twofold trust. First of all, it must face the compelling responsibility of lifting its voice with ever increasing power in the testimony of the everlasting Gospel which it confesses with unadulterated purity. Preaching is synod’s first concern, witnessing its most joyful duty; and in that campaign to win and save souls there is no discharge. Secondarily, however, the pure Gospel must be defended against all gainsayers; and error must be refuted with consistent and implacable determination. The temptation to yield the slightest ground must be met with the answer of consciences so bound in Scripture and the Confessions that they will defer to no man, no group of men, no pressure, to no proposal of outward peace and amity at the cost of compromising one jot or tittle of the precious truth. For only in such steadfastness can our synod, as handmaiden of the Gospel, find and hold its place under the approving eyes of God in a world swiftly declining toward the darkness of the end.

On II Thess. 3:6-15

“There comes a time, in dealing with those who hold to false doctrine and practice, when we must declare to them a severance of fraternal relations, refuse them fellowship at the Lord’s Table, and yet thereafter continue to admonish the erring as brethren. This order of dealing seems impossible to some; yet the Apostle Paul requires it.”

“Then I say: If God regarded even such a social misdemeanor as so serious that it must be dealt with by withdrawal, must not Missouri’s sins demand such action even more emphatically? That is a real status confessionis. Here is a scriptural basis for it. And if we had announced ourselves thus, it would have signified an advance commensurate with what has happened.”

(From two documents by Egbert Schaller on this passage dating from the early 1950s. As explained in the introductory material to Booklet #3 in The Writings of Prof. Egbert Schaller (containing his 1958 paper on the point at issue in the Synodical Conference), the first of these documents was published in the 1988-3 issue of the LCCF Newsletter, and the second in the 1996-4 issue of the same publication.)

Near the end of his explanation of the Third Article in his Large Catechism, Luther writes: “For all outside of Christianity, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, although they believe in, and worship, only one true God, yet know not what His mind towards them is, and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him; therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation.” (Triglot, p. 697, par. 66)
This passage in our Confessions became the focus of a great deal of attention in the wake of participation by David Benke, president of the Atlantic District of the Missouri Synod, in the Yankee Stadium service on September 23, 2001. It was argued by some that Luther in this passage affirms that one does not need to be a Christian to have and worship the one true God. This argument is dealt with and thoroughly refuted by Edward Engelbrecht in a splendid little book published by CPH in 2007: One True God – Understanding Large Catechism II.66. Engelbrecht shows that Luther made frequent use of concessive clauses in which he proceeds on the supposition that something is true, even though he himself does not regard it as true. An example is a comment on John 1:16 that Martin Bertram translated as follows: “But even if we were to concede that they were full of grace, they would still be unable to impart any of it to me.” A very familiar example is the line in Hymn 262: “Though devils all the world should fill.”
The conclusion is that the translation of the new edition of the Book of Concord, Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (2005) is correct: “Even if we were to concede that everyone outside Christianity – whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites – believe in and worship only one true God, it would still be true that they do not know what His mind toward them is and cannot expect any love or blessing from Him. Therefore they abide in eternal wrath and damnation.”
The author and publishing house have rendered a great service in producing this book.

Welcome information:
Vol. VII of Selected Sermons of E. Schaller is now available. The cost is $8 plus postage. Order from Paul R. Koch, 3425 Morgan Ave., Eau Claire, Wis. 54701-7023; [email protected]

So Very Wrong, So Very Right……………………………………….p. 3
Academic Quackery……………………………………………………p. 4
The Tragic Dilemma of Public Education…………………………….p. 7
An Insupportable Premium on Public Service………………………..p. 10
Parochial Schools Detrimental?…………………………………………………..p. 12
To the Point – User-Friendly…………………………………………p. 16
A Host of Heroic Whistleblowers……………………………………p. 17

“Free education for all children in government schools.” (From the 10th of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto; 1848)
“Does someone say … he [a teacher in a state school] is teaching some purely secular course, without any such maiming of his subjects or prejudicing of Christianity? If his teaching is more than a temporary dealing with some corner of education, the fact will be found to be that it is tacitly anti-Christian; overt assaults are not made, but there is a studied avoidance which is in effect hostile ….” (Robert Dabney, as quoted by Marvin Olasky on p. 32 of the Aug. 24, 2002, issue of World magazine)
“Whoever fairly faces the question must admit that the same set of arguments which condemns a national religion also condemns a national system of education. It is hard to pronounce sentence on the one and absolve the other. Does a national church compel some to support a system to which they are opposed? So does a national system of education. Does the one exalt the principle of majorities over the individual conscience? So does the other. Does a national church imply a distrust of the people, of their willingness to make sacrifices, of their capacity to manage their own affairs? So does a national system of education.” (Auberon Herbert, The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State, and Other Essays, LibertyClassics, 1978, p. 73)
Addendum to the compilation beginning on p. 17: The Twelve-Year Sentence – Radical Views of Compulsory schooling, edited by William F. Rickenbacker (Open Court Publishing, Inc., 1974) contains useful bibliographical material, both legal and general. Also, a good organization with which to become familiar is the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, founded in 1994.

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]

— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –

Featured in this issue are four articles that Prof. Egbert Schaller wrote on education. We reprint them in the order they appeared in the Northwestern Lutheran (WELS): 4-23-50, 1-28-51, 6-17-51, 3-17-57. All appeared under the heading, “From a Wider Field.”
That Prof. Schaller could be profoundly wrong in a matter of truly fundamental importance is shown by the half dozen places in these articles where his assumption that state-sponsored education is a necessity becomes apparent. Even two generations ago, this is virtually inexplicable, given the great perception with which he otherwise comments on education.
“Public education is necessary lest a large portion of the nation’s youth grow up, not only godless, but illiterate as well,” he wrote in 1951 (p. 12 below). A mere four years later Rudolf Flesch wrote on p. 2 in the opening chapter, entitled “A Letter to Johnny’s Mother,” of Why Johnny Can’t Read – And What You Can Do About It: “What I found is absolutely fantastic. The teaching of reading – all over the United States, in all the schools, in all the textbooks – is totally wrong and flies in the face of all logic and common sense. Johnny couldn’t read until half a year ago for the simple reason that nobody ever showed him how. Johnny’s only problem was that he was unfortunately exposed to an ordinary American school.” In 1981 this was followed by the same author’s Why Johnny Still Can’t Read – A New Look at the Scandal of Our Schools. Note also: “… The literacy rate in Massachusetts has never been as high as it was before compulsory schooling was instituted. Before 1850, when Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to force children to go to school, literacy was at 98 percent.” (Sheldon Richman, Separating School and State, 1994, p. 38)
Why shouldn’t education be an entirely private matter? In fact, how dare the state be involved in it, since it is an essentially religious (or anti-religious) undertaking?
On the other hand, the key to understanding how public education has become prevention of education lies in recognizing the conspiratorial machinations of self-appointed elites to control and remake education. In this direction we are so very rightly pointed by Prof. Schaller, who rendered the great service, in the article immediately following, of quoting someone who could see where blame needed to be fixed already in the middle of the last century. – R.E. Wehrwein

Thousands of Lutheran children are looking forward to their graduation from eighth grade, and their parents are viewing the prospects of enrolling them in available high schools, come autumn. Other thousands of little Lutherans are impatiently awaiting the dawning of their first day in the grades after vacation months are again past. Our church has often spoken to parents and children of the Christian education obtainable through church-supported parochial schools and high schools.

Mr. Albert Lynd recently made some comments in this connection, and his views are interesting. Mr. Lynd, a former history teacher of Stanford and of Harvard, at present is an advertising executive, and has served on the school board of a small town in Massachusetts.

In an Atlantic Monthly article he states that our public schools today are controlled by what he calls academic “quackery.” He takes a very dim view of the average quality of public school instructors, but asserts that the fault lies, not with the teachers, parents, or school boards, but with “the super-professionals who determine the kind of education to which your child must submit … the professors of education in the larger universities and teachers’ colleges.” The chief failing which Mr. Lynd sees in public education is the lack of “culture,” both in the pupils and in the teachers. This is allegedly to be attributed to the professors in the schools which train teachers … schools which Mr. Lynd calls “intellectual bargain basements.”

Those are harsh words; we do not venture either to refute or to support them. We desired, for reasons quite other than his, to lead our readers up to the suggestion offered by Mr. Lynd to parents desiring an adequate education for their children: “Mortgage your house and put your youngster in one of the good private schools, where the best teaching today is done by high-quality liberal arts graduates ….” May we say that it is not necessary to mortgage your home in order to send your children to one of our fine Lutheran schools? Perhaps there is a Lutheran parish school in your congregation or in your vicinity. And as for high schools, your pastor will direct you to the one nearest your home. Then prepare to enroll your child there. To neglect an opportunity for Christian education is to place a mortgage upon the spiritual future of our youth.

There is the story of the man who complained that he just couldn’t see the woods from his window because there were so many trees directly in the way. The peculiar blindness from which he suffered is rather common even among intelligent people – so common, in fact, that we speak of it proverbially as “not being able to see the wood for the trees.”

This affliction is a notorious defect among many who speak with ponderous authority or with sprightly energy in matters pertaining to the Church, as the following item reveals. A survey of religious conditions in Great Britain was conducted among Methodist pastors in that country. Religious News Service reports the results. “The pastors agreed that ‘much dogmatism’ has disappeared and church union … is now nearer consummation.” (Italics ours.) This is listed as a favorable change since 1914 or thereabouts. We shall come back to this finding in a moment. But the pastors also found adverse effects and changes which are to be deplored. Here they are:

“Congregations are smaller, have a smaller proportion of men and young people, and there has been a decline in the number of lay workers.
“There is much less Bible reading and consequently less scriptural knowledge.
“There are fewer prayer meetings, and there has been a marked decline in the number of class meetings ‘which used to be such an outstanding feature of the life of the Methodist Church.’
“Many parents lack strong ties with the Church and are careless of their children’s needs, so that the youngsters do not even possess the background which their elders had.”

Now what could be the cause for these adverse changes, this lessening of spiritual character and activity? The pastors thought hard and then laid the blame at the door of “the growing secularization of life, and the influence exerted by the radio, the cinema, television, and the automobile. Also, the ‘increasing entertainment at week ends,’ which has had the effect in some families of ‘lessening powers of personal concentration on spiritual values, causing less churchgoing’.”
So we come back to our little story about the woods and the trees. The pastors rejoiced that “much dogmatism” had disappeared. There is a dogmatism of the wrong kind; but we won’t go into that, because it evidently is not what these pastors meant. They found, rather, that pastors and congregations are no longer insisting so strictly on certain dogmas, or doctrines, anymore. They do not teach and confess so positively as formerly. They no longer say so definitely: This is divine Truth. Thus saith the Lord. This change in policy will, of course, have brought “church union” much nearer consummation; for when churches no longer teach Biblical doctrine with authority, agreement in doctrine is no longer important.

Nothing will empty churches more effectively, or turn men away from the Gospel more quickly, or destroy the practice of Bible reading more thoroughly, than the apostasy of pastors and congregations from the study requirement which St. Paul laid upon Timothy: “Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” [I Tim. 4:16] Why search the sky and the earth, why look into every automobile and weekend party, for causes of the sad changes in British Methodism and elsewhere? The answer lies before men’s eyes: less doctrine.

Significantly the report continues: “The pastors noted that the fear of death and hell played a prominent part in religious life earlier in the century. This fear, they said, was the keynote of much preaching and a big influence in the attitude of the average man toward religion.”

The jailor at Philippi, who had a real taste of the fear of death and hell, really enjoyed the blessed preachment of the apostle Paul. Death and hell, as well as the Cross of Christ, are doctrines. Doctrines are facts, are the ultimate realities in our lives, to be proclaimed, known, understood, dealt with, and believed by the power of the Holy Spirit at work through them. “To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Is. 8:30.

The kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House to
reprint these NL articles is gratefully acknowledged.

A most interesting story is found written in the reports that have come from the five-day sessions of the Mid-century White House Conference on children and youth, held in Washington early in December. This was the fifth of a series of such meetings held approximately every 10 years since 1909, when they were originated under President Theodore Roosevelt. This conference brought together 5,000 delegates representing many organizations that deal with youth and educational problems – educators, physicians, probation officers, clergymen, and parents. The purpose and goal of the meeting was in part expressed in the following: “To consider how we can develop in children the mental, emotional, and spiritual qualities essential to individual happiness ….”

With such a goal before the delegates, it was self-evident that they would find themselves confronted with the key question in education: the importance of religion in the child’s development.

As was likewise to be expected, the conference found itself sorely divided on the approach to this problem. After hearing youth representatives bear witness that they needed spiritual guidance which was not offered them in the schools, after hearing the Rev. Dr. Buttrick warn that our education is secular and that young people were becoming corrupted by a philosophy of materialism, and after agreeing that religious education is a must for every child, the delegates received a resolution calling upon the schools to offer community-wide religious education “in keeping with the laws of the state and the desires of the parents” – and promptly voted it down.

Then, by a vote of 1181 to 682, the conference adopted a substitute resolution which reads as follows: “Recognizing knowledge and understanding of religious and ethical concepts as essential to the development of spiritual values, and that nothing is of greater importance to the moral and spiritual health of our nation than the work of religious education in our homes and families and in our institutions of organized religion, we nevertheless strongly affirm the principle of separatism of Church and State which has been the keystone of our American democracy and declare ourselves unalterably opposed to the use of the public schools directly or indirectly for religious educational purposes.”

The adoption of this resolution was a notable victory for the forces of constitutional democracy. Advocates of religious instruction sponsored by the state and the public school system have taken to excusing the loss of the first resolution by saying that it was hastily drawn up and poorly worded. While this may be true, the overwhelming adoption of the second resolution, as quoted above, leaves no doubt as to the mind of the assembly. It realized that religion is essential in the education of the child, but that the public schools cannot offer this necessary factor without destroying themselves and the religious freedom which is more important to us than secular learning itself.

If it is true, as has been said, that these White House conferences have in the past exerted a profound influence on child life in this country, we have reason to hope that this conference by its action will help prevent the success of those who are determined to make the public schools an agent of religious training. It is gratifying to see that, in this age of utter religious confusion, when not a few even of the nation’s religious leaders quite evidently do not know what true religion is, there can be found a huge assembly from all walks of life and shades of religious thought whose majority remains sober enough to realize that only the Church, never the State, must seek to offer training in spiritual truths and values.

At the same time, the conflict at the conference points up the tragic dilemma of public education. It must, and yet it cannot, truly educate. Men must denounce education without religion, yet must offer the very thing they reject as futile and dangerous. The conference was warned that “the United States is in danger of raising a generation of atheists” in its schools; yet it cannot offer the power which will prevent this. It cannot offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ, partly because this would be a denial of the rights of non-Christian citizens, and partly because the Gospel would certainly be corrupted and made worse than useless if administered by governmental agencies and under their regulations. And so the conference, keenly aware of its failure in achieving the goal set, must suffer itself to be condemned by Cardinal Spellman as “antireligious,” when actually it wrestled with an impossible purpose and a problem insoluble by the means at its disposal.
The charge of the conference “that the churches are failing to reach the nation’s children with adequate and effective religious education” sounds a bit plaintive; its appeal that “churches of various faiths coordinate, strengthen, and expand their religious services and activities for people of inadequate income” does not touch the real heart of the difficulty. For the failure of the churches lies not merely in their limited coverage of the nation’s youth, but also in the crazy-quilt training program which the dominant position of the State in the educational field has forced upon the churches. This program tries to make an educational success of the often contradictory combination of Sunday school, release-time instruction, and public schooling, a system which so easily departmentalizes religion, makes it a secondary consideration, and hinders it from permeating the entire life of the child. But at least the eyes of the conference delegates were gazing in the right direction.

The State has erred in assuming that it can discharge the task of education. The churches have failed in surrendering that responsibility to the State. Of approximately 1,400 Protestant parochial schools in our land today, almost 90% are found within the Synodical Conference. It is in this department that the churches most need to “expand their religious services and activities.” To the extent that public [this word seems out of place – RW] education of the young can be taken over by the Christian Church, to the extent that the Savior Jesus Christ is its center and object, to that extent only will America be able to train future generations to meet life and death with the weapons and bulwarks of the spirit.

But such a prospect, unfortunately, seems remote. Too many churches have forsaken the revealed Gospel, the power of God, for a synthetic religion of social uplift and economic betterment; they have embraced fanatically the causes of race relations, United Nations policy, and atomic warfare strategy. They have devoted themselves to the mint, anise, and cumin, but have abandoned the weightier things of God’s Word. It is not likely that they will renounce their present devotion and give themselves expensively to the enormous assignment of rearing a nation conscious of the One Thing needful. Nevertheless we testify to the desperate need of Christian education in the hope that some may listen; and we value the force with which the debates and resolutions of the mid-century conference gave expression to that need.

Although the last word in the case has by no means been spoken, even after two months, most of the evidence seems to be in hand and thus permits some comment at this time on one of the most interesting and thought-provoking church-state conflicts to arise in many a day. Most newspaper readers have read brief accounts of this issue. Mr. Robert Shorb teaches in the high school at Boone, Iowa. He is an instructor in the vocational machine shop. He is 33 years of age, a veteran of World War II, is married, and sends his son Michael, age 7, to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Parochial School in Boone.

In April, the school board discovered this fact. The board advised Mr. Shorb that, while there was no law governing the situation, the board had a “gentleman’s agreement” that they would not retain teachers whose children attended parochial rather than public schools.

After some reflection and consultation, Mr. Shorb advised the board that he could not allow his contract to be renewed on any such terms. The board regarded that as a resignation or a rejection of contract renewal and considered Mr. Shorb’s services terminated as of the end of the present semester.

Very briefly all was quiet, and then the matter exploded. Everybody began talking at once, and Boone became a sharply divided town. The position of the board was that Mr. Shorb was not fired, but declined renewal of contract. The attitude of those opposing the board is that the board has violated the constitutional right of an individual to worship as he pleases and to educate his children as he chooses. The board’s attitude, as expressed by its president, Mr. Doran, is “that anyone teaching in the public schools owes allegiance to them.”

Mr. Shorb is greatly to be admired for the courage of his convictions; and in that respect we can only say that we wish there were many Lutherans of equal staunchness. Surprisingly enough, Mr. Shorb has found more than admiration in other quarters. Quite apart from his own church, powerful voices have been raised in his behalf. The newspaper Boone News-Republican explained in an editorial: “Undoubtedly he (Shorb) wanted a renewal of his contract but he refused to let the school board tell him to which school he could or could not send his children. Let’s see, now, what were those four freedoms again?”

The board got a jolt when the Boone Junior Chamber of Commerce adopted a vigorous resolution condemning the action of the board and demanding reconsideration. A two-hour public hearing was the result, at which two attorneys spoke for Mr. Shorb and the audience was vocally in sympathy with the teacher. However, the board refused to reconsider its ruling. It was reported that the American Civil Liberties Union is “looking thoroughly into the matter,” and may step in with legal action. Glenn L. Archer, executive secretary of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, released a statement sharply criticizing the board for its action. Mr. Shorb, incidentally, is now fighting his case, and further developments may have occurred before this page reaches our readers.

As might be expected, some irresponsible things were allegedly said on both sides of the case. Feelings always become bitter when religious convictions are involved. Mr. Shorb has been accused of “caustic remarks.” The president of the board is quoted as suggesting that Mr. Shorb’s opportunity for a position elsewhere might be made doubtful. Such expressions are unfortunate and obscure the issue.

What is the issue? The board says it is not religious. It is a matter, they declare, of allegiance. The school supports Mr. Shorb, so Mr. Shorb ought to support the school. As board member Mrs. Sutton put it: “Mr. Shorb is criticizing our schools when he sends his boy to a parochial school.”

Just what loyalties have the public schools a right to expect of the citizens? Is it wholesome to air that question? We support many government projects with our taxes. Presumably these projects are in the public interest, and we finance them. Certainly we pay dearly for public education, because it is a necessity. A citizen may even enter into the service of such a public agency and contribute what he can to make it serve a good, useful purpose. But the citizen still owns the public school, and the public school does not own the citizen. The obligation of loyalty runs the other way. Any public service which takes captive the personal, private rights of any citizen becomes a tyrannical monster.

We cannot always regard as adequate any governmental project which we support. We can recognize the need of the public school system without considering it desirable for our own children. This may seem contradictory to some; but it is not so. Life presents many analogies. There is war, for example. No one wants it, no one ever really wins it, everybody loses by it; yet there are times when the utter need of self-preservation makes it unavoidable, and we ourselves enter into the service of war. This does not mean that we want it for our children.

Public education is necessary lest a large portion of the nation’s youth grow up, not only godless, but illiterate as well. Yet for the making of a Christian citizenry, which is what we want for our children and what our country needs, the public school system is in its very nature not equipped, for it cannot and does not operate with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we have something better, we use it. This must not deprive us of any intrinsic rights which we as citizens have in the public school system. Let the Boone school board by all means inform Mr. Shorb that his services are no longer needed, if they have found a more suitable instructor for the machine shop. But to demand his child as the price for a contract is to put a premium upon public service which is insupportable.

Just at a time when thoughtful people of evangelical Christian confession in increasing number were beginning to recognize the value of Christian day schools as agencies for the training of a truly Christian citizenship and for the development of Christian congregations that have solid confessional strength, along comes a prominent Lutheran leader and publicly deplores the spread of the parish school idea.

To say that it was in all the papers may be saying too much. But certainly it was reported in most newspapers around here because that is the kind of news which the world delights to hear. There was no lack of publicity for those quoted remarks of Dr. Oscar Benson, president of the Augustana (Swedish) Lutheran Church: “I am also disturbed very much by the tendency of Lutheran churches everywhere to establish parochial schools.”

That was the sentiment which prevailed at the annual meeting of the National Lutheran Council. The Council is an association in which eight Lutheran church bodies are represented, among them the American Lutheran Church, the United Lutheran Church, and, of course, the Augustana Synod. The news reports imply that it was due largely to the influence exerted by Dr. Benson that the resolution adopted by the Council rapped the Christian day schools so hard, allowing only that “under special circumstances parochial schools have a place.”

The thinking of Dr. Benson is indicated in his assertion that in many areas of our country the promotion of parish schools “has tended to stifle and vitiate the ability of the public schools to get the kind of support they need.”

It is only fair to say that this complaint was directed chiefly at the Roman Catholic Church. And it is true that, in seeking recognition of its right as the “only true Church” on earth, the Roman Church holds to certain principles which are not encouraging to public education as we have it in our country. In part, the conflict between the Roman Catholic views on education and the educational efforts of the government is due to the arrogant claims of the Papacy. The encyclical of Pope Pius XI, dated Dec. 31, 1929, established the Roman Catholic attitude that “it is especially the duty of the state … to promote the education and instruction of youth … by favoring and aiding the work undertaken by the Church (Roman Catholic, of course) and the family .…” Unless the state is willing with its funds and facilities to foster the educational interests of Rome, it often receives hostility rather than support from the Roman hierarchy.

But Dr. Benson’s attack on parochial schools goes far beyond this point of conflict. He is opposed to the growth of the parochial school system; and the National Lutheran Council has gone on record favoring public schools as the “chief instrument of general education.” This demonstrates a lack of Christian insight so profound that those afflicted by it must be prepared to forfeit all right to our regard as leaders in the Christian Church. If, instead of being able to quote them with approval, we call on the Pope himself to refute their position, it will merely serve to show that they have brought Lutheran theology’s name to a new low.

It is contrary to fact to suggest that Lutheran parochial schools are detrimental to the public school system. Lutherans who enjoy the privilege of offering their children an integrated, sound Christian education in a private school will be the last people to neglect the obligations they have toward the state schools. They willingly* bear a double burden: that of maintaining their own school and that of paying their full share of taxes toward the public school. They know full well that they are unable to offer private schooling to all children, yet they understand the right of every child to an education. And does nobody want to acknowledge the substantial support which parochial schools offer the public school system in their very existence? The dignified clerical gainsayers of our day schools might have very undignified faces if they were to look at their tax bill after all parochial schools closed their doors and transferred their children to the doorstep of the public school system, which even now is overcrowded.

Although public education is necessary, it suffers from a weakness which renders it unfit to be the “chief instrument of general education.” There is nothing that can be done about this without destroying God’s order in Church and State and without destroying religious freedom; and one would expect every Lutheran leader worthy of the name to realize this far better than Pope Pius XI, whose words we must quote with approval: “… Every form of teaching children, which, confined to the mere forces of nature, rejects or neglects those matters which contribute z

*Because the word “unwillingly” appeared here in the original instead of “willingly,” a correction was prominently displayed in the very next issue, March 17, 1957, p. 83: “In the March 3 number of the Northwestern Lutheran there occurred a most unfortunate typographical error. Since the appearance of the word ‘unwillingly’ for ‘willingly’ flatly contradicts the author’s meaning in a very important point, we think it necessary to reprint most of the paragraph from the feature in which the error occurred ….”

with God’s help to the right formation of the Christian life, is false and full of error; and every way and method of educating youth, which gives no consideration, or scarcely any, to the transmission of original sin from our first parents to all posterity, and so relies wholly on the mere powers of nature, strays completely from the truth.”

Whatever false and harmful conclusions the Pope may draw from that premise, the premise at least is wholly true, as is also the following: “The family, then, holds directly from the Creator the duty and the right to educate its offspring; and since this right cannot be cast aside, because it is connected with a very serious obligation, it has precedence over any right of civil society and of the state, and for this reason no power on earth may infringe upon it ….

“From this duty of educating, which especially belongs to the Church and the family, not only do the greatest advantages, as we have seen, emanate into all society, but no harm can befall the true and proper rights of the state, insofar as it pertains to the education of citizens, according to the order established by God. These rights are assigned to civil society by the Author of nature himself, not by the right of fatherhood, as of the Church and of the family, but on account of the authority which is in Him for promoting the common good on earth, which indeed is its proper end …. Therefore, as far as education is concerned, it is the right or, to speak more accurately, the office of the state to guard the priority right of the family by its laws, as we have mentioned above; that is, of educating offspring in the Christian manner, and so of acknowledging the supernatural right of the Church in such a Christian education.”

If we can forget that “Church” as used by the Pope means “Roman Catholic Church,” and substitute in our minds the meaning “Christian Church on earth,” we can say that his excellent words put certain “Lutheran” theologians to shame.

Behold, Mr. Editor, what a long letter I have written you. It sounds more like a lecture than a letter, I’m sorry to say; but that’s the way it is. One never knows when one gets on a subject like this. By the way, in case you want to check, all papal quotations are taken from Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma, 1955. Cordially yours.

USER-FRIENDLY Live long enough, and you’ve heard it all before. z “The motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and … in a few years it will supplant the use of textbooks.” So said Thomas Edison in 1922. Twenty-three years later, a Cleveland school administrator, William Levenson, predicted another scenario: “The time may come when a portable radio receiver will be as common in the classroom as is the blackboard.”
In the 60s psychologist B.F. Skinner said: “With the help of teaching machines and programmed instruction, students can learn twice as much ….” More recently President Clinton campaigned to enthusiastic audiences on the pledge of: “A bridge to the 21st century … where computers are as much a part of the classroom as blackboards.”
So where’s the wave of creative and brilliant students entering, or leaving, college? Three years ago the Department of Education demonstrated that more than half of American college graduates cannot read a bus schedule. Nor could they figure out how much change they should get after putting down $3 to pay for a 60-cent bowl of soup and a $1.95 sandwich.
Wild enthusiasm for the latest technology, grandiose promises that are not realized, and then the lucrative cycle starts all over again.
The church is not immune to this morbid fascination for the latest novelty, and the notion that faster and easier is better. People drag their computer lingo with them as they search for a “user-friendly” church. A place that offers entertaining and diversionary activities to people who are not interested in religion in the first place.
Prayer, Scripture study, and a sanctified life require time, effort, and self-discipline. There’s nothing colorful or mechanical about commitment to the will of God or personal penitence.
Information is not education, and tools of the trade are not the trade. As the shop teacher said: “I teach carpentry, not hammer.” No replacement has yet been found for an inspired, inspiring teacher who has in his heart a love for his students and his subject. He’ll do just fine with a computer at hand, and do just as well with a piece of chalk.
The answer, by the way, is 45 cents.
Reprinted with permission.

Few people have a greater claim to our admiration than the many courageous individuals over the decades who have labored to expose the forces out to capture our educational system. Let’s meet a few of them.
Charlotte Iserbyt, born in 1930, was uniquely positioned during Reagan’s first term to gain an understanding of what was happening. Supplementing this knowledge with additional research, she produced the monumental compilation, perhaps unmatched as a documentary record of the subversion of American education, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, which can be accessed on the Internet. (The individual she names and quotes at length on p. 110, after being baptized and confirmed in the Wisconsin Synod, was thereafter in the Missouri Synod and again the WELS before becoming a member of Mighty Fortress Orthodox Lutheran Church in Anaheim, Cal., both when it was in the Illinois Lutheran Conference and later when it became independent. She now has church at home.) On p. 48 you will learn how Senator Norman Dodd’s research for the Reece Committee resulted in his being warned that he would be killed if he proceeded with his investigation of the Ford Foundation as outlined.
Iserbyt’s website on American Deception should also be consulted.
From Beverly K. Eakman we have Educating for the ‘New World Order,’ Microchipped, Cloning of the American Mind, and Walking Targets, not to mention many speeches and articles.
Still another indefatigable researcher is Berit Kjos. Communist infiltration of the churches is discussed in parts two and three of her Internet article, “Real Conspiracies.” Manning Johnson’s 1953 testimony is quoted: “The plan was to make the seminaries the neck of a funnel through which thousands of potential clergymen would issue forth, carrying with them, in varying degrees, an ideology and slant which would aid in neutralizing the anti-Communist character of the church and also to use the clergy to spearhead important Communist projects …. This policy was successful beyond even Communist expectations.”
Sam Blumenfeld has written The New Illiterates, Is Public Education Necessary?, NEA – Trojan Horse in American Education, and other books. In the preface to the second-named (p. ix), he writes: “But one question particularly intrigued me. Knowing that our country began its remarkable history without public education – except for some local common schools in New England – and that the federal Constitution did not even mention education, I was curious as to why Americans had given up educational freedom for educational statism so early in their history, adopting the notion that the government should assume the responsibility of educating our children. I thought I could find the answer quickly and put it in an opening chapter. Instead, it took me four years and twelve chapters to get the answer.”
Blumenfeld has focused much attention on teaching reading. “For example, I tutored a Boston University medical student who had been taught to read by Dick and Jane at an expensive private school. He hated to read and didn’t know why. … He simply had no idea what an alphabetic writing system was about. It took him several weeks before he finally understood that the alphabet was a set of symbols representing speech sounds.” (Internet article, “Why America still has a reading problem – and it has nothing to do with ‘dyslexia’.”) “‘Last July there was an article in the Boston Globe about Boston’s reading problem,’ says Blumenfeld. ‘Mayor Menino had launched a literacy program five years ago in an attempt to wipe out illiteracy among Boston’s school children. Now five years later, they’re still talking about this reading problem. The educators now tell us that they have a new “balanced” reading program which combines whole language with phonics. That’s the worst of all possible worlds because you totally confuse a child as to what kind of reading system we have.’” (Internet article on Sam Blumenfeld, “Reformer of the month.”)
Let’s Kill Dick and Jane by Harold Henderson and The Great Reading Disaster by Mona McNee and Alice Coleman are important recent books dealing with the teaching of reading.
John Taylor Gatto, born in 1935, and a public school teacher for three decades, pulls no punches in his various books, as can be seen from passages from Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992). “Kept contained, the occasional teacher who makes a discovery like mine is at worst an annoyance to the chain of command (which has evolved automatic defenses to isolate such bacilli and then neutralize or destroy them). But once loose the idea could imperil the central assumptions which allow the institutional school to sustain itself, such as the false assumption that it is difficult to learn to read, or that kids resist learning, and many more,” xiii. “Pick up a fifth-grade math or rhetoric textbook from 1850 and you’ll see that the texts were pitched then on what would today be considered college level,” 13. “School has become the replacement for church in our secular society …. You must understand that first and foremost the business I am in is a jobs project and an agency for letting contracts,” 19. “… Thousands of humane, caring people work in schools, as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions,” 25. “For 140 years this nation has tried to impose objectives downward form a lofty command center made up of ‘experts,’ a central elite of social engineers,” 33. “… Think of the New York City public school system, where I work, one of the largest business organizations on planet Earth. While the education administered by this abstract parent is ill-regarded by everybody, the institution’s right to compel its clientele to accept such dubious service is still guaranteed by the police. And forces are gathering to expand its reach still further – in the face of every evidence that it has been a disaster throughout its history,” 65. “What, after all this time, is the purpose of mass-schooling supposed to be? Reading, writing, and arithmetic can’t be the answer, because properly approached those things take less than a hundred hours to transmit – and we have abundant evidence that each is readily self-taught in the right setting and time,” 67. “But lying for personal advantage is the operational standard in all large institutions; it is considered part of the game in schools. Parents, for the most part, are lied to or told half-truths, as they are usually considered adversaries. At least that’s been true in every school I ever worked in,” 71. “… A move seems to be afoot to do the reverse, to enlarge substantially the bite that schooling takes out of a young person’s family time, community time, and private time. Trial balloons are floated about constantly in the press and on TV …,” 73. “It [mass schooling] has been picking our pockets just as Socrates predicted it would thousands of years ago. One of the surest ways to recognize education is that it doesn’t cost very much …,” 77. “Don’t be panicked by scare tactics into surrendering your children to experts,” 103.
You’ll also want to become familiar with Gatto’s An Underground History of American Education (2001). Rob Shearer’s May 20, 2009, review of his most recent book, Weapons of Mass Instruction (2008), can be accessed on the Greenleaf Press website. Perhaps this will further whet your appetite: “Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone …,” xxii. (This brings to mind the statements of J. Gresham Machen (Education, Christianity, and the State, p. 126): “What is the explanation of this emptiness of American life? The explanation is that the average American is not educated. An uneducated man shrinks from quiet. An educated man longs for it.” Machen lived from 1881-1937.) “Two congressional investigations, one in 1915 and one in 1959, came to the identical conclusion that school policy in the new pedagogical order was being deliberately created far from public oversight …,” 3-4. “How many schoolteachers were aware of what they actually were a part of? Surely a number close to zero,” 6. “As I’ve grown older I’ve come to believe that good teachers are more dangerous than bad ones. They keep this sick institution alive,” 82. “I can’t believe that centralized schooling is allowed to exist at all as a gigantic indoctrinating and sorting machine, robbing people of their children,” 86. “School disconnects, as it was charged to do. … Children are divided from their families, their traditions, their communities, their religions …,” p. 130. “To learn to read and to like it takes about thirty contact hours under the right circumstances, sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less,” 152. “We [teachers] must behave like noble termites, tunneling the current structure until it dissolves of its own dead weight: we must encourage schoolpeople to sabotage the system while pretending not to,” 154. “… I concluded long ago that some deliberate intent was (and is) at work on the school institution, that it operates far from public access, and until it is confronted the term ‘school reform’ is meaningless,” 179. “But then, parents have had no significant voice in school for over a century,” 195. – Compiled by R.E. Wehrwein

The well-known book by Lutheran Hour speaker, Walter A. Maier, For Better, Not for Worse – A Manual of Christian Matrimony (CPH; second edition, 1936), has 551 pages, not counting the index. It is therefore perhaps a little surprising that despite this length and even though the number of subheadings in the table of contents exceeds 200, only two of them have the word “father” in it. One of these headings quotes the Fourth Commandment and deals with obedience. The other heading is “Father, Key-Man of Our Social Order,” but is less than four pages long. The index entry on parents is about half a column long, but the entry on fathers has only seven lines and nine references to pages, of which six are to pages – a couple of them more than once – in the four-page section just mentioned. A current check, made mainly by consulting others who are much better versed in this area than we are, brought a similarly surprising result: When it comes to sound Lutheran material dealing with the Christian father, the pickings today are quite slim. Judging by a quick glance into the indexes of some Lutheran periodicals, even they have not devoted much space to the topic. Perhaps the following quotations and references might therefore be of some use.

Having mentioned Maier, let us begin with him. “We must remember that, according to divine social standards, fathers, not mothers alone, are given the command to bring up their children ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Eph. 4:6 [sic; should be 6:4]).” “ … The great Reformer insisted: ‘No one should become a father unless he is able to instruct his children in the Ten Commandments and in the Gospel, so that he may bring up true Christians.” “Fathers must retain a sympathetic feeling for their children’s activities and find time to develop a happy companionship with their children. We are not, however, in favor of a loose familiarity. On the contrary, we agree wholeheartedly with Judge Aarons of Milwaukee: ‘Fathers are overdoing this pal stuff.’” (pp. 289-90)

Gen. 18:19: Two of the six sections of August Pieper’s 1923-24 article, “Anniversary Reflections,” were not included when this article was published in Vol. III of The Wauwatosa Theology (NPH, 1997). While commenting on the church’s responsibility to its children in one of these sections, Pieper wrote: “We have God’s own Word. In the very first book of the Bible, Abraham is held before our eyes. Of him the Lord says that He has appointed him the father and the pattern of all believers of the Old Covenant and of the New, not as Luther most unfortunately has rendered it, ‘I know that he will command his children,’ etc., but, ‘For I have chosen him, so that (in order that, for this purpose, that) he may command his children and his household after him, to keep the ways of the Lord.’ The training of his descendants was thus an essential part of Abraham’s election and call, and all the promises that he received are bound to the fulfillment of this call and depend on that.” (Floyd Brand’s translation in Faith-Life, 1996-4, p. 13)

Eli: On the warning for us in his example, see Egbert Schaller’s sermon series, “From Ichabod to Ebenezer” (Booklet #12 in the under-signed’s The Writings of Prof. Egbert Schaller, pp. 16 & 20). “Our concern is occasioned by the ever-growing number of homes in which parents guide and rule their children as Eli did – with whining words, with empty scoldings, with inconsistency that betrays a lack of fixed standards. … Those who have said that there are no problem children, only problem parents, are significantly approximating the truth. … Though children may have learned the catechism by heart, this offers little assurance if homes fail by correct training to teach the children how to know and love their Savior. … Eli was an old man, it is true; but by no means too old to get up, bind his priestly garments about his loins, march out, and clean house. The day was far spent; but there was time to deal with the corruption that had begun in his own home, yea, in his own heart. It would not be as easy as it might have been had he taken steps much sooner. The cost of repentance always grows as it is put off.”

Psalm 78: “I have been telling Eugene [Alfred Rehwinkel’s son] Bible history stories for some time. He enjoys them very much and is keenly interested. Every evening after supper he comes with his Bible history and says, ‘Daddy, we haven’t had our Bible history lesson yet.’ He listens with rapt attention and his face vividly reflects the emotions he experiences. At times tears come to his eyes, and when the story is over he always says, ‘Daddy, is that all? That story is too short.’” (From the diary of Alfred Rehwinkel, as quoted on p. 124 of Salt, Light, and Signs of the Times by Ronald Stelzer)
Without denying the existence of situations such as that portrayed in Acts 18:24-26, where Apollos learned from Priscilla, we note how I Cor. 14:35 sets forth the scope of the activity of men as teachers. The responsibility to teach does not extend just to the children.

Eph. 6:1-4: From Egbert Schaller’s sermon on this text in Vol. II of his selected sermons, which should be digested in its entirety, we take the following (p. 143): “Obedient children are planted in Christ and draw their obedience out of Him. This duty is laid upon the parents, and nobody else is responsible – not the state, not the church, not the pastor. ‘Ye fathers,’ says the apostle, laying the burden directly where it belongs, upon the shoulders of the head of the house. He who is called upon to provide for the bodily support of his family through honest labor is also the one to whom the children must look for their ‘nurture and admonition in the Lord.’ Let no father shirk this responsibility, and let no one idly say that it is unfair to leave the mother out, because she is not left out. As the help-meet of the husband, she finds her share of the task of keeping a Christian home if the father leads the way. You fathers, the very existence of your Christian home depends upon your children [being?] obedient in the Lord through your bringing them up ‘in the Lord.’ It is your task to see that they not only learn to know Jesus and His Word, but to live in Him, drawing nourishment for their souls out of His Word, turning to His light for guidance as flowers turn their faces to the sun.”

Eph. 5:22-31: “The section from Eph. 5 has been more abused by husbands than misunderstood by wives. The Lord has a word for husbands and a word for wives. His word to husbands is to love, not to force their wives to obey. The Lord is not setting up dictatorships. He is interested in what husbands are willing to give up for their marriage, which is different from giving in. Husbands are inclined to blame their wives for the lack of love in their home. The Lord expects wives to love, and as Christians they certainly would be doing so. … [But?] in the family the Lord makes husbands responsible for love. ‘Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.’ (Col. 3:19) … For husbands the model of love is the one exemplified by Jesus, who was willing to, and did, sacrifice Himself for the benefit of His bride, the Church. So are Christian husbands willing to give of themselves for the benefit of their marriage. ‘Leadership without love is tyranny; love without leadership is sentimentality.’” (Michael Sydow, “A Lamb for Each Household,” 1981 paper, p. 14) As Schaller put it in the sermon referred to above: “The communion of saints and the Christian family are twin sisters.”

A book of unusual insight, candor, and sensitivity that deals at length with the truths in this Ephesians passage is He Her Honour and She His Glory by V.S. Grieger (published by the author; 3rd revised edition, September 1994). “In his admonition to husbands St. Paul does not even mention their headship, let alone imply that they should be concerned about it and insist on due respect and honour on account of it. His headship is expressed and shows itself rather in demonstrating that sort of love for his wife that makes itself fully responsible for all her needs and wants, and which is determined to have her presented before him in her fullest glory, as Christ does for his Church.” (p. 47)

On the website of the Hausvater project (hausvater.org) is a review of Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He desperately Needs. According to the review, the book explains that the wife tends to react without respect if not loved, and that the husband tends to react without love if not respected. On the other hand, the husband’s love motivates the wife’s respect, and her respect motivates his love. As Grieger put it at one point (p. 103): “Someone has said, a woman needs to be loved, but a man needs to be admired.”

I Peter 3:7: “But the husband should also see to it that he treats his wife with kindness and consideration. He should be tender, and he should honor her as God’s weakest vessel. … She is weaker physically and also more timid and downhearted in spirit. Therefore you should deal with her and treat her in such a way that she can bear it. … Now it is impossible to give a rule for this. God leaves it to everyone to treat his wife considerately according to each wife’s nature. You must not use your authority arbitrarily; for you are her husband to help, support, and protect her, not to harm her. It is impossible to set specific bounds for you. Here you yourself must know how to proceed thoughtfully.” (American Edition of Luther’s Woks, Vol. 30, pp. 91-92) Regarding the statement about prayers not being hindered: How can a husband pray confidently for any gifts from God if he is setting God at naught by living in ingratitude for His wonderful gift of a wife through inconsiderate treatment of her?

Gilbert Sydow’s article, “Is Education the Solution to Our Problems – Or Is the Solution our Problem?” (Journal of Theology, 1988-3), has much to offer. To a considerable extent, it repeats and builds on thoughts Sydow had expressed in two articles in the Lutheran Spokesman. The first, dealing with the command, “Provoke not your children to anger,” is on pp. 2-4 of the June 1971 issue. “The flesh is not only inclined to disobedience, it is also inclined to tyrannize. … We adults should watch ourselves and examine whether as we grow older we tend to drift into arbitrary ways of dealing with the young. We have observed a tendency on the part of some to react with an immediate ‘No!’ to the wishes and suggestions of children. It almost appears as if pride comes into the picture because the idea didn’t originate with the parents.” The other article is on pp. 8-10 of the July 1972 issue. “But we do have serious misgivings about any method of education and training that leaves too much up to the whims and fancies of the flesh, knowing full well which way it goes. When the thought of discipline is introduced the objection might arise that this forces a harsh and joyless existence on a child. We dissent. The kind of discipline we have in mind has quite the opposite effect and leads toward happiness and contentment. It starts with an imposed discipline and seeks to develop a self-discipline …. It goes this way: As one’s self-discipline increases, so also does his sense of freedom and his feeling of happiness.”

Nor can we forbear quoting this: “We have but one course to pursue: to trust implicitly in the absolute power of Christ to drive out devils and to bring this Christ with His authority and love to the hearts of the children. Simply put Christ and a child together and keep them together by the Word, and regard the result as a foregone conclusion. If we short-circuit the mighty grace of the Redeemer by grounding it in our personal effectiveness, we exhibit the unbelief that results in failure even under the most favorable circumstances. …We have no child-problems. We have only personal problems: to adopt the best methods of work as God makes them available to us, and to be altogether faithful in the use of them; but above all, to believe without qualification, to believe implicitly and utterly, that Christ can and will put to rout the kingdom of darkness in the hearts of our youth and set up His rule of grace in them, under all conditions and by any methods, if we but faithfully speak and live the Gospel of Him before their ears and eyes in season and out of season.” (Conclusion of Egbert Schaller’s article, “The Failure of Unbelief – Mt. 17:1-20,” Booklet #19)

Aspects of family life are treated in the last four sermons in The Lutheran Hour by Walter A. Maier (CPH, 1931). Pp. 262-264 in Ewald Plass’s This Is Luther are relevant, as is the section on parents in his What Luther Says. George Gilder’s book, Men and Marriage, has been recommended to us. The book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – A Response to Evangelical Feminism, by John Piper and Wayne Grudem (1991), and the monthly periodical, The Family in America, are also deserving of mention. The latter, founded in 1987, is also available on the Internet. John Parcher frequently addressed family issues in his columns, as can be seen even from the few that we have already previously reprinted. Two articles by Pastor Fossum, “As a Father” and “Duties of Fathers in the Christian Home,” should most definitely not be forgotten. Originally published in the LCCF Newsletter in 1990 and 1991, they are readily available, along with other edifying material, in the booklet, “In the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord.”

May our fathers, knowing their own great weakness, boldly seek and thankfully obtain from their Heavenly Father the strength and wisdom to carry out their high calling in a way that will glorify Jesus’ saving name.

Also from Grieger’s book: “Deep down in the heart of every woman, unless it has been cruelly suppressed, by brainwashing through the media, or by bitter abuse in life, is a deep feeling and conviction that she really does not want to be the head ….” (p. 144)
“It is more likely that something has happened in the process of their [some women] becoming highly educated and qualified academically which spoils their chances of marriage. Other things being equal, it would seem that this finally has got to be related to what man needs and looks for in a wife. It has got to be related to a woman’s willingness to giver herself to a man in self-surrendering love. In some subtle way this charming feminine quality has probably been compromised or reduced, so that, while man generally may respect her, yet she does not appeal to him as a wife.” (p. 93)

PATRIOTIC SERVICE David Murry spent a lifetime studying the X various cultures around the world. He says that women tend to domesticate the men they marry. The word “groom,” as in “bridegroom,” comes from the word “guma,” which means “servant.”
But Murry’s chief premise is: “Cultures differ in many ways, but all societies that survive are built on marriage.”
Wedding ceremonies may vary from place to place, customs of courtship and notions of beauty, but the basic building block of society does not change.
That is not surprising. Marriage is not the result of social engineering or sexual experiment; it is no accident of convenience or coincidence.
God set it up that way: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”
What got Murry into academic trouble was the conclusion he drew from his findings. He lambasted the substitutes.
We’re wasting our time on better child care and health care, improved educational programs, more cops, and courts, and jails, and social workers.
If we’re not going to take care of first things first, then all the secondary things won’t make a bit of difference.
Then we’re just fooling around with symptoms instead of treating the disease which is poisoning the body of society.
A simple marriage and home don’t seem like much compared to grandiose government agendas and vast schemes of social restructuring.
The plainest couple on earth, if they can hold together, accomplish something that multiplied billions in money cannot buy.
The poorest pair who outlast the stormy seas of matrimony are serving their country better than all the experts put together.
The smallest child who helps make his own home work outshines all the geniuses of his generation.
It is so easily overlooked, but the family is still the original Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
The teachings of the Bible are wonderfully encouraging to folks struggling to live out their relationship according to the original blueprint.
Better than doing it for each other and our country, it’s our nearest and best chance of doing something beautiful for God.

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES “If you are a single parent, you are z as capable as any two parents of raising healthy, happy children.” So says the popular columnist John Rosemond in his book Parent Power. The man often hits the nail on the head, but not this time. In an excellent article, Ken Cherney of Louisiana strongly disagrees.
“The results are in,” Cherney says. “John Rosemond, and others like him, are dead wrong, and a nation that believes them is in denial.”
“Single parenting” is usually a euphemism for a home with no father, Cherney says, and the results are fairly predictable.
They include every sorry feature you would expect when the legitimate, built-in “authority figure” is removed from a child’s life.
In fact, the best indicator of a community’s crime rate is the number of single-parent homes, regardless of predominant race or income levels.
Cherney is only saying what, until recently, everybody already knew. A “family” is a mother and a father who are married and rearing their children together.
Trouble is, if you say this out loud, people complain: “What are you trying to do? Single parents need help, and not guilt trips.”
They most certainly do! Single parents and the children they are trying to raise need all the support they can get, and we can give. Their wounds are already painful enough, and nobody gains by rubbing salt in them.
But perpetuating the lie, and trashing the Bible precepts in the process, only aggravates the wounds.
Pretending there’s a substitute in a child’s life for a “mama” and a “daddy,” or that divorce turns spouses into better parents, is a lie.
How is a child helped when a father is replaced by a slice of his paycheck, or by a relative, or by some government agency?
A family is not what society says it is, nor is it one of many “alternative lifestyles.” It is God’s creation, and what He meant it to be.
There’s His blueprint, and the world’s, which has mother and child and a string of men who come and go in and out of their lives.
You make the call. We are free to make a choice. But we are most assuredly not free to choose the consequences.
NATURAL AFFECTIONS The local newspaper recently ran a zzzz series of articles which stirred up a hornets’ nest. The series featured excerpts from a newly published book by a homosexual congressman who proudly “came out of the closet.”
It wasn’t for literary value that this book, of the thousands published each year, was reviewed as extolling the sodomist lifestyle. The percentage is small of those who “exchange natural relations for unnatural ones … and receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” Rom. 1.
Another series appeared this summer which was even more shocking, and tragic in its long-range consequences. And scarcely anyone raised an eyebrow! The articles focused on the staggering number of parents in the county who orphan, abandon, and dump their children in the name of “Day Care.”
The series wasn’t about single parents who, through no fault of their own, struggle each day to keep body and soul and family together.
These parents are searching for “quality care” when they are not willing to give either “quality” or “care” to their own children. Brother, are they vocal and demanding about the “handling” and “attention” and “needs” that somebody else is supposed to supply their child!
Over and over again they sound the egotistical lament: “Too much stress at home … I like the intellectual stimulation of adults … We just bought a house ….”
“Honor thy father and thy mother” is part of it, as well as, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” The other part is children must have parents who are there for them to honor and obey.
Samuel Sava is a teacher, and he is only echoing the principles of the Scriptures when he says: “It’s not better teachers, texts, or curricula that our children need most; it’s better childhoods.
“And we will never see lasting school reform until we first see parent reform!”
The buck still stops where it ever has: “Ye fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Churches may get into the act, relieving parents of their responsibilities and giving the self-centered what they want. But that dog won’t hunt.
“If any provide not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
THE NON-MEMORIES A woman tells about shopping in a large zz OF MOM store when she heard a wee voice shriek, zzz “MOM!” She turned around at once, and the thing was, she said, other women reacted the same way to the helpless little voice.
Her own children were gone, but she would never outlive the response to “Mom,” or the accusatory “Mo-hom,” or the exasperated sigh, “Oh Maawwwm.”
Grown children have a knack for recalling stories from childhood, and stunts they pulled – some they got away with and some they didn’t.
But they don’t remember the truly sacrificial things at all. An infant daughter of ours, for example, had the colic. We took turns walking the floor with her night after weary night, burping her, rocking, singing, humming, and praying – and still she wailed and wailed.
She ate and grew in spite of it all, and one day the colic simply stopped. But today the daughter doesn’t remember a bit of it.
Did I scream in bad dreams at night, throw temper tantrums and food from a highchair, and cry from skinned knees, pinched fingers, and earaches? I must have. But only Mom would know because she was there, and I don’t remember it at all.
A child, in the crawling stage, will creep toward his mother on his own. Ten times. In an hour. If she is there. A five-year-old will speak 15,000 words to his mother. In one day’s time. If she is there.
Child psychologists are almost frightening when they tell us what is going on during the first three years of a child’s life.
Yet today’s child care culture, in the name of economic “enhancement” and “self-fulfillment,” recklessly entrusts children to total strangers.
They demand “quality care” when they are not willing to give “quality” or “care” to their very own children.
The Spanish painter Goya charged as much to paint the hands as the face, because the hands are so difficult to paint. Delsarte got so good at it, he could sit in a park and tell whether a baby was held by a maid or by its mother by the tension in the hands.
If you had a mother in whose arms you were entirely loved and secure, you received all kinds of priceless gifts you do not even remember.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed,” the Lord has so designed it, even though they may not remember exactly why.

I Samuel 18:1-16

When we study the account of David’s encounter with Goliath, we see that Saul is ineffective, even paralyzed, because he focuses on himself. The name and glory of God mean less to him than his own name and glory. But David is wonderfully effective and successful because he is not interested in his own glory and achievements, but solely in the wonderful saving name of his God. In considering the first part of the next chapter, we will focus on two thoughts: 1) Evil is always closer than we think. 2) Help is always closer than we deserve.


One of Luther’s more interesting writings, directed to the Elector Frederick of Saxony when he was quite ill, is entitled “The Fourteen of Consolation.” Following a medieval pattern, it discusses seven kinds of evil and seven kinds of good. Six of the evils Luther discusses are the evil in front of us, the evil behind us, the evil to the left, the evil to the right, and the evils above and below us. And what is the remaining evil in the list? The evil within us.

There is indeed great evil within us. “Behold,” the psalmist says, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:5. The tide of evil in the world waxes and wanes to some extent. But even in times – and don’t we yearn for such – that are not characterized by the plunges into the depths of wickedness that so appall us today, each of us must still reckon with a force that does not change: our sinful nature.

One aspect of this evil is envy, the envy that we see at work in Saul as he watches David’s success and hears the refrain sung by Israel’s women: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” We all know that Saul ultimately suffered spiritual shipwreck. Are we all aware that there was really nothing singular about what brought this about? Are we aware that what was at work in him is also at work in us? Do we realize that the evil that was so close to Saul is also close to us? Can we deny that we often experience feelings of envy?
When man acts in envy – a force that, left unchecked, can ravage a society – he is acting in perfect harmony with his essential nature. Envy is not transplanted in with great effort from the outside. It springs up naturally from the soil of man’s selfishness, which wants all for self and which will not allow to others what they have. So it is always closer than we think. And if we do not suppress it, it will grow stronger and stronger and make firmer and firmer its grip upon us, just as it did with Saul. Much activity in the political realm has its roots in envy.

At one point, Saul thinks to himself: “What more can he [David] get but the kingdom?” How badly do you suppose David wanted the kingdom? That question is answered as soon as we realize how fully David was aware that as a child of God by faith in the promised Savior, he already possessed all things. David exulted, no less than we do, in a salvation effected through Jesus, “who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. He knew that he was an heir of everlasting life. And he was happy to serve His Savior God in any capacity in this life. So what difference did it make whether he was king or not? See I Cor. 7:21-22 & 29-31.

But Saul imputes his own evil way of thinking to David. And he cannot let go of something God has resolved to take from him: the kingdom. But if we quarrel with God in His taking, how much sovereignty will we allow Him in His giving? How much wisdom is there in adopting a stance of disputing with God when God is the ultimate and supreme Giver? How much wisdom is there in being at odds with Him who poured out the blood and offered up the life of His only-begotten Son to effect salvation for undeserving sinners?

No, a child of God is content to let God be sovereign – whether in giving or in taking. And if, in the matters of lesser importance, God withholds from us and gives to others, we are content. We rejoice in whatever happiness and good fortune are enjoyed by others. These things we learn from the Holy Spirit, who overcomes the evil within.


Is there, then, no remedy for Saul? Is there no hope of any turning back? Our text also directs our attention to this truth: Help is always closer than we deserve.

Ultimately, of course, there is only one real source of help whenever the matter of sin is concerned: the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin. There is no stain so deep and dark that it has not been washed away and made white by Christ’s atoning suffering and death. There is no evil so close that it has not been buried with Christ and sealed in oblivion by the Father’s raising of Him from the dead.

But another person’s example can be used by God to lead us to repentance, and it is of that kind of example that the beginning of I Samuel 18 speaks when it tells of Jonathan’s covenant with David. Here is the man who stands to lose the throne because of the anointing of David, and yet we read of Jonathan: “He loved him [David] as himself.”

Consider the terrible isolation into which Saul is more and more locking himself. He has the most splendid example within his own household to rebuke him for his envy. But he pays no attention to it. How often this happens. How many there are who do not do much better when it comes to using undeserved help that is close to us. Wholesome counsel and healing are as close to us as our own family members as well as the wider family we have in our Christian brothers and sisters. When the varied and sharp pressures of daily existence bring out the evil within and trap us into responses that are not God-pleasing, do we draw on this resource? Or do we, pridefully, withdraw into isolation, and erect barriers? If we talk to God, can we not talk to men? If we are open with Him, can we not be with men? If we are humble before God, recognizing that all depends on His helping us, shall we not also swallow our pride when it keeps us from seeking help in the example of others?

Saul will soon direct his hatred beyond David to the one who befriended him, Jonathan. He will refer to Jonathan’s mother as a “perverse and rebellious woman” (I Sam. 20:30). Meanwhile, separating himself more and more from wholesome company, he will keep sinister company with a weapon: that spear. It is not to be passed over as meaningless when the Holy Spirit calls our attention to it on repeated occasions (19:9-10, 20:33, 26:7).
Help was also very close to Saul in the form of a striking example recorded previously in the pages of Holy Scripture. If ever a man was in a position to experience bitter envy, it was Moses. God had taken a privilege from him, the privilege of seeing the promised land. This was because of the sin of striking the rock in anger when directed to speak to it. But the Children of Israel were not at all free of guilt in this: “By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips,” Ps. 106:32-33. Moses alluded to this when addressing the Children of Israel: “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it, either,’” Deut. 1:37. Cf. also Deut. 3:23-29. But though Moses felt the loss severely, and pleaded with God about the matter, he accepted God’s will.

A post-Easter introit utilizes the verse from Peter: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word.” Saul failed to drink of the milk of the Word to counteract the evil within. May God, for Jesus’ sake, graciously preserve us from that grievous error.

We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House of the Wisconsin Synod to reprint the articles that Prof. Schaller wrote for the Northwestern Lutheran. This, the first of a number of editorials appearing over his initials in 1950, was published in the April 23, 1950, issue.

We have reason to be deeply gratified, to thank and praise God for the steady, unwavering course which our church has pursued over a period of many years in fulfilling its divine calling under the Gospel.

This is impressed upon us when we note the confusion in which the Protestant world flounders to the right and left of the God-given directive. A recent article in a liberal church periodical calls attention to the report that of late the young pastors and students of theology are no longer greatly interested in social issues, but are turning more to theology, doctrinal study, and cultivation of a devotional life. The article points out that, a generation ago, churches were sold on the belief that the well-being of the world could be effected through social action in accordance with Christian teachings. That means, in effect: Teach people their social obligations, the observation of the royal law of love, pacifism and cooperation, and the church has resolved the world’s difficulties. We well recall the days when any church whose message was not studded with socialistic phrases and political economics was considered dead and worthless.

But gradually, we are now told, it became clear that socialism was not the cure for the world’s ills. Now the emphasis is shifting to the problem of bringing the individual to reform himself from within. Young preachers are speaking more of the evil of sin and seeking the goal of a better world through individual inner improvement, a sort of spiritual redemption.

All of which, of course, is quite a hopeless babble of confusion. So long as men conceive the duty of the church and the hope of the world as lying in a solution of “the perplexing problems of society – economic justice, racial brotherhood, world peace,” it makes little difference whether the professed leaders are advocates of “a change from without” or “a change from within”; there will not be any change except for the worse. A great proportion of the Protestant church is wandering hopelessly in a labyrinth of human philosophies. The Gospel of Jesus Christ remains a great mystery to them. That is the major reason for the increasing darkness upon the land.

It can be stated very simply: Unless we begin with the doctrine of sin and grace, sin which damns eternally every soul conceived and born therein, and grace which forgives sin, which persuades men to throw themselves unconditionally upon the mercy of God and accept the sacrifice of his Son who atoned for all sin, being raised again for our justification – and unless we end our program as a church with the proclamation of that gospel and its entire body of doctrine, we contribute nothing to the cause of saving the world. It is to this proposition that our church is dedicated and to which it has hitherto held.

You Fathers……………………………………………………………p. 4
To the Point!
Patriotic Service……………………………………………………p. 10
Truth or Consequences……………………………………………p. 11
Natural Affections………………………………………………..p. 12
The Non-Memories of Mom………………………………….….p. 13
We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of
John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns
that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.
Meditating Day and Night …………………..…………….…………p. 14
Utter Confusion………………………..………………………………p. 17

In connection with the emphasis in this issue, we should like to call attention to the website, parentalrights.org, which explains that parental rights are indeed “hanging by a thread,” and to point out that one of the topics at an annual homeschooling conference this April in Minnesota is “Parental Rights: It’s Now or Never!” As this is being prepared for publication (in March), phrases like “cradle to career” and “zero to five,” to our dismay but hardly to our surprise, are being used in connection with the never-ceasing expansion of governmental control of education. The highest office in the land is occupied by someone who, if he had his way, as can be seen from his support of the Freedom of Choice Act, would not give people the option to refuse to commit a heinous act of murder. Something more antithetical to the very existence of society itself could hardly be imagined. But instead of being restricted from having any impact on society, as would be appropriate in the case of anyone of such a way of thinking, he has now been made chief executive by the American people, a position through which he may well be able to extend even further the government’s already frightful measure of control over the nation’s children. May our Heavenly Father, for Jesus’ sake, graciously thwart those working for still more state usurpation of parental prerogatives. RW

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year, payable to the Reformation Lutheran Conference. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]

— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, cries the prophet 800 long years before the birth of the Christ-child. And though wave upon wave of darkness engulfed the world during those 800 years, still at long last He arises in the temple at Jerusalem and proclaims: I am the light of the world, even as the prophet had foretold it. The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light, cried the same prophet. And though the darkness of unbelief and gross superstition had fallen like a great pall over the very people of God, it is nevertheless fulfilled by the irresistible power of the immeasurable love of God: I am the light of the world. Though all the darkness of all the ages gather together to destroy all life and being, it shall never again be that gross darkness covers the people, for the light of life is come. And though all the darkness of death be called about us in one vast fearful gloom, it shall never prevail and never pour out despair over all men. For see, the light is truly come; it shines in the midst of night and makes us the sons of light. Yes, thus we sang at the manger at Bethlehem, and with the loud gladness of that rejoicing still in our hearts, we shall be most ready to hear the Christ grown to full manhood repeat it for us with abundant assurance. Strong and sure it rings out, this
Testimony of Jesus Christ of Himself
It reads: I am the light of the world.
It claims: The record is true.


Then Jesus spoke again unto them, St. John records for us. Ah what a wealth of patience and love lies in that little word “again.” At length had He spoken to them, in the face of opposition, in the face of doubt, in the face of bitter enmity and scorn. Undeterred and unafraid, His patient love stays not its hand to bring His people light and life. Indeed in the very hour when the hatred of many of His hearers was ready to rend Him asunder, in that hour does He speak this word of immeasurable grace: I am the light of the world.

Is it not simply told, so that a little child as well as the feeblest dying one can quickly understand? He is the light, the bright warm shining light. It dispels all the gloom, for it is for all the world and all the possible darkness within it, a light so great, so resplendent, that it can and does encompass the whole wide universe at all times and ages, from the very beginning to the day of doom. All doubtful asking, Whither shall we go and what path shall we choose, is removed. The light shines clearly and sharply, so that the way is known, every way, everyone’s way, for rich and poor, great and small, in all the walks of life. All fear for the future and all its grim possibilities is engulfed in this vast light. It penetrates the farthest recesses of the years ahead, leaving no dark corner unlighted, no fearful abyss unilluminated. To the very gates of death it shines and falls upon the dark portals of that end of life. But see, it shines straightway through the gates of death and all the darkness disappears. For thus He testifies: I am the light of the world. Even more it does, this light. Oh it has a strange power: It even reaches eternity and the everlasting throne of God and shines into the very judgment chamber itself. For it is the light, the very essence of light itself, before which all uncertainty, even that of eternity must vanish. For He is the light of the world.

Oh tis a warm light, warm in His heavenly love. It is not just one of those pleasant or beautiful words, but rather a word filled with the very warmth of heaven itself. For Jesus adds: He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. Clearly, freely, fully, He pours out the blessings of this light over us, so that we shall have all its benefits. For it is the light of life, and oh that makes it plain and clear, how it is the light that covers all the world. Where the sin of man had set death, He sets the light of life. He is so strong and great, that He dispels all the gloom of sin and fills the sin-ridden world with life. Instead of wondering why we are living anyway, and what is it all about, His brightness brings the answer: You live to live forever, and death can never hold you. Your whole future is wrapped up in the light of life and all the dark corners of sickness and poverty, of wretchedness and woe, are filled with this peaceful life. Indeed, so much is He the light of life that the grave is of the brightness of life, bearing in itself the very seed of life. But best of all, this light of life continues at our side before the throne of judgment, and there dispels all the gloom of sin so that no one shall condemn us.

Yes, it shines in the midst of night and makes us the sons of light. For oh hear it well, this all belongs to us without price and without condition. The rays of this powerful light are shining in His Word in rich and fulsome promise on every page, and Jesus calls in loving invitation: Just follow the light, put all your hope and trust in this and every other word of promise and lo, you have this light of life. Set all your troubles and all your doubts and all your fears straightway into this light, and lo, the gloom of it shall vanish, so that even the greatest sorrow shall be made to glow in the warmth of His love. This is the testimony of Jesus Christ.


This record is true, this testimony is sure and correct, all human wisdom and knowledge, all human doubt and human scorn to the contrary. It would seem impossible that anyone should have an interest in doubting this testimony, of course. But there it is: The Jews immediately assail His record, and claim it to be false, because He has no witnesses to bear Him out, because He is only talking for Himself and in His own favor. It would but be a waste of time to speak of the long, long list of men following after the example of the Jews and doubting the testimony of the Master. For it is but a mournful reminder of our own continuous doubts and uncertain waverings concerning the Master.

The blessedness of our text is the definite assurance that all doubts concerning the security in the light of life should never hold our hearts. For Jesus knows. Ah yes, He knows, not only all our weaknesses and our sins and many, many iniquities. Much more does He know all those things of which we are so hopelessly ignorant. And so He knows that He is the light of the world, that every one may follow after Him, and that surely the light of life is then ours. For see, He knows whence He came. Far, far back does His knowledge go. In this hour He remembers the time when in the eternities before the world ever was made, He was with the Father. There they planned to make a light in the world when it shall have been plunged into darkness. The whole plan was worked out into the last detail. But more, much more: They saw every one of us and recorded us by name and determined that we should see this light of life and be saved. There in the heavens, where all is light and lasting life, the plan was made to reveal to us here in this land, how the Savior was born and how He would remove all sin and all the curse of death and make us heirs of heaven. Knowing this, how should He not so surely declare: I am the light of the world.
But also does He know whither He goes. Oh how much certainty is there. He knows so definitely. A few words after our text John says that they wanted to kill Him then, but they could not, for His hour was not yet come. He definitely knew whither He was going: to Gethsemane and to Golgotha to triumph over all the woes of man and make the light shine in the world; to the grave and back to life, that He might plant eternal life in the world; to the heavenly throne and the right hand of God, whence He would send His light and His life back to us as our sure heritage and possession. Ah yes, He has all knowledge in a world of uncertainty and doubt. His record is true and we may rest our souls content in His assurance: He is our light.

Yes, His judgment is true, for He is not alone, never alone in that loving plan to save the children of men. He and the Father are together, the Father who had sent Him and the Son who had come to save them which were lost. All the immeasurable powers of the heavens in mighty array stand together in this one thing: For all men shall we make light that all darkness and fear and sadness and gloom shall be broken. We shall bind the evil foe in chains and break His awful power, so that it may become true in all the world among all nations and all races of people: The light has come and shines in the darkness.

And so the testimony is true and sure, so that we may walk in the light of it with security. Through the years we may carry all our sins and unbeliefs into the blessed light and have His seal of forgiveness. Through the years we carry our tears and sadness into His bright presence and have them hallowed and all the curse surrounding them dispelled. Through the years we take our griefs over our departed ones into the light of life, and ever live in the sure knowledge of an eternal resurrection and the life. And at the end of years we shall take our own death as it creeps upon us with its awful darkness and drag it with feeble hands into the light of life and lo, our death shall become a warm and kindly friend, with whom we shall walk on into the light of eternal life.

Oh Zion, arise and shine: Let thy light shine among men, that all remotest nations shall come to His light and all people to the brightness of His rising: For He, He is the light of the world. Amen.

Jesus Christ, the true high priest and king of His vast invisible kingdom, that kingdom without end, reaches into the heaven to the throne of the eternal Father, that He might take from the Father’s hand the blessed gift of unity for His kingdom. Elect from every nation, scattered over all the face of the earth, spread out across the endless centuries, separated by language and customs and space and time, lo, they are to be one, as He and the Father are one, firmly knit and welded together, fused into one inseparable whole, in a unity which shall culminate in the glorious one fold and one shepherd in the eternal kingdom of the blessed. His cry rises to heaven and the eternal throne, and as ever, it is heard. The beloved Son never cries in vain, the gift is taken from the heavens, and His kingdom has it, an unshakable, unalterable unity to the end of time, to all the long eternities. Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth.

Oh blessed be His name, that He has thus assured us. For sorely does it irk us and often fiercely oppress us, that His kingdom should be so invisible to human ken, that it comes not at all with observation, that it should be in the world, but not at all of the world. With earthbound minds men love to drag His vast kingdom also onto the earth to make it an earthly power, to make it something to be reckoned with by all the men outside of the fold, to make it known as a visibly great thing and earthly active thing, and therefore to bind it together into one vast visible whole, to which men look with awe and admiration. We even like to dream that then this kingdom would grow and prosper more, that men would flock to it, and that the world would finally learn to think the Gospel great if only the kingdom were visibly large.

Alas, by this earthly and faithless thinking, men of great sincerity and high ideals have ever dragged down the visible church of Jesus into the dust of the earth and soon lost all the true unity which Christ has given to His church invisible. And so we bless His name and praise His love and mercy which so much assure us in our text, that His kingdom is truly knit together in one, a unity that is a gift of heaven which no man or power can break or shatter. We need not even pray that this unity remain, for it has been established long ago by the king of His people. But we do pray Him to help us keep in mind that His kingdom comes not with observation, that all visible pomp and display is not at all of His true kingdom nor a part of it, that the unity of His kingdom is invisible and a gift of heaven, so that we might thus prayerfully endeavor to cling to this unity and hold it as a treasure of trusting faith. And we do pray that He might help us to pattern with all faithfulness our visible church organization, whether it be a congregation or a conference or a large synod, that it may conform in the highest measure to the description of His true invisible kingdom, to the glory of His name and of His Word. That we might more diligently do this and in the true spirit of Christ, we shall try with the help of His Spirit to see the vast foundation of that true unity of His kingdom, to see the immensity of the power that binds together, to see the glory and the beauty of the congregation of saints in all the world. Oh see the Savior’s gift:

The unity of the Spirit
It is bound up in His name.
It is sanctified by His Word.
It is exalted by His glory.


Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one. Lo, the impossible is to come to pass: The entirely scattered elect over all the earth, hopelessly separated and with no visible tie to bind them together, are to be one, bound together in an inseparable unity that shall have no end. No organization, no regulations, no possible meetings, no agreements, no force of control of any kind there can possibly be, for they are so widely separated by time and space. They do not even know each other, much less have any sure and physical contact with each other. Tis a widely divided throng of uncounted and unnumbered ones, who cover the face of the universe and the long corridors of time. And to this Jesus sets His hand to join with the Father in making a unity of them.

And lo, the impossible comes to pass. The king finds a way, the high priest in His immeasurable love finds the one tie that shall firmly knit and hold them all together: Keep them, He cries, keep them through Thy name, that they may be one. The name of the eternal God is to be the binding tie holding the kingdom joined together forever. Ah, here is a new thing, an entirely unheard-of and unthought-of thing: a vast congregation bound not by law and statute, nor by mutual agreement, nor by force of any kind of control, but simply by and through the name of their God. And it has been so fulfilled, in a full trust and confidence we know it and rejoicing also know full well why it indeed had to come about. For the name of God, the eternal name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, ah, that is something to conjure with, something to work miracles by, something of still unmeasured strength and immensity.

For see, in that name are poured out all the blessings of heaven. Not only does the name give authority to give the blessings, but the very name itself contains it and passes it on as a stream of life-blood to His elect. The very name Jesus pronounces the cancellation of all sins and makes an holy people, without blemish and without spot. The very name Father pours out all daily bread and shelter and protection without end and bound. The name Spirit causes to pour forth all the spiritual gifts of the eternal home, all love and joy and hope and peace past understanding. The name Jehovah is as a sure foundation, making the agreement of God to save them eternally an absolute surety to all His own. Like a vast tower of strength and security here and forever are the names Mighty God, King of Kings, Lord of Hosts. With chains of love and lovingkindness as an unheard-of binding force are the names Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Prince of Peace. We will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever, cry His elect, in the sure guidance of the names Counselor, the Way and the Truth, the Comforter. Into the chamber of death and up to the awful throne in sure confidence we walk in the sure companionship of the Resurrection and the Life, the judge of the quick and the dead. Holy Father, keep them through Thy name that they may be one.

Oh see the unity of the Spirit. Tis nothing vague, nothing unclear, nothing uncertain. Ten thousand times ten thousand are bound together and firmly united in trusting faith and confidence in the name of our God. Daily and hourly all the elect of God are blessed with abundant blessing in His name. Year in, year out, more are added to the union in the name of the Tri-une God at the baptismal waters. Month after month the name of Jesus is written upon them in His blood of the holy sacrament. Morning and evening, day and night, the invisible host kneels in the fellowship of prayer crying in unison of faith and voice: Abba, Father. Oh, an unbreakable union and unity it is; for see, the name remains, it remains unchanged forever, subject neither to the vagaries of the human heart nor to the justice and wrath of the eternal God. Once established, it stands forever and through it the kingdom is held in close unity without fail.

Ah, in the present striving after unions and combining of forces of the church visible, O Zion see to it that you follow the pattern of the church invisible. Remember and see that the Lord our God and Father alone can make and give the unity of the Spirit. It is a miracle from His hand, to which man can add nothing, which man can only greatly hinder or spoil. We can but see with adoring eyes when the miracle has been wrought before our eyes in the church visible and give all glory to Him. For His alone is the name and all its blessings, and He alone does give it to men, women, and children to have and to hold in confident faith unto death. Where’er we find some fellowmen who thus are bound and held by the name of the only God, do we proclaim a union and a unity of the Spirit in praise and thanks to God, who alone does wondrous things.


But knowing well the weakness of the flesh, the waywardness of the human heart, the pride and arrogance of mind and heart dwelling within sinful men, the Master prays for absolute security for the unity of His kingdom. For had He not seen how the church visible of His day had misused the name of their God, how they had filled it with heathen thought and fancy, how they had removed from it the grace and the blessing? Had He not seen how dead had become their faith, how self-righteous their heart? And so the church of His saints must be made safe, that theirs shall be a sure unity of the Spirit, with sure foundation to stand upon, a foundation that shall not be moved. Therefore the love of the high priest prompts Him to cry to the Father: Sanctify them in Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.

Yes, they are indeed the communion of saints, this kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Sanctified, that is, set aside from all the world, it is a peculiar people, all alone of its kind. They are in the world, yet not of the world, for they are sanctified in the truth. Their purpose in life, their purpose in death, their plans and hopes for eternity, all are different from anyone and anything else in the world, for they are sanctified. Wherever they are, whoever they may be, whenever and under whatever circumstances they may live, they are all unified and one in this sanctification in the truth. Not in self-service nor in self-righteousness nor in earthly-mindedness, not in service of sin and vice, but as the free men of God, they have one steadfast purpose: serve the Lord with gladness, come into His presence with singing; know ye that the Lord, He is God; He hath made us and we are His, we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. [Ps. 100:3]

And the foundation of the saints of the Lord is the Word. Oh the sure Word, the clear Word, the Word full of strength and power. In absolute clarity it proclaims the truth, the truth of salvation, the truth of life and death, of sin and grace. In absolute firmness it establishes the truth of the justification of sinners, the salvation through conversion, the security in the eternal election of grace, the sanctification of the Spirit, the sure hope of everlasting life. In unswerving truthfulness it gives information on the foes that threaten, concerning the heresies that endanger the truth, concerning false doctrines that pervert the soul. With gentle patience it leads on the road that carries us from this world into the eternal bliss. Of all things in all the world it never changes, never grows old, is always just right for all possible conditions, never requiring interpretation, never an argument. Thy Word is truth, the whole communion of saints sings rejoicing in the firm foundation of the Lord’s elect.

There, there is the sure ground also for the unity of the Spirit. Grouped about the Word, resting on the Word, trusting in the sure Word, believing and hoping in all the promises of this Word, the church is one. It is very jealous of this Word, that no one touch or change or alter it, so that Paul even cries if an angel from heaven would dare to alter it, he would be accursed. For it is the complete revelation and source of information on which the church’s entire hope rests. It is in every word and every syllable the very word of God itself, and in one sure unity of thought and spirit the elect rest their hopes upon it unto death.

For safety and security it has been given, this Word, not only for the sure knowledge of eternal life for each individual Christian, but also for a sure foundation of Christian fellowship. As the invisible church is united in one on the sure basis of the inspired Word, so the church visible of the true faith bases all Christian fellowship after this pattern. As we can not look into the hearts of all who claim to be our fellow Christians, the Word has become the judge of Christian fellowship and union and ever must remain the only guide. Very jealous is the church of this Word. It will not do to speak in pious generalities on this vital matter, nor can compromise ever satisfy the saints of God. It is not deterred by accusations of lack of brotherly love and sins against the Eighth Commandment, knowing well that the Word brooks no careless wording of doctrine, knowing that the Word is truth and all human words patterned in doctrinal form must agree in every syllable and conform to the Word. For the Word alone is truth and in that truth the salvation of man doth rest. If but one small fraction of the Word is perverted, the whole structure will finally fall.

Full well do we know that under this standard the church of the true Word will always be small and fighting under stress and strain. Full well do we understand that it is hardly possible or to be expected that large visible bodies will be clearly united and under such stern ruling of the Word. But we also know full well that such large unions are not essential to the well-being of the true church invisible. Calmly and serenely does the Master carry on in His invisible kingdom and with sure hand set aside those who shall be saved. Sanctified in Thy truth, O Lord, set aside and separated from even the smallest slight upon Thy Word, we shall in Thy strength and on the strong basis of Thy Word endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, the peace that passes understanding.


The glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one. Ah, yes, that unity of the Spirit has a splendor which transcends all human and worldly splendor, past computation and past all understanding of the human mind. In this glorious splendor does the church invisible rest completely satisfied and seeks no other, despising all human forms of glory and greatness, lest they lose the heavenly and divine, which Christ their Lord called down from the heavens upon them. United they stand in the glory of Jesus Christ and the Father.
For that was no miserly hand which poured forth this last and greatest of all the unifying blessings. The central name and pillar established, the sure and lasting foundation laid in the Word, the Master opens the horn of plenty which is in heaven and pours forth the superlative majesty and power and glorification of all the eternities upon His people when He asks from the Father’s hand: The glory which Thou hast given Me, I have given them. Ah, human words will ever fail to completely describe this glory and splendor of the Son of God. We find in His Word how many dozens of times the Lord speaks of this glory, and yet we only dimly realize its immeasurable supremacy. It manifests itself in the superlative power of the Son of God when He calls a Lazarus from the grave, as the powerful Master of life and death. It appears upon the pages of history when He proves Himself the ruler of nations and kingdoms, causing them to rise and to fall, shifting about the countless millions of men at His good pleasure. We catch a glimpse of it upon the hill of transfiguration, and again after His resurrection, when neither time nor space counted for ought to Him, the utterly glorified One. A Stephen saw another view of His glory when heaven was opened to Him and He cries out in joyful wonder that he sees the judge of the quick and dead sitting at the right hand of the power of God. We dimly realize it in the word the only-begotten Son of the Father, one with the eternal one, the only heir of all the heavens and owner of all the world. But oh far above it all we see the glory and rejoice in it with heavenly joy when we see His arms stretched out upon the cross on Calvary, reaching out to all the ends of the earth and claiming all the souls of man through His innocent suffering and death: the Savior glory of the Son of God. In all His works is His glory, a glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

And all His glory and all His works which are His glory He has given unto His own, that they and He and the Father should be one in fulsome unity. In strong faith the members of the church invisible cling to this, for truly His kingdom comes not with observation. We see the weakness and the sinfulness, the lack of faith and trust, the worldliness and earthliness in all their ugliness. But hidden from the eyes of men and known only to the King of Kings is the glory that belongs to His church, His own glory, which He has given them. Theirs is the power with which they overcome the fears of death, the burdens of this life, the terrors of the judgment. With Him they are the kings who rule with Him in the strength of the faith that is in them, judging all things and being judged of no one. Within themselves they carry that new man, which is their earthly portion of the glorification which shall be made known fully hereafter. With Him they shall in heaven rule and judge, as they who have been chosen before the beginning of time. With Him they are the sons of God, crying freely to the Father, sharing in His possessions, heirs of His heavenly kingdom. And as they walk this world, they are His priests, who gather in His name the eternally saved ones to complete the flock, which shall be forever one. Hidden before all eyes, the glory of Jesus Christ is fully given to all the kingdom’s members, and by His glory and work they are one, with one hope, one faith, one work, which nothing will cause to cease.

Oh give us faith and trust, O Lord, to surely know that Thy kingdom comes not with observation, that Thy glory is there, and that we be filled with joy in this, not desiring any other. Outward greatness, greatness in numbers visible, greatness in much doing that is seen of men, are not a part of the glory. In the end all externals will only serve to disrupt the church of Christ visible. But that the glory of Christ is ours and that in true service to Him we conform as much as possible the visible church to the invisible – that must be our stern endeavor. Any outward union must base itself on such inner unity, must show itself in equal belief in the inner hidden glory of the church, must be based on a uniformity of practice, conforming to this inner kingdom. For how shall ever the futile and immature organizations of man and all their greatness compare with the glory which we have as the sons of God?

O Lord of Hosts, we pray for Thy Spirit, that we avoid all earthly-mindedness in Thy kingdom, all ill-begotten fellowship with others holding not Thy truth, and endeavor to keep the true unity of the Spirit, that there may still be for our children a church visible of the true faith. Abide with us until Thou hast made true the promise: Then, then there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Amen.

The law and the prophets were until John; from that time the Gospel of the kingdom of God is preached. Yes, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven is at hand – that is the sum and substance, the keynote of the New Testament dispensation. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, is king, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His cry rings out into all the world: Repent ye, repent ye, turn away from all the foolish philosophies and the vain religious fancies of man: The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This rings out true and sure throughout His Word, and our text for today is no exception. As you read it or hear it, forget not that the king of His kingdom is speaking to His people with the voice of creative authority. He does not make demands on His people, as though He were a dispenser of a new system of laws and regulations; much rather does He with all His words, even when He calls upon His people to do something, work as the creative king who makes His demands come to pass. He is king indeed, the true king who gives to His people that which He asks of them. Oh see Him deal with the ugly foe of man, of sinful greedy man: the mammon of unrighteousness. Even this foe must bow to the King of Kings, even this ruler and god of the hearts of men must come to serve the Master. Let our text preach it to you in definite and heartening assurance:

Christ is the master of mammon.
He makes it work for Him.
He gives its efforts divine results.


Even as all the works of the king of His kingdom are glorious and delightful beyond compare and beyond human language to utter, thus all the doings of the steward in our text are loathsome and evil. He is indeed a true example of one who is utterly under control of the love of the mammon of unrighteousness, and the whole story is a sharp lesson in vivid contrasts. The most alarming part of the little parable is the fact that it is so very true to life that one can hardly imagine how mammon, the king of the world, can be overcome.

Because the steward is under the wretched control of the love of money, all the things he does as told in the story are utterly wrong and evil. If one sums his actions up, he finds that his is a service entirely for self, a selfish, sordid, greedy life from beginning to end. He receives the job of being a steward, a caretaker of a rich man’s estate and goods. Instead of rejoicing in his good fortune that he has work and a means of livelihood, he is taken into the powerful control of the master mind mammon, and he proceeds to produce the fruits of evil selfishness. The steward wastes the master’s goods, on the assumption of course that he has just as much right to riches as the other one. Diverting the funds to his own use, he leads a merry life while it lasts, in the short-sightedness of the selfish one. Then he is caught and the inevitable is about to happen: He is to pay for his evil deeds. An accounting is to be made and he sees that his position will be taken from him. But still the mammon god’s control holds true. Instead of attempting to make good for his evil ways, he only plans to save himself. He neither is able to nor wants to labor with his hands, nor does he want to lose his high social position by turning to begging, where his poor self might be touched. And so the evil plan is conceived and carried out: The rich man is to be defrauded once more, the debts of the debtors to be reduced by changing the accounts on their notes and in the books, so that a long list of friends may be the steward’s portion, through whom he hopes to live and thus continue to exist without working.

No, tis not a pretty picture, but then it is not intended to be; it is only a true picture of the kingdom of the evil god mammon, who controls so many human minds and hearts. Small wonder that the King of Kings warns so earnestly in His Word against the danger of riches and the love of them. But oh see, the Master turns in his turn to master the evil influence which is rampant in the world. In His kingdom this evil selfish, greedy master is not to have control; nay, he is to be bound in chains and enslaved and made to work for the Lord of all. The Lord does not even deign to wipe him out, for He will not let Himself be hindered from handing out even His earthly blessings, which consist in worldly treasures also. The evil influence is only bound and chained and made to serve the Master.

So the order has gone out to the kingdom: Make use of the foe who has been bound and chained. He does not and cannot control you, as he does the children of this world of darkness. Take the mammon of unrighteousness and make it to walk in the ways of light, so strange to it. For if the evil steward with his selfish plans could at least hope to make friends for himself and could even thus earn the commendation that he had a large amount of wisdom, how much more can you, the children of light, do it in the real sense of the word: Make yourselves friends with the use of the mammon that enters your life.

The order has gone out, and lo, for centuries it has been made to come about. In all the history of the church through all the centuries, the beautiful poetic justice has come to the mammon of unrighteousness: It had to serve the children of God in making true friends of countless children of men. Ah yes, true friends indeed: The dollars went out, not to be given away as gifts and to buy friendship, which can never be done anyway, as the steward later no doubt found out to his cost, but rather to make it possible for the message of the kingdom of heaven to reach men, who became thus true friends indeed, friends very like unto the givers, friends whose friendship could not be false at all.

Ah, there is the true wisdom that is from the heavens. See the mastery of Christ over mammon which He makes come true in His kingdom. The secret of that success for His people lies in the deep knowledge that they are the free-men of God, who are not servants, but the masters of the god of gold. Ever must he serve the kingdom of Christ to make more and more friends, an endless army of the children of the kingdom. And so, whenever the evil foe of greed and selfishness within the heart raises the ugly head, we turn on him and hurt him where he is the most vulnerable and weakest: We give him away and turn over the mammon of unrighteousness into the glorious kingdom of the King of Kings, blest forever.


The pressure upon the members of the true kingdom from all the evil examples all about, is, of course, tremendous, and alas, greed and selfishness so often win the victory that the church in all its work almost always appears on the verge of poverty, when it should indeed have a great plenty of the mammon of unrighteousness to serve the Master. But the Master does not so far make us feel inferior, though we deserve it, that He would show how the life of crime with this evil steward did not pay, so that we might not try to serve him. The steward apparently was quite successful with his crime; at least the story ends at that point, the result being of little importance in the case of the unhappy steward. We could just as well imagine though that he was badly deceived later on, for the friendship of such who were willing to steal and rob with him must surely have been a sorry thing.

But much more than this does the fact stand out that the miserable one was dependent on the bounty of others, and that he had to look to them for a habitation in the future. There again lies the sharp contrast in our text. Most pointedly does the Master refrain from making a comparison at this point, as if His children would possibly be in the position of lacking a habitation in the future, either here or in the eternities. Ah no, there we are in a different case: Our habitation is as sure as there is a heaven. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and in His unfathomable love has He called us in to be eternal members of that kingdom. That which all the mammon in the world could never buy is our own possession even before we asked for it. It is sealed to us for good in baptism, is given over and over again in every promise of the Word, is ever made consciously personally our own in the sacrament, and is bequeathed to us in the testamental words: I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also. Oh certainly not do we ever compare with that poor wretch who had no home to look forward to. The mammon of unrighteousness can never have a part in buying our costly mansion in heaven, which was purchased with the blood of the Son of God.

No, our habitation shall not fail us, that is certainly true. But the god mammon, ah, that is a different thing. To his humiliation it is even taken for granted by the Master: He shall fail, and he shall fail us woefully. And so, where the steward and all the wise ones of this world put a great and firm reliance in him, the children of light find him a very much broken reed, upon whom it is not good to rest. In fact, he is nothing to depend on at all, because he has no independent existence anymore. That was all changed on Calvary’s hill, when all the power and dominion were taken over by the Son of God. He also took over the reins of government in all the world. Since then the god of gold is only an idol of the imagination of man and ever, ever fails them. Indeed at all points he is most to be despised, and only of value then, when the children of light in Jesus’ name set him to work.

But then, ah then he not only makes friends for them, but those are friends indeed, friends that remain true through death and even to all eternity. For the Master gives the unique promise, without a parallel in all the pages of the world: These friends shall receive you in their eternal habitations. For the mammon shall finally fail when the grim hour of death has come, and all the wealth in the world will not avail anymore. And see, among the natural dreads of death which follow us through life there is also that grim feeling of aloneness, when we are forced to go through the dark portals without human companionship. Death is so personal a matter that it happens to each one of us alone. But it shall be but a moment, and then lo, what a host is there to greet us: all the saints and all the blessed, from the beginning of time till now. All the relatives and family members who entered there ahead of us. But that is all taken for granted and never mentioned in the Word. But this remarkable thing is mentioned: When you and I shall arrive over there, the friends who were gained by means of the mammon of unrighteousness in the service of His mission work, these friends shall be there to receive us. We shall probably not have known any of them here on earth; for how shall we tell just who was reached through the efforts made possible by our personal mammon which we gave? But they shall be there, the Master declares, in full numbers, to invite us to visit their mansions in the skies, which we have helped to bring them. Ah, who can fully imagine the happy thronging in the heavens among the endless numbers of friends.

Yes indeed, that is a fitting way to treat the mammon of unrighteousness. The Lord is king indeed and makes heaven and earth serve His good pleasure, so that He shall be king indeed. Oh see, My brethren, when the desire to become rich and have much, the desire to hoard the riches of the world and rather let His kingdom go begging, come over us, let us break them with the strength of the king, and make it serve to gain a host of friends, with whom we shall, please God, enjoy all the wealth of heaven. Amen.

Jesus goes to Jericho to seek and to save the lost. So He walked endless weary miles, through heat and drought, through hatred and scorn, through ungratefulness and thoughtlessness, to seek and save the lost. So He has walked through the endless corridors of the centuries, over mountains and through valleys, through nations and kingdoms, over land and over sea, to seek and save the lost. An endless quest it is, taken up over and over again, as every new generation is born into the world, generations of lost and condemned sinners born lost and condemned; but with an infinite patience and a heavenly love it never ceases, never until the divine love shall have found the very last lost one and saved him unto eternal blessedness.

Ah, how small and puny, how ill-begotten and misspent do all the efforts of man appear beside this vast activity of the Son of God. All man’s vaunted strength, his wars and conquests, his seeking in science and invention, his industrial efforts, his ceaseless quest after riches and honor, how woebegone and useless it all appears. His efforts dot the pages of history for a brief moment, and then the wind passes over them and even their place is known no more. For it is small and ill-begotten in the lost and condemned brain of man. But the glory of the Lord fails never. His ceaseless toil is never vain; He seeks the lost and finds them to save them evermore. He found His lost one in Jericho and saved him. He has multiplied this success 10,000 times 10,000 until it finally came down to us, to find us and to save us. Ah, so nearly does this concern us, that we must needs spend the time today to speak about it. For life and happiness, security and eternal salvation depend up it that:

Jesus finds and saves the lost.
For He abides with him.
He makes good the promise for him.


Poor Zachaeus wanted to see Jesus, for he wanted to know who this Jesus really was. But he was too small to see Him; the people all stood in his way and prevented him from even catching a glimpse of this man of whom people talked so much. He did not know, of course, that Jesus was going to Jericho that day just to look for him, and so he runs ahead to climb on the sycamore tree along the road so that he might see Jesus and thus know who He really might be. Poor Zachaeus, he was still too small, much too small. The sycamore tree was also too tiny to give him scope enough to see that vast and endless scene which is included when a poor mortal wants to know who Jesus is. What a disappointment would have been in store for him if Jesus had just walked by and Zachaeus would just have looked down upon Him. He would have been just as wise after as he was before, and still he would not have known Jesus. Alas, he was very much too small.

But oh see, the poor and small Zachaeus becomes suddenly one of whom all the ages speak down to our day. He is a blessed Zachaeus, oh very much blessed. For Jesus had set out to find him, and what He sets out to do, He does indeed. He finds Zachaeus and calls to him to come down from his ridiculous little tree from which he had hoped to gather knowledge of Jesus. Come down, Zachaeus, I have found you and now I shall let you find Me and truly know Me. Come with Me, for I must abide with you today.

And lo, onto the immense heights of that “Abide with Him” the Master takes Zachaeus to show him all the riches. No, not the riches of this world which come to nought. He shows him the riches of the vast and endless kingdom of the blessed. Sitting on high in the presence of the king beside Him on His throne, Zachaeus sees it unfold before him. Yes, there is the king, the King of Kings, robed in the splendor of the redeeming king. The robe is of the rich scarlet of His blood. For with it He has bought for Himself the priceless souls of men. Proudly the king bears the robe, for with it He has cloaked countless thousands so that curses and condemnation can not strike them. Zachaeus sees them come, the endless thousands, all covered with the same robe as the king, with holiness upon their brow and peace in their hearts. Ah, from the great height in the presence of the king the scene is endless, stretching back through the endless hundreds of years to the beginning; and in the long halls of time the subjects of the ruler are to be found, all chanting the hymn of honor and glory: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain and has redeemed us unto God. And oh see, as Zachaeus beholds, his eyes are opened and he knows the Christ: tis not the lowly Jesus of Nazareth at all, tis the Messiah, the long-awaited, the prophesied one, with all the promises come true. It is, it is the king of Israel.

Ah, behold, Jesus has found little Zachaeus and lifted him up beside Him upon His royal throne that he might see all the kingdom and the power and the glory, and seeing to know: It is all mine, mine together with the king, for He abides with me.

Oh it is so heartening and so encouraging for us small ones, my brethren. Yes alas, we are always again small and little of stature, so very small that we cannot see Him oh so often. The people are in the way, with their hates and their envies, their unbelief and their scorn, their vices and crimes. They trouble our souls and disturb our peace of heart, so that we lose sight of Him. And then we try to climb upon the puny heights of our own knowledge to find explanation and peace of heart, but the tears dim our eyes, and the sorrows cloud our vision so that we can not see. Until His voice comes to us again and calls: O ye of little faith. How often has He not taken us and gently led us back into His Word, speaking the while in accents of tender love: There, there I abide with you. He opened our eyes as we heard and lo, we knew Him again, as our Savior and our king in whom we have salvation through His blood and with it an eternal security. For next to Him and all His redeeming greatness, oh how small and trivial and of no account must all the seemingly great calamities and fearsome events in the world become. Of major and supreme importance it must always be: In love He has found us and has lifted us up to sit with Him upon His throne in calm security.


Into the quiet beauty and peaceful charm of the two abiding together tramp the clumsy feet of those who murmur and complain. It is as it always was and no doubt always shall be: They do not like it at all that He took this lowly one and abode with him. What a self-righteous crew, thinking themselves so much better than this publican. Ah, if Zachaeus was small, how insignificant do these become. While the people were in the way for Zachaeus, these in turn stood in their own path. Their self-righteousness passes all bounds, and their hypocrisy is astounding. For in reality they are so angry because this Zachaeus was a chief of the publicans, and the publicans hurt them where it hurt the most: They took their money from them and gave it to the hated Romans. Because the publican touched their god money, they called him a sinner. Alas, they have wrapped their soul about with so much iniquity that they do not even try to know Jesus.

But fortunately, oh so fortunately, Jesus knows them well and is entirely unperturbed by their murmuring, continuing steadfastly on His course. In fact, He not only shows himself in all His redeeming glory to Zachaeus but makes it oh so sure that he would have the promise, the old old promise assuredly for himself. The while these outside continue to call the publican evil names, the Master quietly turns to him, as if he would say: Never mind these poor blind ones outside. I will give you your true name, friend Zachaeus: You are also a son of Abraham, and thus this day has salvation come to this house.

Ah yes, there are no half-measures with the great king. He takes the glory of the heavens and of the promises of the eternal God and carries them into the dwelling of the publican. You are a son of Abraham, and now I make you heir of all the riches of your illustrious forefather. The Romans may have your land and your wealth; the land your fathers had before may all be gone and you may appear poor and outcast. But be not troubled, for what I have promised and have given your forefather Abraham, that heritage is still untouched and unspoiled and can never, never become exhausted. Oh listen, Zachaeus, it is the salvation which you saw, as I abode with you and showed you all the riches of My kingdom. How it is your own, you have it as a sure heritage of the promise of the eternal God. As it was given to Abraham, so it is yours, to have and hold forever.

Oh see, Zachaeus is not small of stature anymore. How proudly he bears himself: He has a place, a definite and sure place in the kingdom of the saints of heaven. The Master has given him the place and his very own it is, reserved to him. On his head he wears invisible a crown, the crown of the kings of God, who rule with Him forever. Upon his breast he wears invisible the breastplate of the royal priests of God, who bear in treasure chests the blood of the Lamb of God with forgiveness and life everlasting. Now, now Zachaeus is a great one, a free man, the chains of darkness taken from him, the freedom of heaven his own and cherished possession. For Jesus, the king, has made the promise come to pass again.

Yes, the crown and the high estate of Zachaeus are invisible, but we can see the miraculous effect. He has grown so tall, this Zachaeus, that he can even look beyond the great idol, gold, and think less and less of it. Ah, he is even so great now that he can see how sinful and vile his own heart and his own deeds were. Freed of the chains, he comes unasked to the Master and declares to Him what he shall now do: give away large sums of money to the many, many poor, and return all the wrongfully gotten gains fourfold to those whom he had robbed. No, Zachaeus is not trying to show how good he now is. He has only seen how great and vast is the kingdom of the Lord and of little account is wealth if not used to serve the Master.

With this happy note the beautiful story comes to its end. We stand rather ashamed before it, do we not, to see how this Zachaeus, but so shortly blessed with that which you and I have possessed lo these many years, has become so tall of stature and so great in service. In our baptism He has secured the promise to us; our place is assured us, our place in the great kingdom of the Lord, which shall have no end. He has named us the true spiritual children of Abraham, and all the promise is our heritage to hold forever, to pass on to our children, to secure for us all the safety of the kings and priests of God. Ah dear Lord, raise us up to the heights of this glory which Thou hast given us and help us throw off the yoke of bondage with which we bind ourselves. In loving devotion to Thee help us forget ourselves and serve Thy kingdom, so that all the world might know and see: The Lord has found and saved us, whereof we are glad. Amen.

To lead us unto Bethlehem and to the manger there, the loving, kindly voice of Jehovah calls to us: My people. Oh what a wealth of strength and assurance, lovingkindness and tender mercy lies in the name. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. There shall no evil befall us and no harm draw nigh unto our dwelling. Come, My people, come again to the manger in the night and see the love of God; see it, and take comfort. Ah yes, it is delightful to have this invitation from the eternal God. It is filled so much with promises of great things when we come to Christmas and its blessings. Today, this week before Christmas, He would have us surely know:

You shall find comfort in the Christ-child.
This comfort shall be complete.
It shall be easy to find.
It shall be sure to us.


Indeed we shall find complete comfort at the manger of the Christ-child. He speaks so comfortably to us and with but a few words wipes out the gloom of this life brought onto us by the sins of the world, declares an end to the struggle in whose web man finds himself ensnared, and promises in their stead the gifts of heaven that they may dwell with us and be our portion. That should be enough for any sinful man, even for the most exacting and grasping.

Countless thousands before us have thus found peace in Bethlehem. For as the Jews of old were suffering and crying in the bondage of slavery ground under the heel of the cruel Babylonians, and dwelling in captivity in the strange land, until He came and rescued them and made their warfare to case, their time of service as slaves to end, setting them to be free men in the service of the eternal God who had saved and redeemed them; so does He with all who come to kneel before the holy child in the manger bed.

This gift of the eternal God is the loud and clear message to all sinful men: I have come to the rescue for men in the bondage of sin. The warfare is over and past, the time of slavery is ended. No more shall anyone tell us that we are under the curse of sin and the wrath of God; for the Christ is come and has ended it. No more shall any voice of conscience dare to hold us in the bond of fear and accusation; for the Christ is come to end the endless struggle, that the voice of troubled hearts be raised no more. No more shall the thought oppress that we are under the evil control of the old sin in our heart; for the Christ has come to break the evil power. The warfare is over and past.

Then this voice from the manger adds: The iniquity is pardoned. The punishment is complete and is accepted in payment. As the Lord of old had mercy on His people and after 70 years decided, It is enough, I shall count the atonement complete, though it was not in truth and never could be, so much more and in full truth does it cry on Christmas day: The iniquity is now truly pardoned, and full atonement is accepted. For this child in the manger is now the only one who bears the curse and wrath of God for all the iniquity of man from the beginning of time to the end of days. Oh He bears it well, this eternal Son from the havens. Not for nought was His name called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. If He has taken over the burden of the guilt and all its attending horrors, then all is well indeed. The iniquity shall never, never curse again.

Oh completely comforting is this comfort of our God: For He shall give double for all the sins. The eternal God is our refuge as of old; for as He then assured His people that they shall return home and shall be doubly blessed, outweighing far in blessing their many sins and unbelief; so does He year for year assure us through the voice on Christmas day: Ye shall receive double for all your sins. Oh see, the Christ-child Himself is your possession. He who owns the world and all its wealth, who controls the lives and destinies of all men, who holds the key of heaven and hell in His hands, He is our own, a gift of the heavenly Father. Ah He might well have said: Ye shall receive a million times for all your sins. For death He gives us life, for sins He gives us sanctity, for hell and all its torments he gives eternal blessedness.

Oh comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Though we have the comfort even today, please God it shall be even surer and clearer to us again on Christmas day.


So come to Bethlehem on Christmas day and brush the tears from your eyes that they may not darken your sight; push aside all false treasure and worthless delights, which may cause you to stumble, and come to see the glory of the Lord.

But no, why should I call on you to do this, when you can not do it, as little as I can for myself? For the valleys of the shadows are there, as they lay in the path of God’s people of old on their return to the homeland, the valleys of sorrow and fear and doubt, into which our feet forever are straying. They are terribly real and fearful to us. So are the rugged and jagged hills that lie suddenly in our path, the hills of evil and crime and vile things in this world, which block our vision and becloud our faith and trust as we go walking to the eternal home.

Uneven and devious are the paths before our feet, and ever there is the lure of gold and riches, the beckoning hand of transitory pleasures and delights of sinful men. Rough is the going between us and the comfort of Bethlehem, beset by all manner of stones of stumbling and rocks of oppression, by pricking thorns, and evil voices calling away from the comfort of the Christ-child. Why we are often foolish enough to think we need not the comforting voice of God. The world in its present turmoil of hate and slaughter and evil passions is like a veritable inferno of terrifying pitfalls for the children of God. Our tears, our doubts, our unrest and unbelief, our self-righteousness and evil desires, ah how should we ever be able to find to the manger again?

But see, He does not expect it from us either, this great one born in Bethlehem on Christmas day. Much rather is His voice calling us from over the hills and valleys, and lo, as He calls the miracle ever happens, as it did of old, when His people traveled back to the homeland. Next week and every week our home while we sojourn here is that Bethlehem where He dwelt, and lo, before our feet it shall come to pass: Every valley of despair shall be exalted and leveled into a highway for our feet to travel upon. Every mountain of fear and gruesome doubt shall be broken down and laid low, a highway built by the mighty hand of the Prince of Peace. With strong arm shall He make the uneven level, and the crooked shall be made plain. With the power of His calling us shall He do so, and lo, we shall come to the manger and all its many comforts, to see again the glory of the Lord revealed.

Ah yes, nothing in heaven and earth is high enough to hide that glory and no deepest pit is low enough to exclude its rays of heavenly light. Like a magnet it draws us and no crooked path or rough road shall be able to keep us from it. For oh see, it is the glory of His eternal love, which shines as a fiercely bright light in all the darkness of this world, through all gloom and sadness, through all despair and fear. The small voice of the babe of Bethlehem becomes a mighty message penetrating through all the vicissitudes of life: Fear not, fear not, for you shall always return and find Me and all the comfort of heaven, that it may be your strength in life and death.

Oh comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. We shall most surely find Him, and please God more than ever before shall the glory of the Lord be revealed unto us, for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.


Then, then, as we stand in the light of His glorious love, shall all the uselessness and all the foolish smallness of all other things be revealed to us again, so that our hearts may have peace and comfort all our days. And eternally sure as the Rock of Ages shall His comfort be for us into the eternities.

For all flesh is grass, weak and helpless and but short-lived grass, subject to swift death and decay. The mighty warlord of the battlefields, the arrogant prince of wealth and all the treasures of this world, the proud ruler upon his throne, the violent and fierce criminal on murder bent, the athlete in his prime, the pride of youth and the lordliness of older age – as grass they are, infinitely weak and helpless, futile and defenseless. All their goodliness as the flower of the field. Their wisdom is foolishness, their deep thoughts are idle fancy, their shrewd plans as those of foolish children, their wishes and desires to power and might and dominion as the dreams of little children. They wither and fade and fall by the wayside to crumble into dust and ashes, as the Spirit of the Lord blows upon them. Ah, what are all the deeds, the passions, the thoughts and plans of men when set next to the infinite love of the eternal Father as shining in the manger in Bethlehem? As soon as man and all his doings comes near this brightness, it shrivels and decays, to be seen no more.

Finally, my brethren, finally in all the world, there is nothing left that has any lasting value but this babe of Bethlehem. While all things human have fallen and decayed and are no more throughout the centuries that have passed since the first Christmas day, the Christ is still there in all His glory and love. And He is sure to us and all His comfort is made eternally sure for our souls: For the Word of our God shall stand forever. Indeed we need not even travel those many miles to Bethlehem as did the wise men, as did the shepherds. Nor need we build a shrine or find a resting place for Him so that we might go and find Him there. No changes of time, no destruction of men, no curse of heaven, and no fires of eternity can ever remove for us the shrine of the eternal Son, who is our comfort. For oh see, He is cradled in the Word, the Word of our God. It, it shall stand secure, unaltered, unbroken, untouched either by the vile wisdom of man or the evil doubts of our hearts. It shall stand forever, where all else is grass and shall decay.

Oh comfort ye, comfort ye My people; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem. Oh praise to Thee, O God, Lord of Hosts; Thou hast again spoken comfortably to us in Thy eternal Word. Make us become again as little children in simple faith and lead us again to Thy manger bed, that we may again fully know that Thou hast loved us. Amen.

(continued from p. 3)
summer of 1958.
The figure of 800 in the first sermon is a bit puzzling. Isaiah is believed to have prophesied from about 750-700 B.C.
The common misconception that Christ’s kingdom may be identified with the Church is evident at certain points, especially in the second sermon. We accordingly bring the reminder that Winfred Sr.’s father, John Schaller, had written as follows in his 1918 article on the kingdom of God: “And so we come back to the statement that the term ‘kingdom of God,’ when used in the Bible in its proper sense, occurs exclusively as a designation for the gracious creating, working, and ruling of God through the gospel and in behalf of the gospel.” “One might add that the ‘kingdom of heaven’ in the Bible (a favorite expression of Matthew) is never thought of in the sense of a group of people, clearly therefore not referring to the church.” (The Wauwatosa Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 22, 23)
Where the misconception is evident, one might simply replace the word “kingdom” with the word “realm,” and try always to keep in mind that the word “kingdom” is properly used only when regal activity is involved. RW

The Light of the World…………………………………………..….…p. 4 Jan. 16, 1939
That They May Be One ………………………………..……………..…p. 8
July 30, 1939
Masters of Mammon ………….…………………………..…………..p. 16
Aug. 6, 1939 The last of six times and places of the use of this
sermon, according to notations on the back, is “Redemption,
Seattle 8-14-60.” See p. 3 of the 2008-2 Always Abounding.
Finding and Saving the Lost…………………………………………p. 21
Oct. 15, 1939 Here the last of the notations is:
“Reading Service – Redemption Lutheran 10-14-59”
Comfort in the Christ-child……………………………………p. 25
Dec. 17, 1939 Allusions to World War II, which had
just begun, are readily detectable in this sermon.

In searching for sermons by Winfred Schaller Sr. to mark the 50th anniversary of his death on May 25, 1959 (the same day his son Hilbert had died in 1957), we found that the initial effort at organizing the many manuscripts (cf. 2008-2, p. 3) had resulted in five sermons being placed into a folder marked “1939.” Those five sermons of 70 years ago are now made available for your reading in this issue.
Winfred Sr., one of the sons of Prof. John Schaller, was born in 1892. He served pastorates in Frontenac, Minn. (1914-1920); Firth, Neb. (1920-1921); and South St. Paul, Minn. (1945-1948). He also taught at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw (1921-1945), and then, at the end of his public ministry, at Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du lac, Wis. (1948-1958). Beginning in 1945, he served as synodical secretary for a decade. He withdrew from the Wisconsin Synod in the (concluded on p. 30)

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]

— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –
(continued from p. 3)
believed to have prophesied from about 750-700 B.C.
The common misconception that Christ’s kingdom is to be identified with the Church is evident in the second sermon. We accordingly bring the reminder that Winfred Sr.’s father, John Schaller, had written as follows in his 1918 article on the kingdom of God: “And so we come back to the statement that the term ‘kingdom of God,’ when used in the Bible in its proper sense, occurs exclusively as a designation for the gracious creating, working, and ruling of God through the gospel and in behalf of the gospel.” “One might add that the ‘kingdom of heaven’ in the Bible (a favorite expression of Matthew) is never thought of in the sense of a group of people, clearly therefore not referring to the church.” (The Wauwatosa Theology, Vol. 3, pp. 22 & 23)

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]

— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –

Meditating Day and Night…………………………………….…….…p. 3
A sermon on Jesus’ transfiguration

To the Point! …………………………………………..……………..…p. 7
1. Common Sense of Christ
2. Home, Sweet Home

From the Bookshelves ………….…………………………..… ……..p. 9
1. What the Bible Says About Parenting
2. The Theology of the Cross

Thirteen dead horses: “The messenger galloping home to Venice with the news from Paris rode thirteen horses to death in his haste.” So reports David Boyle on p. 229 of Toward the Setting Sun. What news was so important? King Charles VIII of France had died (in 1498).
It has been well said that the Christian life is not a dash but a marathon. Still, we have the most important news of all, and a sense of urgency about getting the word out is nowhere more appropriate than in a Christian. Sin, death, and damnation have died, executed by Christ.
Mt. 28:7-8: “And go quickly …. And they departed quickly from the tomb … and ran ….”

Without parental knowledge: In an on-line discussion group on education, one parent recently reported that William Ayers spoke at the public high school that his son attends – without any advance notice having been given to parents.

The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; [email protected]

— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –

Luke 9:30-31: “Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”

It is common to consider the Holy Spirit’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration as we move from the season of Epiphany to the season of Lent. On that occasion, when Jesus revealed His divine glory, we are at a point of transition. With the bulk of His public ministry behind Him, our Savior prepares to head for Jerusalem. There is therefore so much to think about as we look back, and ahead. Added to this is the appearance of two very prominent Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah. What memories their names bring back as we recall all that is recorded of them; to what further reflections we are led as we keep in mind the offices of lawgiver and prophet represented by these two men. Indeed, the disciples themselves could not have been more dazzled by the divine glory that shone forth in and through Jesus’ humanity than we are dazzled by everything offered for our meditation by this precious account God has given to us.

Since we must, therefore, be very selective, we will focus on this fact, that Moses and Elijah were not of a mind to discuss all that had transpired during their earthly lives, nor even to discuss the glories of eternal life, but had nothing else to discuss than Jesus’ death. So we consider why we too finally have nothing else to think and talk about than Jesus’ departure.

1. Because we have contributed our full share
to the wreckage filling this world.

The wreckage of which we are speaking is not that of lost civilizations, on which archaeologists expend such vast resources; rather, it is the wreckage described, first of all, in Ex. 32:19: “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.”
Let no one say that this is merely one isolated location, and that a couple of stone tablets are of little or no consequence. For the tablets take us back to God Himself. And as surely as there was wreckage at the foot of Mt. Sinai, so surely wreckage fills the entire world.

The tablets take us back to the perfect and supremely holy God because they were written by Him. “The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets,” Ex. 32:16. Behind them is the One who, by His very nature, must forever drive all evil from His sight. The fire of His holiness can do nothing else. Since the Ten Commandments written on these stone tablets come from the holy God, their content is perfect. “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good,” Rom. 7:12.

It being impossible for God to permit Himself to be displaced, He naturally requires that He be acknowledged, worshiped, and honored as the one true God. This is expressed in the first table of the Law. Furthermore, the amazing gifts that God has poured out upon mankind – the gift of His own representatives, of life, of marriage, of property, of a good name – are protected through the sacred commands of the second table of the Law. And holy desires are the object of exclusive focus in the last two commandments.

Alas, what a tragedy that this supremely holy will of God is wantonly violated and attacked, so that its embodiment on stone lies shattered, broken, a heap of wreckage.

Such is the fate of God’s Law throughout the length and breadth of this world. And we, yes, you and I, have contributed our full share to this worldwide wreckage. “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. … We have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws He gave us through His servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you,” Daniel 9:5,6,10,11. “All have sinned!” If we attempt to excuse ourselves for responsibility for shattering God’s commands along with the Children of Israel, then we are guilty of the great sin of pride.
But our view of the wreckage is not yet complete. “He [Elijah] replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword,’” I Kings 19:10. See also v. 14. More wreckage – the wreckage of the very altars constructed to worship the true God. A smashing of the First Commandment, fountainhead of all the rest. Worship of the Golden Calf on a large scale, as it were. An attack upon God as Savior just as erection of the Golden Calf at Sinai was an attack upon the God who had rescued Israel from Egypt.

Who can ever truly take the measure of the wreckage that comes into view when our thoughts trace out the connections suggested by the appearance on the mount of transfiguration of: 1) Moses; and 2) Elijah.

2. Because in that departure alone, and in nothing else,
there was a new kind of breaking through which
everything was put back together.

What then shall descend upon this world, which has broken God’s commands? We know very well what descended. God Himself descended. He acted in holy vengeance. He picked up instruments of cruel punishment. He wielded them mightily, one after the other. The cruel scourge. The crown of thorns. That horrible instrument of the ultimate in a tortured death – the cross, with regard to which He Himself had declared: “Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree.” He did inflict mankind’s punishment. He did extract the utmost price for mankind’s sin. He did slam shut the door of heaven, and open wide the door of hell. He did drive the evil out of His sight, expelling it into outer darkness.

But none of us can say that we felt this. None of us, ranging over the length and breadth of the world, or over its past and future, can turn up any sinner who experienced this punishment. For it was the holy, innocent Son of God, Jesus, who bore this punishment, fulfilling those wonderful words of Isaiah 53: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”

When Moses came down from his Old Testament mountain, what faces us is broken commandmenets. When Elijah came down from his Old Testament mountain, Carmel, we have facing us broken altars. But when Jesus came down from His mount of transfiguration, there is a very different kind of breaking: His own body is broken as He steps into our place, becoming the victim of God’s wrath in our stead. Yes, since Jesus is God, we may say that the descent from this mount leads us to the breaking of God.

It is this new kind of breaking to which we cling when we take up the words of Paul Gerhardt: “The joy can ne’er be spoken, Above all joys beside, When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.” (LH: 172-7)

What was the outcome of this new kind of breaking? As our sin shattered the tables of stone, so the righteousness of Jesus, brought to completion when He obediently gave Himself into that sacrificial death, put them back together. What we never could have begun, Jesus did: He pieced everything flawlessly back into perfect form. That which was broken is whole again. Once again the commandments are in one piece. Once again they exist, inviolate, exactly as they came forth from the mouth and hand of God. Once again there is not a mark or scratch to be found upon them. By being broken Himself, Jesus completed the course of perfect obedience through which the wreckage disappears and the tables of the Law are presented unbroken to the Father on behalf of the world. It is as impossible to disfigure them as it is impossible to go back and eradicate the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. The devil himself can only rage in impotent fury as the world is blanketed in righteousness.

But let no one think that he has numerous options. Peter declared concerning the risen Christ: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name, under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. It is in Jesus’ departure, and in that alone, that there is a new kind of breaking through which everything was put back together.

God grant, then, that we may always join Moses and Elijah in understanding that the one subject of surpassing importance was, is, and always will be, the death that Jesus accomplished in Jerusalem. Amen.

We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.

COMMON SENSE Timothy Richard spent years among the
OF CHRIST desperate and famine-stricken people of
x China. He tells how he was hampered in his efforts to distribute food and clothing to the masses. The starving crowds were simply unmanageable.
Till one day in his morning Bible reading, Richard came across the verse in which Jesus said: “Make the people sit down.”
In a flash, he saw the solution. Sitting people do not push and shove and trample one another. Ever after, he said, he had the highest opinion of “the common sense of Christ.”
How often doesn’t it happen? Good and gifted people often fail in their purpose because they lack common sense.
Jesus had a good measure of it. He fed 5,000 hungry souls that day. “Make the people sit down.”
The man Jairus and his wife were so startled to see their daughter raised to life that they stood there and did nothing. Only Christ saw the common-sense thing to do. “Give her something to eat,” He said.
He did it again Easter evening. At the sight of the risen Christ, the frightened disciples did not believe their eyes. They thought their nerves were playing tricks on them, till Jesus told them something that made good sense: “Handle Me and see!” He was not at all afraid of the experiment. He challenged them to make the test: “Handle Me and see!” Prove it for yourself, once and for all. Do the common sense thing to answer your doubts and questions.
He allows Himself to be handled critically, roughly, and even cruelly. They found out He was no fantasy, no ghost or apparition. He knows that we are children of our times, prejudiced and skeptical. “Handle me and see!”
Begin right where you are and with what you have. Lay hold of any word or promise of His. Dare to test Him out. “Handle Me and see!” You will find that His offer makes the best common sense in the world.

HOME, SWEET HOME The U. S. Congress has passed the
Defense of Marriage Act. The bill was sponsored in the House by Bob Barr (three marriages), endorsed by then Senator Dole (two marriages), and signed by the president (he of the colorful personal life).
Which led one person to remark, “If marriage needs Congress to defend it, then we know we are in serious trouble.”
Part of the problem is the pro-family group itself. These folks paint a hopelessly unrealistic picture of family life. Their argument usually is: In the stress and strain of modern life, the family is a haven of peace, and pleasantry, and unity.
G.K. Chesterton says that the honest defense of the home would be: Family life is not peaceful, not pleasant, and not unified. It takes a heap of divine grace and hard work, and a shared faith and vision to hold a family together and make it worth the effort.
It is difficult for any man, who has lived largely by himself and for himself, to commit himself to the well-being of another person. There is a grinding of gears to change a vocabulary of “I” and “me” and “mine” to a mindset of “you” and “yours” and “ours.”
It’s hard for a woman, the center of attention herself, to give full attention to an infant; from perfumed lover to smelling like a baby.
Any child with a will of its own rebels against each command with the cry, “I don’t want to.” Outside with others, the same child will say, “Now I will be the mother, and you must do what I say.” To which the others will respond, “I don’t want to.”
In realistic fashion Scripture describes the home life of Jacob, and Samuel, and the prodigal son.
Like any extended family, the Christian Church is made up of every imaginable personality type, age, race, and social status. And yet, in Christ what holds us together is always stronger than what pulls us apart. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
There is always hope, where Christ is forever making new personalities out of old, and forging new possibilities out of worn-out relationships.

THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY John MacArthur’s book, What the Bible z Says About Parenting – God’s Plan for Rearing Your Child (Thomas Nelson, 2000) was procured because of a request to include comments on it in Grace Congregation’s Bible Class discussion of the Christian family. A pair of minor quibbles can be disposed of right away: 1) “Parent” still doesn’t seem to me to be a legitimate verb. 2) Nor can we dispel some lingering reservations about the author’s frequent references to children as “kids.”

Worthy of note is this pair of statements on p. xi: “Politicians seem more and more intent on usurping the parental role. And parents seem more and more willing to abdicate that role to others.” Members of Grace will recall how some stressed one of these evils, and others the other, in a previous Bible Class discussion of education. (Here we can also include the fine statement on p. 19: “Parents must involve themselves in their children’s lives enough to insure that no other influence takes precedence.”) Another of many excellent statements is this on p. 7: “It appears that the village Mrs. Clinton envisions is a morass of federally-funded programs designed to indoctrinate children with whatever values the state deems acceptable. And if anything has been made clear over the past half century, it is that biblical values are certainly not deemed acceptable in any government-sponsored program in America, so Mrs. Clinton’s village would no doubt indoctrinate children with secular humanism instead.”

But that passage also contains a phrase that puts one on the alert: “biblical values.” What does this mean? One’s apprehensions are not lessened by this on p. 9: “All taboos are systematically being abolished and replaced with one new taboo: Absolute moral standards, instituted by God and revealed in the Bible, should govern all human behavior.” You can see the problem; you are used to seeing it everywhere. Natural law is obliterated. Moral standards are assumed to be connected exclusively with Scripture. A concept that should be attached to Gospel truths, “revealed,” is used to refer to something that, though it is reaffirmed in Scripture, is originally written on the heart (natural law). Most alarmingly, the stage is thus set to treat the Bible as nothing more than a book of Law, thus robbing us of our salvation. May we never cease being horrified beyond measure at such satanic error. No, we are not saying that this book has no Gospel. We are showing the error implicit in this particular way of stating things. Note also the sentence on top of this same page: “Therefore the future of the family in our society hinges on the success of those who are committed to the truth of Scripture.” Is this not going too far? Does it not imply denial of the “natural affection” of which the Bible itself speaks (Rom. 1:31; II Tim. 3:3)? Leaving the strictly spiritual aside, are there not wonderful marriages and is there not a great deal of wholesome family life also among those who are not Christians?

A striking statement early in the second chapter (p. 28) is this: “Scripture never portrays parenting as an obstacle course beset with potentially deadly pitfalls.” But the transition is then made to the “one gigantic pitfall that is too often overlooked by Christian parents.” That is “the child’s inborn inclination toward evil.” And indeed, this chapter deserves high marks for its presentation of original sin and its consequences, and for denouncing the foolishness of the philosophy of self-esteem. One applauds this on p. 32: “The truth is that such people are not a product of something their parents did to them. They are products of what their parents did not do to them.” But we are not surprised to find that regeneration is not treated as well.

That brings us to the crucial third chapter, “Good News for Your Kids,” which opens: “The one practical question I am most commonly asked by parents is this: How should I present the gospel to my children?” And we in turn have learned from experience to ask: Will the Gospel now actually be presented and set forth, or will it be conspicuous by its absence though the word itself is used repeatedly? The answer to whether it is presented is a qualified yes. The Gospel is proclaimed – this we are very happy to say. For numerous passages are quoted that set forth the perfect finished saving work of Jesus Christ. But in the author’s own statements, do we find ringing affirmation of objective justification? No. “His righteousness is imputed to those who trust Him. … Thus He freely justifies all who trust in Him.” (p. 59) Is the sharp distinction between Law and Gospel upheld? No. “Real saving faith cannot be ignorant of essential gospel concepts such as good and evil, sin and punishment, repentance and faith, God’s holiness and His wrath against sin ….” (p. 49) One has difficulty putting a good construction on this on p. 52: “No single formula can possibly meet the needs of every unregenerate person anyway.” Will not this do: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk. 1:15) This is an example of how faith seems to be intellectualized. The wonder of Christ’s immeasurable love in being willing to suffer so terribly for us sinners does not come through clearly.

To these weaknesses in presenting what Christ has done (Second Article) must be added what is probably an even greater failure when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit (Third Article). Very simply, the concept of the Means of Grace is scarcely to be discerned. The true glory of the Word and Sacraments as the divinely chosen tools that create faith, kill the old man, bring the new birth, snatch us from death and damnation, unite us to Christ, enable us to call out to our Heavenly Father with limitless confidence, overcome the devil, bring peace to the heart, bestow absolute certainty of salvation, and preserve us unto heaven – none of this is distinctly and forcefully set forth. “Baptism” is not to be found in the index. (Neither is “Gospel,” although “Law” is.) Not unexpectedly, the intimate connection we always want to see made between all good works and what we have received from Christ (“We love because He first loved us”) is not clearly made. At about the half-way point in reading the book, it was our impression that the abundant use of Scripture throughout the book, and even the occasional eloquent passage on the use of the Word (e.g., pp. 124-25), are not properly set in the framework of an overall outlook in which the Gospel always remains the overriding consideration.

The usual deficiencies of Reformed theology are thus indeed on display in this book. Rather than expand further on such matters, however, we will focus on what can be commended in the remaining five chapters of the book.

The fourth chapter is the longest of the eight chapters. Quotations from Proverbs abound here. There is much to vigorously applaud. “From the very earliest age, teach your children that sin is a capital offense against a holy God.” (p. 80) “Drugs have thus replaced discipline for millions of parents.” (p. 87) “Teach your children to select their companions wisely.” (p. 88) In the fifth chapter, dealing with obedience, we find this: “Your kids will be good at disobedience; you won’t have to teach them that. No one ever had to explain to a child how to disobey. No parents have ever said to a toddler, ‘Let’s do a little role playing so I can show you how to disobey.’ They have disobedience down very well; it comes naturally to them. They are experts in it from the very beginning. But obedience is something they must learn.” (p. 114)

Ch. 6, which has much on provoking to anger, is outstanding. “But let’s remember that parents are depraved, too.” (p. 131) The discussion in ch. 7 of the father’s role is similarly outstanding. These chapters might well warrant purchase of the book. (They also lead to some second thoughts about criticisms expressed in earlier paragraphs of this review.) And the high quality of material is sustained in the concluding chapter on the mother’s role, though the scope of I Cor. 11:8-9 (wrongly referred to as 14:8-9) seems unduly limited by the author on p. 196: “The Apostle Paul, calling for women to display submissive attitudes in public worship [our emphasis] wrote: ‘For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.’” The same thing is evident on p. 220, in the appendix giving answers to some key questions about the family, where, after I Cor. 11:3 is quoted, a subsequent sentences narrows the scope from man and woman to husband and wife.

Especially striking passages from the last part of the book are these: “I like to sum up the sacrificial nature of the husband’s love with these three words: Consideration. … Often it boils down to listening. The husband must understand his wife’s heart. … Chivalry. … Communion.” (pp. 168-69) “When a physical body does not respond correctly to its own head, the result is either an incapacitating paralysis or uncontrolled seizures. Either way, it is debilitating to the body.” (p. 197) “Nothing makes the truth more distasteful to a child than to have a hypocritical or spiritually shallow parent who affirms the truth publicly but denies it in the home.” (p. 233)

Although there is much more that invites comment, we will confine ourselves to the mention of two more points. On p. 13, “a man from the Lord” is accepted as the correct translation in Gen. 4:1, instead of “a man, the Lord.” On p. 20, MacArthur denounces the contents of Judith Rich Harris’s book, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do.” This is the very book treated in John Parcher’s column on p. 16 of the 2008-6 issue of Always Abounding.

Worthy of note: The index of Henry Meeter’s book, The Basic Ideas of Calvinism (fifth edition, revised; 1975 Baker Book House reprint), has an entry on the Law of God as well as major entries on government and state, but no entry for either Gospel or salvation. Furthermore, the entry for war is significantly longer than the entry for Christ.
For an outstanding delineation of the fundamental theological weaknesses in what passes for a magnificent religious book today, go to the SoundWitness website and locate the lengthy article reviewing Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. http://www.soundwitness.org/evangel/purpose_driven_life.htm
(Speaking of Rick Warren: For an explanation of how his inauguration prayer made nods to Judaism and especially to Islam, see Aaron Wolf’s article on p. 8 of the March 2009 issue of Chronicles Magazine.)
Our readers might also want to be aware of the recently formed Hausvater Project and to make use of what appears on its website, Hausvater.org.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS The first thing that comes to Reflections on His Cross and Ours mind in embarking on some zzzzz comments on this book by Daniel Deutschlander (NPH, 2008) is something that Egbert Schaller said in the introduction to a sermon he preached on Mt. 10:24-27: “After studying [the text] prayerfully for days, I have decided that it is going to be difficult to preach this sermon. It will either be too short or much too long.” (Selected Sermons of E. Schaller, first volume; p. 126 in the second edition; p. 130 in the third edition)

Another thing that comes to mind is the opportunity we had of auditing a presentation that the author, a professor of German, history, and religion at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., who ended up losing his position there because of cutbacks caused by budget constraints, made during a return visit to the college. In no uncertain terms, he explained that worship is not entertainment, adding, to our considerable surprise at his freedom from inhibitions, considering the circumstances, that that pernicious misconception had made inroads also into the Wisconsin Synod (his own fellowship and that of his audience). The book under review here repeatedly takes aim at that view, and something else that he said when speaking of dealing with the spiritual problems of the young appears exactly as we remember it on p. 173 of this book. “Just something as simple as this may make the guilty aware of the gospel in a way that they never were before: ‘Just think, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, and all around him said, ‘Come down!” he refused. And why? Because he thought of you at this very moment in your life. Thinking of you, he refused to come down. He insisted that he would stay and bear all the guilt that is yours and its eternal punishment. That’s how much he loved you! He didn’t suffer hell and die for a nameless, faceless blob of humanity. He suffered hell and died thinking of you!’”

Still another thing that comes to mind was learning during our years of seminary study that it had been said of C.F.W. Walther’s book on Law and Gospel that it was so good that pastors ought to read it once a year. We have long wondered whether even the greatest of books – and Walther’s is certainly one of them – should be viewed in quite that way, since one should be able to absorb the essence of its content without that many rereadings and since one by such a practice greatly limits the amount of time available for reading other excellent things. But the point here is that Deutschlander’s book is well-deserving of similar praise as a superlative book, with one difference: It was not written specifically for those studying for the ministry. Leaving aside basic devotional and doctrinal material – whether hymnal, catechism, Plass’s What Luther Says, etc. – as well as the six volumes (so far) of Egbert Schaller’s sermons plus Bible-study aids and a book or two on Luther, I think that if I were to restrict myself to just a dozen books that I would urge laymen, one and all, to read, this book might well be on that list.

The diet of scriptural theology is wonderfully rich and edifying. The material is practical and relevant throughout, with no aura of the study or the ivory tower about it. The voice of authentic Christian experience is heard throughout; the throbbing of a heart filled with a love for souls is felt on every page. And the writing is of the very highest quality, characterized both by irresistible forward movement and by innumerable memorable verbal zingers. Those whose profession calls for much work with books may have occasion to read in or become somewhat acquainted with dozens upon dozens of books without reading any of them cover to cover. Except at this point for two appendices, this is a book I’ve read cover to cover. You will have no trouble doing the same if you but pick it up. And you will probably soon be thinking of others to whom you want to give the book.
“So we come again to the question,” Deutschlander writes in the preface, “Could the theology of the cross be the litmus test of genuine Christianity in our day? The corrupt and the counterfeit push aside the whole concept of cross bearing in favor of a joy without it. Fake Christianity offers the Christian an imitation of Christ’s glory in heaven, not of his humiliation on earth. The phony and the artificial church turns worship into a spiritual happy hour devoid of repentance, with cheap absolution, with no thought of taking God seriously in either the law or the gospel. And people love it. They still get to be their own god, their own bible, their own source of ultimate truth and salvation. In the pages that follow, we will search the mind of God, as he has revealed it in his holy and inerrant Word, for his definition of Christian faith and life under the cross, under his cross and ours. We will wrestle with the seeming contradiction of the necessity of cross bearing and rejoicing at the same time. We will strive to bend our minds and hearts and souls beneath his cross and our own. Then we will rise under the healing balm of the gospel in his Word and sacraments to rejoice evermore in his cross and ours, until he takes us from the imitation of his cross to the enjoyment of his glory in heaven.”

The preliminary work for this review consisted in typing out about a dozen especially good brief quotations from the book. Except for what fits here, that has been deleted. It will be much better for each of you to make your own list.

“So cleverly have these vices been inserted into the soul that the called worker has not even noticed them. He has become a robed worldling. He is comfortable with the world and does not want the bother of opposing the devil and the world in himself, much less in anyone else. The sliver on the cross may even be the noble-sounding goal of winning souls for Christ but only with part of God’s Word, a Word stripped of anything that might offend the flesh and therefore keep the church from growing fast enough.” (p. 79) “Forgiveness is used as a license to sin and a wonderful and so sanctified-sounding way of escaping the cross! Should the conscience occasionally be troubled during the sermon, Rev. Sloth mounts the devil’s pulpit and soothes away the trouble: ‘Don’t be concerned about the sins the sermon rebukes; before he is done, he will tell you again that all is forgiven! Good thing too! After all, the cross hurts, it’s hard to carry it, and the sins are dear.’” (p. 83)

Sept. 11, 1949, pp. 295-96 In the first of two doctrinal essays zzzz Excerpts presented to the assembly, Pastor zzzz Geo. Lillegard of Boston found his topic in an expression much favored by certain unionists within the visible church, who have found cover for their activities by defining their joint working with errorists as “Cooperation in Externals.” Pastor Lillegard reviewed this practice exhaustively and frankly by enlarging upon the following four declarations:
“1. Unionism is joint worship, or joint church work, with those who do not confess the true faith in all respects.
“2. If orthodox Lutherans cooperate, or associate, with heterodox Lutherans in any phase of the Church’s work, such as Education, Missions, Charities, etc., they disregard the fact that joint church work with false teachers is unionism just as much as is joint worship.
“3. The test of so-called externals in church work is whether they may properly be carried on with all manner of churches and religious or civic organizations.
“4. Since the National Lutheran Council, as well as the Lutheran World Federation, was organized to promote cooperation in church work between all Lutherans, without regard to doctrinal differences, we object to them as unionistic organizations and refuse to take any part in their activities.”

As quoted in the Convention Sentinel, he [Pastor S.E. Lee, convention chaplain] said: “Even as we possess the precious Gospel., we should fight to defend and preserve it. … The devil seeks hard to lead away from the Truth by mutilating the Gospel. … The most dangerous opposition of the Christian is not the out-and-out unbeliever, but the compromisers and weaklings within the church itself. … When we become tolerant of any error of doctrine, we shake the very foundations of our faith. … Those who criticize rigid fundamentalism do not see the church as soul-saving, but as something else. … The early Christian Church was interested in preaching and preserving the Gospel, so we look hard to find public-relations men and ‘social-gospelers’ there. … Churches that seek outward glory deny the Gospel.”

How precious the pure Gospel truly is, how infinitely blest are they that possess and retain it in believing hearts, could hardly have been more beautifully set forth than was done in the portrayal of “The Royal Priesthood of Believers.” This essay, read by Pastor S. Dorr of Tracy, Minn., deserves a lengthy review for which our space is not adequate. In the light of the unconditioned Gospel, the believers stood exalted as priestly Kings and kingly Priests before God, utterly independent under God in spiritual things, needing no human regency, no human advocate or mediator, subject to no human domination in matters of faith, fearing no wrath of men and no power that would interpose itself between them and the love of God in Christ.

Sept. 25, 1949, p. 307 The Associated Press on Aug. 15th zzz An Editorial carried an unusual story from zzzzzzzz California on its wires. It reported that a former Catholic priest and his bride were honeymooning in that state, after having been married at Buckeye, Ariz., before Superior Judge Charles Bernstein, a member of the Jewish faith.
The report is unusual chiefly on two counts, though the action of the ex-priest is itself not one of them. For while we do not know whether or not he broke the vow of celibacy as a testimony against the Roman Catholic commandment forbidding marriage to the clergy – a commandment which the apostle in I Tim. 4:3 lists as a “doctrine of devils” – his withdrawal from the priesthood is not as rare an occurrence as it may appear to those for whom the press and radio provide the only source of information on such matters.
The present news item is exceptional chiefly because it has received such unusual publicity. The powers of the Roman Church are notoriously impatient with any members of the public press who venture to disseminate and print an account of any occurrence which tends to indicate disharmony within their ranks or dulls the polish and glitter of Rome’s outward glory. More than once, in the past, news services have incurred in painful manner the wrath of the Roman hierarchy because of news releases uncomplimentary to Catholicism. The persuasive powers of censorship which Romanism usually succeeds in wielding over the public press, powers out of all proportion to its numerical strength in our country, evidently were not effective in preventing the publication of this bit of news concerning the former priest Emmett McLaughlin and his marriage. SPELLING
Another unusual feature of the press release is its frank statement that the wedding took place “before 700 guests and a guard of pistol-toting sheriff’s deputies.” The presence of this latter somewhat startling aggregation of armed wedding attendants can hardly be accounted for as an observance of a good old American custom. The Associated Press blandly quotes Deputy Sheriff Woody Killman’s explanation that the guard was present by request of the bridegroom, “to prevent any trouble.”
We are left to draw our own conclusions. It may be that charivari parties in Arizona tend to be somewhat deadly, especially when they wish to salute a disaffected priest upon his nuptials.

Oct. 9, 1949, p. 323 It was, we suppose, bound to happen ziz An Editorial sooner or later. Since the Roman Papacy z demands recognition as the head of the Christian Church, and since this claim rests in large part upon the unproven story that the Apostle Peter was the first bishop of Rome, it must for many years have been a source of vexation to the Papal See that even the very presence of Peter in Rome is an historical assumption unsupported by evidence.
Anyone who does not know by now that this lack is about to be filled has neglected his newspaper and his radio. To be sure, the whole thing is still a big secret, because it won’t be made official until Pius XII opens the Holy Year on Christmas Eve next. But secrets have a way of escaping into full pages of Sunday newsprint, complete with pictures and diagrams from Rome. It appears that St. Peter has been there all the time. They found his grave, it is said, less than 20 feet under the pavement of the pope’s basilica. At this very moment, in fact, the bones of the great apostle are said to be reposing in a receptacle in the private chapel of the Vatican.
Rome is an ancient city, and its underground vaults, chambers, and burial catacombs have long been famous. It is not surprising that human remains have been found under the huge Church of St. Peter. If the body of the apostle was among them and if, as we are told, tradition has always said that he was buried there, it is rather hard to understand why it has taken a thousand years to find them. And why bother now?
Roman Cardinal Perroul said in 1864: “The coming of St. Peter to Rome and the seat there established by him is connected with an article of our Faith. … Hence it follows that he cannot be a Catholic who does not believe in the coming to, and the episcopate and death of St. Peter in Rome.”
On the other hand, many prominent Catholics, including Chas. Du Moulin the Attorney (1566), the Jesuit Father Hardouin (1729), De Cormeniu, who wrote a history of the popes, Frances Turretin, and others publicly stated what the Catholic Professor Ellendorf of Berlin sums up briefly in a statement in Bibliotheca Sacra of January 1859: “Peter’s abode in Rome can never be proved.”
So now, we understand, an attempt will be made to prove it. We await developments with serene minds. We doubt that the evidence can or will be conclusive; in any case, it can only suggest that perhaps Peter died in Rome, or was brought there after his death. That he died, we know. And we know also that, wherever Peter may have lived or died, he had nothing whatever to do with the Papacy, which is the Antichrist. Bones of men may come and go; but the WORD they still shall let remain, the Word of God, of which St. Peter wrote that it liveth and abideth forever.

Oct. 23, 1949, pp. 342-43 The death of Justice Wiley Rutledge zzFrom a Wider Field of the United States Supreme Court, z following as it did so closely upon the passing of his colleague, Justice Frank Murphy, serves as a sharp reminder of the fact that the complexion of our highest court can change very suddenly. Past decisions of the court, therefore, especially those in which the prevailing opinion was concurred in by a bare majority of the justices, may not remain in force if new cases are appealed and judged by a court whose membership has meanwhile change d through vacancy and new appointment.
This variable quality of Supreme Court decisions must be of particular concern to us in its effect upon the constitutional safeguards which protect religious liberties in our country. Not infrequently the Supreme Court has been called upon to interpret laws in the light of the First and Fourteenth Amendment to our Federal Constitution. In the past, threatened infringements of the rights of individuals and minorities as guaranteed by these amendments have been warded off by the Supreme Court well balanced in favor of an enlightened regard for the inviolability of conscience and for the proper separation of Church and State. The Champaign School Case of 1947 is a recent example. This correct and favorable trend of opinion has been a blessing of God to the Church of the pure Gospel. Let us pray that He may preserve it through the appointment to our highest tribunal of men filled with the wisdom and moved by the ideals of their predecessors.

They understand not what they say.
The Apostle Paul describes certain of his day as “desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.” I Tim. 1:7. The world has an unfortunate habit of offering us teachers of that kind in matters of religion and morals. Two recent examples may be cited.
There is, first, a newspaper headline of Sept. 1st which proclaims in bold type: “Mayo Doctor Claims Comic Books Are O.K.” We have a great deal of respect for the Mayo Clinic and its accomplishments in the field of medicine. But when one of its psychiatrists is quoted as saying that comic books “fill a definite need in our society because they allow children to siphon off many of the hostile, aggressive feelings they are not permitted to express,” we feel very much like a Mayo surgeon would feel if he saw one of our editors about to operate on a patient’s gall bladder with a paring knife.
Although there are a few comic books available which may be regarded as spiritually harmless, the greater share of such publications are poisonous literature for a child. Evidently some psychiatrists know less about the soul of a child than we do about building an Indian wigwam. Unfortunately, the public is inclined to accept opinions, qualified or not, when they come from men of prominence.
As a second example we have a pronouncement on the subject of religion from Gen. James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, as published in the Sunday Magazine This Week of Sept. 11, 1949. The general earned his military rank; as one of our outstanding war heroes, he deserves the respect and affection accorded him by millions of Americans. But here he speaks to America on religion and says: “Religion was once taught in our schools but was removed from the curriculum because of differences of opinion among religious sects. The time has now come for all religious beliefs to band together against atheism. The advancement of religion and religious tolerance is far more important than the promotion of any specific religious faith or group.”
Presumably this is intended as an admonition also to Christians; but what the general advocates is not Christianity, not biblical religion. Indeed, he does not claim to represent Christianity. For he declares his creed in these words: “Religion, to me, means recognizing the existence of God, and the conduct of life in accordance with His precepts.” This creed has completely eliminated from “religion” the Redeemer Jesus Christ; in such a creed there is no need of a Savior from sin. It voices, at least in part, a conviction shared also by the devil, who certainly “recognizes the existence of God.” See James 2:19.
Our differences with such religion are not differences of opinion, but of faith and of doctrine, than which there is nothing more important or unyielding.
Against atheism, the weapon of adulterous union of truth and error, of God’s children with heathen, which the general proposes, would be about as effective as a sword forged of cracked ice and crushed tulip bulbs.
Jesus said: “If ye continue in MY WORD …, ye shall know the Truth.” This is more authoritative than a contrary pronouncement by an expert on military aviation, no matter how fondly he may otherwise be regarded.

A busy year for Rome
According to a Reuters dispatch, the Vatican is issuing an appeal to Italians to tend the graves of all soldiers of all nationalities who fell in Italy, so that relatives who come to that country for the “Holy Year” will feel that “their loved ones rest with friends.” Rome is putting forth its best manners and decking itself in welcoming robes for the expected thousands from all over the world who will make the pilgrimage to the Holy City during the Year of Jubilee which opens on next Christmas Eve. Ships and railroads are reducing rates, and a new airdrome is being built to handle the heavy plane traffic.
Why the throng? The Associated Press explains: “Roman Catholics in a state of grace – that is, those who have confessed and obtained pardon for their sins and received communion – will earn plenary indulgences if they visit these four churches (in Rome) during the year. Catholics believe such indulgences erase punishment for past sins which otherwise would be served in purgatory after death.”

Nov. 6, 1949, pp. 355-56 Those who have suffered from the zzz An Editorial crippling pain of arthritis will be zzzzz quick to appreciate the force of the apostle’s reference and its application. According to a recent medical journal article, the complexity of arrangements in the joints of the body and the delicacy of their “contained tissues” make them especially susceptible to certain disease processes. It appears that arthritis involves the lining of the joint cavities, called the synovial membrane, which secretes a fluid for lubricating the action of the joint.
A most vivid picture is drawn by the Apostle Paul of a body in which each joint is well lubricated. He calls it “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
A glance at the context of this passage will show that the apostle is not offering instruction in human physiology. The head of the body thus described is Christ; and the body is His Church. The individual members are its joints; and the church in its glorious growth, its forward movement, its smooth functioning, displays “the effectual working in the measure of every part.”
Thus in a sense the individual joint is more important than the body as a whole. The actual size of the body, moreover, is not so vital to its health as the condition of its joints.
Among those who are concerned with the well-being of the Church we find two policies in operation. Some profess to believe that we must strengthen the Church against the stresses and strains of these critical days by giving it an imposing outward appearance of size and solidarity. They propose to do some uniting. Assuming members of heterodox church bodies to be Christians even though they confess and may actually hold to error or are not properly instructed in the Truth, the proposal is to recognize them publicly as brethren, especially if they bear the name Lutheran, and ask them to work together with us or offer to work with them in advancing the Kingdom of Christ against the forces of darkness.
Aside from the fact that this method is in conflict with God’s command, Rom. 16:17-18, there is a fatal weakness in it. We call to witness every arthritis victim. It takes a healthy set of joints to make the body perform feats of strength. Arthritics don’t do mountain climbing or engage in obstacle races.
A Christian infected by error is a diseased and painful joint in the body of Christ. Thousands of them do not make the Church stronger or more efficient, but weaker. Because of them, severe strain is put upon the healthy joints. Indeed, the “effectual working” of the Church today as at all times is hindered only by the fact that many of its members are not supplying their measure of the body’s strength, because they are oppressed and afflicted by error or by the Old Adam of sinful weakness. They suffer from spiritual arthritis; and this malady is not corrected by issuing an official directive saying: We shall work together; we shall have conferences and plan “cooperative action.”
The other, the God-given plan for activating the Church, is to promote the health of its joints. There is nothing spectacular in this process, and it requires no public relations department or formula of federation to make it work. We begin at home (there is a striking similarity, incidentally, between “synovial membrane” and “synodical membrane”) by intensifying our program of indoctrination. The joints are oiled by faith, and faith cometh by hearing of the Word of God. We shall strive to use every agency and opportunity for deepening the doctrinal understanding and conviction of the Christians within our fellowship, and seek to testify to the Truth against every error and every evil work both within and without our confessional circle with firmness, kindness, and clarity, calling for constant repentance and correction in ourselves and others.
With firm conviction we regard the edification of the body of Christ in love as the task of ridding Christ’s Church of every vestige of spiritual arthritis and establishing the faith-health of its joints. For we know that only so shall the Church give expression to its glory and achieve that prospect held out to us by the apostolic words:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into UNTO/ him in all things which is the head, even Christ.” Eph. 4:13-15.

Nov. 6, 1949, pp. 358-59 In a statement issued on Sept. 20th zizFrom a Wider Field last, the Federal Council of Churches z of Christ in America placed itself on record in the vexing problem of federal aid to schools.
At present, efforts to provide such aid to public schools lie bottled up in the files of the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives. The committee has failed to report either the so-called Taft Bill or the Barden Bill to the House for action because of the bitter disagreement on whether or not parochial or church schools should benefit from grants of federal money.
Certain interests are demanding that parochial schools share in all monies voted by the government for education. Others insist that private schools be excluded from direct support, but that the children attending these schools receive their share of such “welfare services” as Congress may see fit to provide.

Suggestion of Federal Council of Churches
In this connection the Federal Council of Churches offers a suggestion in the following portion of its report, as quoted in the Christian Century:
“We believe that the sound and practicable way out of the legislative stalemate would be to treat aid to schools and the supplying of welfare services to children as separate projects. Each should be decided on its own merits. In accordance with previous statements of the council, we urge that prompt provision be made for federal aid for the maintenance of public schools, with assurance that in its administration there be no discrimination on account of race. We further urge that, as a separate matter unconnected with grants for schools, open-minded consideration be given by Congress to the need of all children of school age for certain welfare services. We believe that if federal aid is made available for such services, they should be administered or supervised by a public agency. By thus drawing a clear distinction between aid to schools and welfare services to children, we believe that necessary assistance can be given to education without making it the object of sectarian controversy or compromising the principle of separation of church and state, for which the council has always stood.”
It is not likely that the suggestion of the Council will be received with much favor. Those who are determined to support their church schools by dipping into public funds will not be content with a plan that stops them so far short of their goal, while many who are as firm as the Federal Council in refusing to compromise the principle of separation of church and state will look doubtfully upon the Council’s plan, which bears in itself the mark of compromise.
The Council recommends “drawing a clear distinction between aid to schools and welfare services to children.” But any such distinction will remain a subject of debate. Actually, this proposal is a begging of the question. The proponents of all-out federal aid to private schools will contend that all school services are welfare service, and it would be difficult to refute their argument. While the sword-cleaving solution of the Council faintly resembles the wisdom of Solomon, it lacks the persuasive logic which could satisfy both sides in this controversy.
We must be wary of a scheme by which, in the end, sectarian religious interests can be supported with federal grants issued under the label: For welfare services only. Apparently the Federal Council itself includes as a “welfare service” that of free transportation. What assurance may we have that free heat and light, so needful for the physical well-being of the pupils, will not eventually be classified as aid to children? As a matter of fact, in New Mexico, where a court decision has prohibited the granting of textbooks to parochial schools at public expense, the attorney general has ruled that such books may be granted to the individual pupils, and some thousand parochial school children are reported to be receiving books under this ruling.
Removing the discussion of welfare services from the controversial field of the church-state debate, where it properly belongs, may very well brighten the prospects of those who would be willing to accept support for private schools under any name and would welcome the opportunity of doing so with a show of right.

Czechoslovakia and religious liberty
Out of the surging internal struggles of Czechoslovakia comes the report that the Communist authorities are removing from their parishes those Roman Catholic priests who, upon examination, prove to be disloyal to the government.
If rigorously carried out, this policy will undoubtedly result in great upheavals and civil strife in that unhappy country.
While we are fully aware of the anti-religious spirit of Communism, it should be pointed out that the removal of priests disloyal to the government is an action not entirely without the appearance, at least, of justice. For the fact is that in Czechoslovakia, as in other European countries, the church is financially supported by the state. In other words, the priests are paid out of the public treasury. They are, therefore, by their own consent servants of the government. It can hardly be objectionable, in itself, if the government refuses to pay the salaries of men whom it finds disloyal.
Because there is no separation of church and state in Czechoslovakia, the priests are in great difficulty. By order of the pope, they must be enemies of Communism; yet they cannot resist Communism without being removed from office by the government which hires and supports them.
We submit this as another forceful argument urging the continued, absolute separation of church and state in our land. Eventually, persecution and banishment may be visited also upon us by some vicious, ungodly government of the future, and we shall suffer for the name of Christ; but at least, in seeking to give to Caesar and to God their full due, we shall be able to distinguish between what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. Koelpin

Nov. 20, 1949, pp. 374-75 Of late there has been quite a bit of zii From a Wider Field comment in the religious press zzzzzzz published throughout the country dealing with the doings of some churches as they industriously try to raise money by doubtful methods.
It is a pleasant and, we believe, a profitable task to offer our readers the sane opinions and judgments of others on this subject. With that purpose in mind, we devote this column to quotations from sources outside our own church circles.
There is, for example, the editorial in the Baptist weekly, the Watchman-Examiner, concerning such church financing in a foreign country. As quoted by the Concordia Theological Monthly, the editorial reads:
“They have a way of dealing with the lottery evil in New Zealand which is commendable. That a reputed ‘church’ should sponsor and promote such a scheme as wholesale gambling is a libel on Christianity anywhere.
“In Hamilton, New Zealand, a man and his daughter were fined a total of 55 pounds ($230.00) by a court which described the selling of tickets on an automobile raffle organized for a Roman Catholic charity as ‘a by no means trivial offense.’ The magistrate declared, ‘Lotteries of this kind are an encouragement to people to spend beyond their means.’ He stated that the fact that the proceeds of the raffle were for church purposes was ‘no mitigation of the offence,’ and that to refrain from entering a conviction would ‘amount to favoring sections of the community.’ Lotteries, raffles, bingo, and all such schemes for the raising of money by churches means that they are encouraging people to break the Tenth Commandment.”

An echo of this frank opinion comes from Lincoln, Nebr., where the attorney general is enforcing anti-gambling laws strictly, even upon certain churches which seem to feel that they should not be subject to such moral restrictions. The Nebraska Council of Churches rallied behind the attorney general with this sober pronouncement: “It is a uniform conviction of our churches that gambling is immoral, and that law observance is a moral obligation, and we commend and support Attorney General Anderson in his program of enforcement of anti-gambling laws.”

And last, but not least, we take a leaf from the Lutheran Standard of October 22nd. Concerning a related matter, the question-box editor of the Standard has penned a reply to the query of a reader who asks whether bazaars and similar devices for the purpose of raising money for churches are in keeping with the spirit of Christian stewardship. The answer, which we regard as in excellent taste and form, is as follows:
“True Christian stewardship requires that a person acknowledge God as the owner of all things. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ We are the Lord’s tenants and stewards, and we must give an account to Him as to how we acquire a portion of His property, and what we do with it. He expects us regularly to pay our ‘rent’ to Him in gratitude and love. He does not need this rent money, but it is needful that we pay it regularly lest we forget Him, the owner, and lest we become avaricious and self-centered. Whatever we do in His name for some unfortunate person or some other good cause He accepts as having been done to Him. He also grants us the honor and the privilege of being His co-laborers in the upbuilding of His kingdom. By the generous giving of time, talent, and treasure for church and benevolence we are to prove ourselves His faithful stewards.
“Now, does the giving of jitney suppers, bazaars, etc., for the purpose of making money promote the spirit of Christian stewardship? I am convinced that it does not. We can and we should give time and toil in the work of the church. We may acceptably give products of the farm, garden, orchard, etc., as well as cash. Proper social gatherings are helpful. It is well occasionally to break bread together. These gatherings usually incur some expense, but it is better to have a freewill offering than to set a price per plate.
“The main objection to suppers, bazaars, etc., for the purpose of making money for the church is this: We are thus trying to bait the outsider to pay at least a part of our financial obligations to the Lord’s work. This is detrimental to good Christian stewardship.”
The editor might have added that it is a corrupted form of Christian giving in which the giver needs to be coaxed by holding out to him a reward for his contribution in the shape of a plate of food or, if he wins at Bingo, a larger prize.

We round out this page with a quotation on a different subject. Under the heading of the challenging question: “Has the Navy joined the Catholic Church?” the Christian Century brings the following highly interesting facts to our attention:
“Twice within recent weeks units of the U.S. Navy have been ordered to display themselves at Roman Catholic events. The first such instance came when a squadron of destroyers was sent – of course at taxpayers’ expense – to the convention of the Knights of Columbus at Portland, Ore. In that fashion an effort was plainly made to add to the prestige of a Catholic fraternal order of which the secretary of the navy had until recently been the head. The second instance came early this month when a squadron of naval airplanes was sent to scatter roses over a Roman Catholic religious procession honoring St. Theresa at New Columbus, Penn. The planes made a flight of more than 100 miles from the naval air station at Willow Grove, near Philadelphia, to execute this mission – again, of course, at taxpayers’ expense.”

Dec. 4, 1949, pp. 390-91 The words keep coming back to one’s z From a Wider Field mind. Sometimes they sound like a zzzzzzz confession, sometimes they ring with warning; always they invite reflection: “It is very hard to think against the crowd, especially when the crowd is practically universal and unanimous in thought and action.” Mr. Fred Schwed, Jr., a stockbroker, offers this observation in a current magazine article in which he reviews his experiences in the great stock market crash and panic of 1929. He is not the first to discover or remark upon this human weakness, but his frank restatement of the power of a majority serves to remind us that we need to take it into account also when considering affairs in the Church.

“It is very hard to think against the crowd.” In the Christian Church, it should not be necessary to oppose the majority. For all Christians should be guided by the Word of God alone in matters of faith, doctrine, and life, and since the Word of God is clear, the majority ought always to be in the right; while matters not decided by the Word of God are properly referred to majority vote, whereto every Christian then can well afford to submit.

Unfortunately it is not always so, even in congregations or in synods, that the majority acts in accordance with God’s Word. Sometimes in ignorance, sometimes through indifference to the Lord’s command, the group begins moving in an unscriptural direction. Powerful speakers, good organizers, domineering men drown out the Holy Spirit, sweep the multitude off its feet, and the rush is on. How hard it is, then, not only to stand against the large majority, but even to think clearly on the question at issue.

Unfaithfulness to the Scriptures is a grievous sin and cannot be condoned. Yet, knowing human frailty and the grinding pressure of mass opinion, we may well resolve to deal in utmost charity with some who have erred largely because they became confused and went with the crowd. Many a simple Christian may well have been rushed into participating in some of the unionistic gatherings, for example, recently in such vogue – the rallies and organizations which are frankly designed to force a show of unity where there is no true unity, and which are fronted by loud-speaking, emotional, prominent men, or women having zeal without knowledge. When humble Christians have been made dizzy by distortions, appeals, and false hopes, let us remember to do our utmost to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Gal. 6:1.

“It is very hard to think against the crowd.” This should also warn us of the great difficulty confronting any Christian who mistakenly ventures to join a church body which teaches or tolerates false doctrine. Even if he himself is doctrinally of sound conviction, it will be increasingly hard to preserve clearness of thought and understanding in company where sentiments subversive of the Truth prevail. It is thus that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Since we are speaking of majorities, it reminds us that many of our congregations have in their constitution an article which reads about as follows: “If at any time a separation shall occur in this congregation on account of doctrine or for any other cause (which God mayCK graciously prevent), the property of this congregation and all of its benefits shall remain with those members who adhere to this constitution.” Such constitutional provision is clearly intended as a protection of the individual against a tyrannical, unfaithful majority. Since the constitution itself states the doctrinal foundation upon which the congregation is pledged, no erring majority is to be able to rob the faithful minority of its rights.

A case of this kind was recently in the news, but it had a disturbing ending. As reported in the Lutheran Standard, a pastor sought to claim for himself and his congregation the disputed right to use their church and charged that the assistant pastor and certain members had departed from the true teachings of their church body. We have no idea which party in the controversy stood true to the tenets of their church. Moreover, the fact that members of the “Church of God” sect were involved does not inspire confidence in the merits of the case. But it arouses some uneasiness when we hear that the Alabama Supreme Court threw the case out with this judgment: “Neither this court nor any other court in Alabama can say who is right in doctrinal belief.”

Granted that no earthly court has jurisdiction in matters of divine Truth, it remains true that there can be no legal protection against covenant-breaking majorities in the visible church unless civil courts are willing to rule in cases of schismatic disruption and determine which party is abiding by the doctrinal tenets required by the congregation’s constitution. This would involve a finding of fact well within the province of an impartial judge, and not a decision as to “who is right in doctrinal belief.”

A protest is in order, demanding that news publications cease and desist from printing offensive, sacrilegious headlines. An example is found, of all places, in the Washington Lutheran, a sheet published in our nation’s capital. Shockingly it headlines a column: Christ to burn mortgage, help Bethlehem build. You may, of course, understand at once that Christ Church is burning a mortgage and helping Bethlehem Congregation build. But the headline isn’t funny; it approaches blasphemy. We may expect to find such irresponsible, impious people in the composing rooms of our dailies, and we should vigorously object to their similar manipulation of divine names in the sports columns reporting games between church bowling clubs or softball teams; but when a church periodical stoops to such sensationalism, we experience a feeling of personal disgrace.

12-18 this is p. 17

THE SOWER The perennial appeal of gardening is shown by two zzzzz surprising historical events. The mighty potentate before whom Martin Luther stood in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Emperor Charles V, abdicated his throne in 1555. One of his favorite retirement pursuits was gardening. One thousand two hundred fifty years earlier, the emperor who launched the last of the Roman persecutions of Christians, Diocletian, also abdicated (in 305), and devoted himself to raising cabbages.

To garden is common enough. But the events just mentioned are hardly common. Indeed, they strike us as quite incongruous. From palace to cabbage patch? Do not rulers preside over armies, over courts, over governmental agencies? Are they not far removed from common tasks and occupations? Do they not often dominate and oppress the ordinary people, even laying claim to their possessions? Have kings and nobility not been known to hunt wherever they choose to hunt, regardless of whose property they damage in the process? Are not the fruits of the farmers’ labors at times confiscated to support the king’s martial undertakings?

Thus we see that Jesus was taking very careful aim in his parables at the Jews’ earthly concept of the kingdom of God. For we do not hear of kings, weapons, and soldiers. What do we hear? “Behold, the sower went out to sow” (Mt.13:3). Can you imagine trying to make sense of that if you thought the Messiah would put the hated Romans in their place? The message of Jesus was loud and clear: My kingdom is not what you think it will be.

LUKE 16 Luke 16 is an excellent example of what can be gained zzzz by relating portions of Scripture to each other, instead of treating them in isolation. The parable of the steward teaches us to use our earthly resources with eternity in view. The words of Jesus between that parable and the next one may puzzle us at first. How do the various statements relate to each other? What exactly is the course of thought?
After the indictment of the Pharisees for being concerned only about what can be seen by men while ignoring God’s knowledge of the heart, Jesus focuses on their rejection of God’s Word. They would have nothing of the preaching of John the Baptist, nor of Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel. (Cp. Luke 7:29-30, Mt. 11:7-19, 12:24ff., 21:28-32.) Their rejection also of Old Testament Scripture, which never loses its character as God’s Word even when the era of fulfillment has arrived, is also addressed by Jesus. (The background for v. 18 here, as well as for other verses in the New Testament, is probably the notorious activities at that time of Herod Antipas, about which the Pharisees were keeping silent. He had married Herodias, who had divorced her husband, Herod’s half-brother Philip, and then divorced his own wife. The Greek form in the last part of v. 18, “is divorced from a husband,” does not have to be taken as a passive. The initiative can lie with the divorced person: one who herself divorces, one who secures a divorce.)

Jesus thus deals in a general way with the Pharisees’ reaction (reported in v. 14) to his previous parable. But that reaction represented a specific rejection of the parable in addition to a general rejection of God’s Word. The connection between the two parables in this chapter is clear when we realize that the rich man in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus stands in the place of the steward in the preceding parable. But does he use his resources with eternity in view? Just the opposite. He shows less pity even than animals, day after day completely ignoring the needy individual positioned at his gate while devoting himself to luxurious living. In hell, when the tables are turned and he is the needy one, he suddenly calls for emergency action. There has been no welcome for him when he left this life of the kind described by Jesus in v. 9. There is not even momentary relief for his agony in the flame. Don’t we see what Jesus is doing? He is telling the Pharisees who had scoffed at his teaching about use of resources that their attitude will place them in the position of the rich man in hell.

But the parable is not yet finished. It has an addendum. With great interest, we note what additional point Jesus wishes to make with this unusual device. And we find him returning to the topic of one’s view of and use of God’s Word. Just as the first part of the parable answers to vv. 1-13, so the second part of the parable answers to vv. 15-18.

WHAT WOULD A devout elderly lady once asked me in Bible YOUR ANSWER BE? Class to explain Mt. 24:19-20. Her puzzle-zzzz ment arose from her assumption that Mt. 24 is a chapter dealing entirely with the end of the world. Let us suppose that you are called upon to deal with this lady’s concern. How would you answer her?

The larger question involved is the relationship between the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD and the end of the world. Obviously, if Mt. 24 does deal with Jesus’ second coming at some point, it is not doing so in these verses, which can pertain only to Jerusalem. But vv. 36-51 do indeed unmistakably refer to Jesus’ second coming, and to that alone. In addition, then, to verses that refer only to the destruction of Jerusalem and verses that refer only to the end of the world, are there verses in this chapter that refer to both? The common assumption that there are should not go unexamined, especially since things that can be observed in connection with the approaching destruction of Jerusalem are most emphatically excluded once you get to v. 36. There is a very marked switch from emphasis upon signs to exclusion of signs. Indeed, it is not at all easy to reconcile the concept of “signs” of Jesus’ coming with the comparison of that coming to the coming of a thief in the night.

Leaving aside v. 31 for the moment, let us work backward from v. 36 to see whether we are dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the world, or both.

V. 34: The natural way to understand “generation” is as referring to the people living at that time. See the earlier occurrences in Matthew: 11:16; 12:39,41,42,45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36. This is a weighty argument that everything up to this point is still referring exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem. (V. 27 simply stresses that when Jesus does come, it will not be a merely local occurrence.)

Vv. 32-33: If these words refer to Jesus’ second coming, they would indicate that one can infer the timing thereof from certain signs. How does one reconcile this with I Thess. 5:2? (Note that what is “near” is not specified here, since the Greek allows either a personal pronoun (he, she) or an impersonal pronoun (it) as a translation, but it is specified in Luke 21:31. And remember that “kingdom” in the Gospel accounts is ordinarily not directly connected to Jesus’ second coming.)

V. 30: The quotation is from Daniel 7:13-14, which deals, not with Jesus’ second coming, but with His glorious ascension into heaven. The word translated “earth” can also be translated “land.” At the end of the world, we will see Jesus, not a sign of Him. The opening words can be translated: “Then will appear the sign [or indication, proof, evidence] that the Son of Man is in heaven.” The destruction of Jerusalem can certainly be understood as that sign, since the Romans were Jesus’ agents, whom He was then using very effectively against the Jews just as they had once used them against Jesus at the crucifixion. The thought would be: The destruction of Jerusalem as judgment upon the unbelieving nation is proof that, as indicated in the scene depicted in Daniel 7, Jesus is ruling in glory from heaven – the one they had rejected and crucified (cp. Acts 2:36). Yes, the tribes of the land would then mourn.

V. 29: Here many are victimized by not being aware of how commonly the Bible employs figurative language. (A few obvious examples are Ps. 96:12, Is. 55:12, and Jer. 7:25.) In how many of the following verses is literal language being used? Is. 13:10; Joel 2:10, 2:31, 3:15; Ez. 32:7-8; Is. 34:4. Who does not see that language concerning darkening of what is bright and glorious and falling of what is lofty and apparently secure is effectively used to portray the collapse of earthly kingdoms? And could not such language now be most fittingly applied to the chosen nation itself when the Romans deal decisively with its revolt? Remember how frequently Scripture refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Is. 66:6; Amos 9:1; Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 19:41-44, 23:28-31; Mt. 22:7, 23:33ff.; I Th. 2:16. Note also the references to Jesus and Jerusalem’s pending destruction in Mt. 10:23, 26:64, and perhaps also 16:28.

That leaves v. 31. At first glance, it appears that this surely cannot apply to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is to be noted, however, that in other verses that speak of what the angels do at the end of the world, they do more than gather. They also separate. Cf. Mt. 13:41-42,49-50. Here they only gather. And in Greek there are not separate words for “angels” and “messengers.” The same word can have both meanings. Can a good sense be obtained if we think here of human messengers instead of angels? Yes. The destruction of the temple removed a roadblock to the spread of the Gospel. The trumpet, connected as it was with the year of Jubilee, marks the fullness of freedom we have in Christ in the New Testament period of fulfillment, when the Old Testament ceremonial law, including what took place in the temple, is permanently eclipsed. As God removes that temple with all that it represented, He sends forth His Gospel messengers throughout the world to gather the elect into His Church.

Thus the assumption that vv. 29-31 simply cannot be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem is seen to be without foundation. That opens the door for a very attractive way to understand Mt. 24, and a very simple answer to the lady’s Bible Class question. Jesus has given a very organized response to the two questions of His disciples in v. 3. The destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, though most certainly comparable in some ways, are not here merged; they are separated from one another. The very wording of v. 36 indicates a switch in topic; the second question of the disciples – the one about the end of the age – will now receive its answer. No longer need we try to understand how there can be signs of an event that will not be preceded by any signs. No longer need we deal with an apparent contradiction to the various passages of Scripture that stress the need for constant readiness for Christ’s coming since nothing will take place to mark it as about to happen, or even as particularly close. Mt. 24:36 – 25:13; Luke 12:40; Luke 17:26ff.; I Thess. 5:2; II Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:15. These passages disallow any distinctions in degrees either of nearness or of readiness.

Let us, under two headings, glance into some of the pertinent literature on this.

HOW HELPFUL May we see in earthquakes and similar disastrous IS THIS? phenomena reminders of the end of all things? zzz Most certainly. But it is a totally different thing to speak of signs as things indicating a temporal nearness of Christ’s coming that could not be inferred in the absence of those signs.

An example of obscuring this critical distinction may be found in Lesson 40 of the worksheets for the Advanced Bible History, once very commonly used in our circles in teaching Bible history to the young. Question 3 calls for the student to “list five signs of the end of the world.” But in Question 4 we find this: “These signs have always been with us. When we see them we should let them remind us [emphasis added] that this world will end. Give at least three examples of times when these signs have occurred.” (Not to be overlooked is this very unfortunate statement in Question 12: “By ‘this generation’ Jesus means the Jewish people.”)

A glance into F. Rupprecht’s Bible History References (CPH) also turns up something troubling. There, in Lesson 40 (“The Signs of Christ’s Coming Luke 21:25-36”), there is a statement that “Jesus mentioned certain signs that will precede His appearing in the clouds of heaven.” This is followed by a listing of five items under the heading, “Signs Pointing to the End.” “And there shall be signs – Certain occurrences, unusual or otherwise, that foretoken a great event; here: the coming of the Last Day. 1) In the sun and in the moon and in the stars – ‘The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven,’ Matt. 24:29.” A passage from Kretzmann’s commentary is then quoted. No. 3 is “more than ordinary tempests and gales on the great bodies of water all over the world.” No. 5, which includes another quotation from Kretzmann (“The very powers of the heavens that hold the machinery of the vast sky in place will be moved and shaken”), is that “sun, moon, and stars will leave their wonted orbits and in utter confusion will be thrust hither and thither.”

Let’s follow Rupprecht’s lead and see what we find in Kretzmann’s commentary. “When the day which is destined to be the last day of this world dawns, most unusual and terrible signs will appear. The sun will be darkened, the moon will lose her splendor, the stars will fall from the sky, the powers which control the heavens will be agitated, all the laws of nature will be overthrown. No ordinary eclipses, shooting stars, meteors here, that are merely acting in accordance with nature’s law; here is chaos, here is the subverting of all the powers that have held the universe in its accustomed path.” Does this sound like signs of the end, or the end itself; like something that is coming, or something that has arrived?

Those are comments on Mt. 24:29-31. Kretzmann makes very similar statements in his comments on Mark 13. Of interest, because of the contradiction it contains, is this: “As Jesus looks forward, according to His omniscience, the earlier calamity will merge into the later, the judgment upon Jerusalem is carried out only on a greater scale in the final judgment of the world. There will be no interval of a happy, sinless reign, no millennium. With no respite and without extensive previous warning [emphasis added] the Day of the Lord will dawn, it will burst upon the world with great suddenness [emphasis added].” The treatment of Luke 21:25-27 begins: “Here some of the signs that will usher in the great Day of Judgment are enumerated.” The context seems to indicate that the “signs” are viewed as the actual end of the world.

Thus, though Rupprecht is setting forth a dramatically different view from that of Kretzmann – “signs pointing to the end” rather than events of the end – he makes it appear that Kretzmann is an advocate of his (Rupprecht’s) view.

The inability to state clearly what is actually happening according to the common view of Mt. 24:29 is also illustrated in this striking quotation on p. 614 from The Gospels by John Ylvisaker: “When the last tribulations have reached their climax, the advent of the Lord shall take place, heralded and attended [emphasis added] by appalling cataclysms in nature: the sun shall be darkened …. … Nature, both in heaven and on earth, shall pass through such an organic change that it must be obvious to every one that the end is at hand. The forces of nature shall be transformed so thoroughly that it will be plainly apparent that the old order of things is in the process of dissolution.” Here, in the underlined three-word phrase, we have the two fundamentally contradictory positions represented: the position of Rupprecht in the word “heralded,” and the position of Kretzmann in the word “attended.”

Other baffling passages have been discovered in literature from which we would expect to obtain help. “By the presence of the vultures you can know the presence of the carcass. So shall it be at the end. By the signs I am giving you shall my sheep know that the death of the world is at hand. Like vultures these signs of the times shall fly about, and ye shall know in spite of the fearfulness of this great dying of the world, that the end is at hand. And it is indeed not hard to understand, for He has made for us the end of Jerusalem as a type. As it was with Jerusalem’s end, so shall it be at the end of the world. … Indeed they are flying about, the signs of the times, the vultures over a dying world.” (Sermon by Winfred Schaller Sr. on Mt. 24:15-28, preached Nov. 18, 1945. If the vultures represent signs, and the end of the world is its death, shouldn’t that end precede the signs, rather than vice versa? And shouldn’t the signs then proceed to devour the dead world?)

Or: “We are not unduly belaboring a point when we again caution the reader to understand the words, ‘near, right at the door’ [in Mt. 22:33] correctly. … To him what we call ‘near’ in time can be 10,000 or more years in the future.” (W. Franzmann, Bible History Commentary, NT-1, p. 677) On the other hand, A.T. Robertson candidly acknowledges (in commenting on Mt. 24:29 in his Word Pictures of the New Testament, I, pp. 192-93): “This word [immediately] … gives trouble if one stresses the time element.”

On p. 447 (Lesson 74) in Bible History (NPH, 1982; 2nd printing 1989; labeled for Grades 5-6), there is a picture of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Bible references are Mt. 24:1-29, Mark 13:1-37, and Luke 21:5-38. But the title of the lesson is “Christ’s Second Coming.”

Finally, mention should be made of the article, “Heed the Signs,” on pp. 16-17 of the January 2008 issue of the Wisconsin Synod’s Forward in Christ. In addition to other problems, including a reference to the existence of signs before the Flood, there is a setting forth of two incompatible positions. “Notably, Scripture offers three different signs to remind us [emphasis added] that his return will be ‘soon’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20).” That is acceptable, though “signs” is a misleading word. “Immediately before our Lord’s return there will also be astrological events.” What does that leave of the concept of a “thief in the night” and of the need to be ready at all times?

BUT FOR THIS WE CAN The 2004-3 issue of the Journal of BE VERY THANKFUL Theology (CLC) is an excellent zzzzzzzz launching pad for additional study of Mt. 24. That issue contains a book review in which Prof. David Lau lists the various earlier issues of the JT in which Pastor Paul F. Nolting had written on this chapter. During the last quarter of the previous century, Nolting had made the CLC aware of the alternative understanding of this chapter in papers, articles, and sermons. We might also mention his Ministry by Mail sermon of 30 years ago, the one dated Dec. 3, 1978. Because of how accustomed we are to a different understanding of v. 31, we quote Pastor Nolting’s helpful comments on that verse.

“So also the sound of the trumpet is not just used in Scripture to signal the end of time. It was also used to signal the Year of Jubilee in which liberty from debts, liberty from slavery, and liberty from all kinds of obligations was proclaimed. … As long as the temple, the Old Testament priesthood, the sacrifices, and all the rituals still remained, the preaching of the Gospel was hindered because pressure would be placed upon converts to become Jewish first so that they could become Christian. … Once all was swept away, as it was after 70 A.D., the way was cleared for messengers of the Gospel to go to the four corners of the earth and proclaim the liberty of the Gospel – liberty from the law, liberty from sin, liberty from Satan, and liberty from death itself through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jerusalem and Parousia – Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel by Prof. Jeffrey Gibbs (CPH, 2000; “parousia” is the Greek word commonly used to refer to Jesus’ second coming, and “eschatological” means “having to do with the last things”) is the book treated in Lau’s very favorable nine-page review. We limit ourselves to three brief quotations from this magnificent study. “The allusions in Matt 24:29 to Isa 13:10 and passages like it are not excessively subtle.” “The sequence of events in 24:29-31 parallels the salvation-historical sequence found in the parables of the Wicked Tenants (21:33-46) and the Wedding Feast (22:1-13), namely (1) judgment upon the nation of Israel whose leaders and crowds rejected Jesus as Christ and Son of God, followed by (2) the turning of invitation and outreach to the Gentiles.” “The sequence of ‘judgment on Jerusalem followed by mission to the Gentiles’ is precisely that which occurs in the parables of the Wicked Tenants and the Wedding Feast.” (pp. 195, 174-75, 202)

One important point of difference between Nolting and Gibbs should be noted. It concerns the question of how to understand “end” in 24:6 & 14. In view of Col. 1:6,23 (note also Acts 2:8-11 and Rom. 1:8, 10:18, 15:24), a reference to the destruction of the temple and city is certainly possible, and that is how Nolting takes it, at least in v. 6. (The promised continuation of this Journal series on the Olivet Discourse unfortunately never came; the treatment thus does not get beyond 24:8.) In the section on 24:4-8 (JT, 1988-2, pp. 37,39,40). Nolting writes: “The end of what? The end of the temple, its destruction, and so the end of the Nation of Israel in its covenant relationship to the Lord.” “Secular history reports a plethora of earthquakes in the years preceding AD 70 – in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Campania, Rome, and Judea. It was as though the Lord was making every effort to gain the attention of Jews before judgment would fall upon their nation.” “What we are protesting against is the view that our Lord, in responding to the questions of His disciples concerning His prophecy of the destruction of the temple, began by warning them about deceptions that would confront disciples living hundreds of years later.” Gibbs, however, understands it as referring to the end of the world. Cf. pp. 181-82, 196, and 229.

To answer a question that might arise concerning Mt. 24:22, we also offer the explanation given on p. 120 of An Eschatology of Victory by J. Marcellus Kik (1971): “It was out of mercy that God decreed a limit to the terrible siege. … If the siege had continued for long the war would have spread throughout Palestine and even the Christians would have suffered.”

MAIER A welcome collection of interesting material both about and z by Walter A. Maier, Missouri Synod seminary professor, author, and Lutheran Hour speaker who lived from 1893 to 1950, a collection produced by Herman Otten, was published earlier this year by Lutheran News, Inc. It is entitled Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen. Many may remember Maier as the author of For Better, Not For Worse. He also wrote a scholarly commentary on the book of Nahum. In the table of contents, there is some improper alignment of chapter headings with page numbers.

PIEPER Mention Friday evening lectures and we may immediately zz think of C.F.W. Walther’s book on Law and Gospel, the contents of which were first delivered to students at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in the “Luther Hour” on Friday evenings. Two sets of such lectures by Walther’s successor, Francis Pieper, are now available in English as a result of the translation labors of Dr. O. Marc Tangner. These are the lectures on justification, and the lectures on the true visible church. The two sets of lectures were published in 2007 by The Luther Academy under the title, The Church and Her Treasure.

Dr. Tangner, an adult convert who had once been a Marxist, and a one-time college German professor, is known and dear to us in the RLC as the translator of J.P. Meyer’s articles on the kingdom of Christ. We are delighted that he has been enabled, despite advancing age, to make this valuable material accessible in a fluent English translation. The Antichrist, the clarity and authority of Scripture, the distinction between Law and Gospel – these are but a few of the many topics that the reader will find treated in a most devout, edifying, and down-to-earth manner in these pages. A number of members of Grace Congregation have read, with great profit, the copy that has been placed in their church library.

Dr. Tangner thanks Pastor Bryce Winter of Australia for calling his attention to one set of these lectures. English translations of other sets of Pieper’s Luther Hour lectures appear in the 1998-1 issue of The Faithful Word of the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, where spiritual life is the topic, and in the 2002-1 issue of that same publication, where the proper preaching of God’s Word is the topic.

SCHALLER The lead article in the October 2002 Lutheran Spokesman z (CLC) is a portion of a Reformation sermon on I Kings 18:36-41 by Egbert Schaller. The reprinting of this in the Oct. 28, 2002, issue of Christian News elicited a letter from Joel Gerlach, one-time member of the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary faculty. Here is part of that letter, which was published on p. 24 of the Nov. 18, 2002, issue. “They [the sermons by Schaller contained in the first two volumes published by Prof. em. Paul Koch (it was the next and third volume that included the afore-mentioned Reformation sermon)] represent Lutheran preaching at its best. My wife and I use them for our family devotions, and I never cease to be amazed at what Schaller could find in a text and apply to our lives. If I were still teaching homiletics, I would require every student to acquire copies of the two booklets for the purpose of analyzing sermon structure and learning how to properly distinguish and preach Law and Gospel.” We resurrect this ringing recommendation at a time when we can joyfully announce that with publication a couple of months ago of another collection, the number of published volumes of Prof. Schaller’s sermons has reached six. Order from Paul R. Koch, 3425 Morgan Ave., Eau Claire, Wis. 54701-7023; phone 715-835-5083; [email protected] The cost is $8 per copy plus postage.

FOUNDERS Between hearing from one side that our founding fathers z were not all that different from today’s secularists, and from the other side that they were ardent Christians if not even theocrats, we have perhaps wondered just exactly where the truth really lies, and where a correct version of things can conveniently be found. One answer that can now be given is: in the pages of Founding Faith by Steven Waldman (2008). We heartily recommend its reading, and even its purchase, by any seeking, from someone not grinding an ax, an accurate and readable account of the emergence of religious liberty at our country’s founding. This is welcome and wonderful reading.

JULIAN Emperor Julian (361-363) sought to revive paganism in the z Roman Empire. What he did in turning his attention to education is of great interest. Here are quotations from pp. 83-84 of G.W. Bowersock’s 1978 book, Julian the Apostate. “… Julian did not advocate illegality or open persecution as a means of wiping out the Christians. He preferred subtler means, especially inducements to recant and the purification of the younger generation. … No Christian, in his view, would qualify as a teacher because he was automatically deficient in character (mores). Accordingly by a single stroke Julian forbade Christians to teach grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy. … Julian knew perfectly well what he was doing. Within little more than a generation the educated elite of the empire would be pagan. … Meanwhile, Julian announced that the Christians had to be cured of their disease like madmen, against their will. ‘In my opinion,’ he declared, ‘one does not punish but instruct the insane.’”

LUTHER Beginning with a volume scheduled to come out a year from z now, Concordia Publishing House is embarking on a major project: translating and publishing more of Luther’s works in 20 volumes that will be added to the current 55 volumes of the American Edition of Luther’s works as volumes 56-75.

We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.

A DEADBEAT’S BIBLE The old curfew warning said, “It’s 10 zzzzz o’clock p.m. Do you know where your children are?” Authorities have modified the warning for parents of today’s latchkey kids: “It’s 4 o’clock p.m. Do you know where your children are?”
The cops know, even if parents do not, that unsupervised children are not capable of supervising themselves.
But the can’t-be-bothered parent has a heroine in Judith Rich Harris, whose best-selling book has a title which pretty much says it all: “The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do; Parents Matter Less Than You Think and Peers Matter More.”
Nothing parents do, Harris argues, affects a child’s behavior, relationships, personality, sense of self-worth, mental health, or abilities. Virtually nothing the parent says or does – not kind words, slaps, or hugs; neither laxity nor firmness – makes a smidgen of difference in a child’s life.
Parents get no credit or blame, if they rear children well or abuse them, Harris says, because parents simply don’t matter.
Well then, does anything matter? Yes, Harris says: “The world that children live in with their peers determines how they grow up.” She means: Spend lots of money on a nice home in a swank neighborhood, for fashionable clothes, orthodontia, and if need be, plastic surgery.
Harris just put another book in the bible of pop psychology which says, “Everything bad that happens is somebody else’s fault.”
The real Bible teaches personal responsibility; behavior does matter; and, like it or not, there are always consequences. Why “Honor thy father and thy mother,” if they don’t matter anyway? Why should fathers “bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” if fathers are irrelevant to start with?
Does any sane person really believe Harris’ psychobabble on child rearing? An old friend of ours used to say, “If you’re going to train a dog, you’ve got to be smarter than the dog.” Solomon agrees in a famous Bible proverb [22:6]: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Note the phrase, “way he should go,” and not the “way he wants to go.” Solomon assumed a real parent would know the difference.

DOCTORED PRIORITIES Ronald Glasser, M.D. and a Minneapolis z pediatrician, is an even-tempered man. He’s mad and he stays mad. He says his doctor’s office today is little more than an insurance company’s waiting room. Glasser claims America’s doctors are held hostage to corporate health-care systems that are more interested in making money than caring for the sick.
He cites a manifesto, signed last year by 2,300 Massachusetts physicians, protesting the threats and bribes to shun the sickest patients as “unprofitable.” They risk being fired or “delisted” for giving, or even discussing, expensive procedures and are offered “bonuses” for minimizing health care.
And Doc Glasser names names: Women with breast cancer who have to hire lawyers to get their health plans to pay for treatment. Managed-care companies that deny wheelchairs to children who pass a “utilization test” by staggering 25 feet with the help of a walker.
Sadly, Doc says, this is occurring at a time when new medical procedures are developed every day that are nothing short of miraculous.
There are a whole lot of school teachers out there who know exactly what Dr. Glasser is talking about and understand his frustration. Most got into teaching to equip children with the basics and enrich their lives with a mastery of history, math, and literature. Instead, they find they are supposed to stem the tide of broken homes, drug abuse, venereal disease, gang violence, and racial prejudice.
The good folks in Onalaska [Wis.] recently debated the merits of all-day kindergarten sessions. Many quite honestly favored the idea because it would spare them the expense of day care.
So now we can add babysitting to the list of feeding, medicating, entertaining, chaperoning, and disciplining American school children.
And the end is nowhere in sight. Check any school office for the non-educational baggage educators are saddled with. And people wonder why Johnny can’t read? Or figure his change from a one-dollar bill?
It’s hard to go up against a $952-billion-a-year health-care system. But it is possible for parents to refocus attention, away from themselves, and back on the offspring they brought into this world.

We in the RLC have now enjoyed nearly nine years of joint work. This wonderful blessing our Heavenly Father has granted to us for Jesus’ sake, despite our great unworthiness.

The first of our two conference meetings this past year was held April 5th in Austin, Minn. The four congregations had made preparations for participating in a discussion regarding the best way to spend our time at meetings and the best way to work together more efficiently. Detailed proposals that had been submitted by St. Peter’s of Austin were discussed at some length, with the result that one of them – the proposal to start a publication – was adopted. (The other proposal was to establish a committee to deal with all aspects of our organization and joint work.) Pastor Dommer began a discussion of the liturgy.

Pastor Dommer continued this presentation during the first part of our other meeting this year, which was held at St. Mark’s in Onalaska on Sept. 15th. A topic by Pastor Wehrwein on Psalm 82 and government that had been started at the April 21, 2007, meeting was completed. Considerable discussion on the subject of education attended this topic. Discussion of our joint work was then resumed. Although inconclusive, this discussion did bring before everyone the question of why we have not made a systematic, concerted effort to determine where we should be focusing our time, efforts, and resources.

“Love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth,” I Cor. 13:4-6. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. … Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation,” Rom. 12:10,16. “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit,” I Peter 3:8. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself,” Phil. 2:3. “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth,” III John 4.

INTRODUCTION Our memory of the name of Alfred Rehwinkel zzz goes back to grade school, when my upper-grade Christian day school teacher made us aware of the vast amount of interesting information that he had gathered and published in his book, The Flood (CPH, 1951). Rehwinkel and his book are mentioned at various points both in The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris (1961) and in History of Modern Creationism by Henry Morris (1984). The sensation it created and influence it exerted are detailed in the book we will cite in the next paragraph. The Wonders of Creation is another excellent work by this Missouri Synod educator, writer, and crusader, who lived from 1887 to 1979 and taught at Concordia Lutheran Seminary for nearly three decades (1936-1965). Still another of his numerous books is Communism and the Church (CPH, 1948), one of the first books of its kind and one that resulted in many speaking invitations for the author from all over the country.

But in this article, we wish to introduce you to an unpublished writing of Rehwinkel, of the existence of which we learned from a perusal of Ronald Stelzer’s 1993 book published by Lutheran News, New Haven, Mo., and containing a foreword by Herman Otten: Salt, Light, and Signs of the Times – An Intimate Look at the Life and Times of Alfred (Rip) Rehwinkel. Stelzer’s acquaintance with Rehwinkel began when he lived upstairs from him while a student at Concordia Seminary, deepened when he wrote a research paper on him, and developed in the middle and late 1970s into the continuous interaction with him in his last years that enabled him to produce his fascinating portrait.

Stelzer’s mention on p. 133 of Rehwinkel’s “four hundred page unpublished manuscript entitled War, the Christian’s Dilemma” launched the undersigned on a search. Guided by a helpful response from the author to our inquiry, we succeeded in establishing that the manuscript was in the possession of the Concordia Historical Institute of the Missouri Synod. We are most grateful to that institution for supplying us with a photocopy of this manuscript, housed in the “Alfred M. Rehwinkel Collection,” and also for its kind cooperation in answering subsequent inquiries, culminating in its assurance that, while actual permission to publish would in this case have to come from Rehwinkel’s heirs, there is nothing standing in the way of our writing a brief article about this manuscript.

Stelzer indicates that World War II was the impetus behind the manuscript. His riveting fifth chapter, “Days of Infamy,” recounts Rehwinkel’s active involvement with the America First Committee, “a nationwide organization dedicated to alerting the public of America’s drift toward war and halting that drift before it was too late” (p. 128). Other supporters of the AFC were Lutheran Hour speaker, Walter A. Maier, and Col. Charles Lindbergh.

Excerpts from Rehwinkel’s personal diary on pp. 130-32 demonstrate how he “watched Roosevelt’s masquerade as a peacemaker with growing apprehension and disgust.” “Step by step Roosevelt has brought us to the brink of war, though he claims that he has done all to keep us out of war. We do not trust him; in fact, his foreign policy so far has been amateurism, blustering, and boasting about American superiority and lecturing foreign nations and rulers …” (Nov. 5, 1940). “At least 90% of the American people do not want war, and yet we are drawn into this world war just as we were 23 years ago” (Dec. 29, 1940). “All campaign promises are forgotten. How long will the American people be duped?” (March 15, 1941). “The war clouds are gathering and getting darker from day to day. The State Department is insulting and provoking both Japan and Germany. Only fools provoke a war on two fronts at the same time” (Nov. 29, 1941).

Then comes the statement about the war being the impetus for the manuscript, followed by about 10 pages (133-142) that deal in large measure with that manuscript, giving an excellent impression of its contents and of how effectively Rehwinkel laid bare the desolation caused by World War II, exposed the fearful atrocities of which also the Allies were guilty, and depicted the brutality that extended beyond the end of the war. “Deaths resulting from the Second World War, of which the decided majority were civilians, totaled almost 75,000,000, the equivalent to the population of the Roman Empire at the time of Saint Paul.” (Stelzer, p. 133; Rehwinkel, p. 24. The latter makes another com-parison on p. 298: Even the lower estimate of 65,000,000 equals “twice the population of the United States at the time of the Civil War.”)
The reader might initially think that “Dachau trials” (Stelzer, p. 135) should be “Nuremberg trials,” but the former is correct. Rehwinkel quotes at length from a book in which Freda Utley reported how “every kind of physical and mental torture” was employed in the “Dachau trials.” “These were the trials,” she continues, “conducted by the United States Army Tribunals (as distinct from the civilian and ostensibly international trials at Nuremberg) …” (Rehwinkel, p. 68). (Here we might mention that one naturally looks charitably upon the dozens of typographical errors in the manuscript, but there are instances of such being carried over into Stelzer’s book. Rehwinkel refers on p. 57 to the Princeton Theological Seminary professor who was very active in providing relief to Germany after World War II as Otto “Pieper,” when it should be “Piper.” And note 17 on p. 60, which provides the source for material drawn from Dr. Austin App, has a missing space and extra or misplaced comma, resulting in: “Dr. Appin, Ravishing the Women of Conquered Europe.” And so we find references by Stelzer to Prof. Otto “Pieper” and Dr. “Appin” in note 22 on p. 304. A rather surprising slip is found on p. 395 of the manuscript, where Mt. 22:40 is paraphrased: “That is the law and the gospel.”)

Stelzer does not provide the time of writing. The manuscript itself is not dated. Only after carefully noting various internal indications – such as references to the Vietnam War, or the reference to “the 50 years of the Communist regime” (p. 37), or remarks about the projected but not yet attained moon landing (“invade” is the term employed on pp. 30, 299, and 301), or the comment about the terrible riots in various American cities (p. 327), or the citation of an article dated Dec. 18, 1967 (p. 254) – did we arrive at the following on p. 368: “Our military budget this year (1968) ….” In that year, 40 years ago, Rehwinkel turned 81.

DEEPLY FLAWED Rehwinkel would have spared his readers a good z deal of puzzlement if he had employed an intro-duction to set forth the one biblical message of salvation by grace in Christ, and to affirm that all else ultimately vanishes into insignificance in comparison with what pertains to the salvation of souls; and then to declare frankly that his horror at what modern warfare has become, and his dismay at what he perceives to be widespread reluctance also in the church to face up to a difficult and certainly in its own way very important issue, have combined to arouse his crusading zeal and impelled him to pen this passionate appeal for a fresh and realistic look at war in our day.

But there is no such introduction. Indeed, the keen anticipation with which we began the reading was greatly dampened by the discovery, very early, of something truly troubling: the repeated use of wording that could easily leave the impression that Jesus’ mission was to promote earthly peace. Imagine your shock, disappointment, and bewilderment upon being confronted with statement after statement like the following: “Modern war is the very antithesis of the Christian religion as taught by our Lord Jesus” (p. 8). “War is the greatest curse and the greatest scourge that can be visited upon a nation. But it is also the greatest destruction of those principles and ideals for which the Christian church has always stood and must stand. It is the very antithesis of the religion of Jesus. War and the religion of Jesus are in the same relation to one another as Christ is to Belial” (p. 77). “Harnack is certainly right when he says: ‘It requires no further proof to establish firmly that the Gospel excludes all violence and has nothing in common with war nor will permit it’” (p. 97). “The essence of the Christian religion is love” (p. 43). “Modern war denies everything that Jesus lived and taught” (p. 92).

The Gospel is indeed occasionally set forth or referred to, but more often than not only incidentally, and generally quite briefly. “Ethics of Jesus” and other dubious terminology that so easily leaves the impression that Christianity is merely a refined form of natural law abounds. Over and over again Christianity and the activity of the Church is presented in terms that take us neither beyond the realm of natural law into grace, nor beyond the realm of what is temporal into what is eternal. The cover itself quotes Mt. 5:9. It thus becomes difficult to suppress the question: Shouldn’t the author have made it easier for his readers sharply to distinguish his viewpoint from that of the many writers who arouse our dismay because their profession to be Christian in their beliefs and statements is belied by the conspicuous absence of the actual Gospel?

It is stated and restated that Christians are the conscience of the world. “As a light they are to lead the way in disseminating a correct philosophy of life by which men and nations can live. Or in other words, Christians are to function as the conscience of the world. … Christians must be the collective conscience in a society of which they are a part. … It is the business of the Church to function as a moral mentor in the society, clearly setting forth the moral issues involved in the problem that may confront a community or the nation. … The early Christians changed the character of the pagan world into which they had been sent, armed only with the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. And by the preaching of this Gospel and demonstrating its power in their own lives, they changed the character of the people and the people in turn changed their environment in that world. Ancient and deep-seated moral and social evils disappeared and a new, Christianized moral and social order emerged. ‘The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation,’ says the Apostle Paul, Romans 1.” (pp. 374-376) “The great social reform movements in history were nearly always started by individual men or women endowed with vision and courage against a hostile, negative society opposing them. John the Baptist was a ‘lone voice crying in the wilderness.’” (p. 377) Should passages dealing with what is eternal be linked so closely to what is only temporal?

We are thus deeply pained to have to report that as far as the theological aspects of the material are concerned, a reading of the manuscript became a prolonged, generally unrelieved, and eventually rather exasperating exercise in disentangling truth from falsehood.

What does this mean? I wish I knew. Among the many memorable passages in Stelzer’s book is this on p. 246: “To this day Rip’s address is vividly recalled by a Saint Louis area layman: ‘For 20 minutes he walked back and forth dramatizing that he was in hell. He had everyone shaking. Then he walked to the podium and began his sermon.’ Rip followed with a strong apology for the integrity of God’s Word, the only place where mortal man might discover the way of escape from the terrors of eternal damnation ….” On the one hand, who would want to question in the slightest that the one thing that always meant the most to Rehwinkel was the Gospel? On the other hand, who of us, even in writing of earthly war, would not bend every effort to ensure that nothing is said that obscures the nature of the Gospel? I do not know who could venture to affirm with conviction that the cumulative impact of all statements about Jesus and Christianity is to leave the reader in no doubt that the one truth of absolutely overriding and surpassing importance is that one died for all and therefore all died, that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Cor. 5:14,21), that Christ came into this world to save sinners, of whom each of us is chief (I Tim. 1:15), that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having been made a curse for us, as it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Gal. 3:13), that God declared war on Satan, into whose grip we had fallen, and cast him out and broke his power (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31; Heb. 2:14).

But though deeply flawed, the book contains a great deal of valuable information and constitutes an eloquent, powerful, and moving call to rouse us to be more concerned about an issue of great importance. As shocking as it may seem, Rehwinkel reports (p. 15): “I lived through two fearful World Wars which involved every Christian in Canada and the United States, and yet in all these years I did not attend a single conference or synodical convention of my church in which the problem of a just war was discussed excepting one where I had been requested to present a paper on the subject of the Christian and war.”

OVERVIEW OF CONTENTS The difficulties of discussing war are zz candidly set forth in the introduction. “It is not easy to condemn war without appearing to condemn the warrior ….” “… People do not wish to discuss it because it may lead to strong differences of opinion and to unpleasant consequences.” (pp. 1-2)

The first of the seven chapters, “Why the Church Ought to Study the Problem of War at This Time,” runs from p. 5 to p. 78. Many of these pages are devoted to the terrible scale on which modern war is waged and to the utterly staggering and virtually unimaginable destruction that it has caused. Some noteworthy remarks about Communism are made: “Before the war there was a total of four million Lutherans in Russia. By 1936 the Lutheran Church had disappeared in that country.” “Russia’s Lutheran Church was nearly twice as large as the Missouri Synod and was wiped out in 18 years.” “… While the first war established Communism in Russia and practically destroyed the church in that country, the Second World War has given Communists a dominant position in all of Europe and Asia, which means that about two-thirds of the entire human race has come directly or indirectly under atheistic and Communistic influence.” (pp. 40-41)

An Australian theologian, Dr. Hamann, is quoted as follows on p. 74: “Western imperialism and militarism have always been a far greater obstacle in the way of evangelizing the East than most people realize …. Our age has added two formidable ramparts to the defenses behind which the East resists the tidings of Christ: the war of 1914-1918 and the war of 1939-1945.” Rehwinkel himself adds (p. 75): “Unbelievers, however, will not easily receive Bibles from the hands that rained bombs upon them and their families ….”

Chapter Two (pp. 79-118) discusses what the Bible says about war. If Rehwinkel has not here actually crossed the line from correctly denouncing the hatred often felt and encouraged in wartime to incorrectly making exhortations unto love in our personal relations into a virtual prohibition of using the sword in the service of government, he certainly seems to come rather close at times. “But this is what you are not covering” is our marginal comment arising from the second last word in the following sentence (p. 82): “All of Christian conduct and the whole Christian life of sanctification becomes meaningful or meaningless as it is or is not motivated by true Christian love.” Ps. 139:21-22 came to mind where Rehwinkel wrote (p. 88): “Love and hate cannot exist side by side in the same human heart.” Luke 3:14, a key passage, is largely dismissed in a section that alleges that Roman soldiers of the time were comparable to policemen, and that “the business of the soldier and that of the policeman have nothing in common” (p. 102; cf. also 163-4). It is in this section too that the incorrect claim is made (p. 101): “Since the days of Caesar Augustus until Marcus Aurelius, or for a period of about 200 years there were no wars in the Roman world.” And one’s heart sinks to read on p. 113: “I will readily grant that the attitude of the Old Testament on the question of war is quite different from that of the New Testament.”

The third chapter (pp. 119-154) surveys how theologians throughout the history of the church have viewed war. This includes a section on American writers. Noteworthy is the following statement, made regarding World War II (p. 149): “For the first time, some Lutheran church papers became instruments of propaganda for war.”

The fourth chapter (pp. 155-168) discusses pacifism. It is treated sympathetically, but the concluding paragraphs do warrant Stelzer’s statement (p. 133) that “Rip refused to embrace absolute pacifism.”
The fifth and longest chapter (pp. 169-291) deals with the concept of a just war. This is a useful compendium of material showing how diligently theologians throughout the ages, including Luther (over 16 pages are devoted to him) and others of the Reformation period, endeavored to set forth the criteria of a just war. Most welcome is the inclusion also of material concerning non-Christian thinkers, such as Cicero, accompanied by a brief discussion of natural law (p. 176). In addition to the expected treatments of Augustine and Aquinas, several pages are devoted to Antoninus or Antonio (1389-1459), “the scholarly and pious archbishop of Florence” (p. 186), and also to Francisco de Vitoria (c. 1492-1546), a nearly exact contemporary of Luther; and John Gerhard (leading Lutheran teacher, 1582-1637) receives close to half the space devoted to Luther. Hugo Grotius also naturally figures prominently in these pages, and it is a delight to see his great learning so warmly and admiringly praised by Rehwinkel (pp. 173, 232), who also reports that the Swedish Lutheran general, Gustavus Adolphus, “thought so highly of this book [De Jure Belli Ac Pacis, by Grotius] that he had it with him at all times and kept it together with his Bible under his soldier’s pillow during his campaigns in the Thirty Years’ War” (p. 232).

Vera Brittain and James M. Spaight are among the writers cited in the later part of this chapter. The latter is quoted (p. 252) as acknowledging that England “began to bomb objectives on the German mainland before Germans began to bomb objectives on the British mainland.” Discussion of bombing then leads to the posing of this question (p. 259): “What would the American churches have said if Hitler’s Luftwaffe would have bombed the residential district of New York, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Baltimore, and other industrial cities and shipping centers of our country and would have destroyed hospitals, schools, cathedrals, and our universities because the Americans were supporting the war efforts of his enemies with military supplies and ammunition?”

On p. 289, Rehwinkel states his conclusion that “the Augustinian idea of a just war is no longer applicable to wars as they are waged today with the monstrous engines of mass destruction in the indiscriminate murder of innocent men, women, and children.” On p. 305 he declares, regarding a just war, that “even that crutch for the Christian conscience has disappeared.”

Chapter 6 (pp. 292-303) is about the futility of war. “If anyone still doubted the utter futility of war, the two world wars through which our generation has struggled should convince even the most moronic mind and the most ardent worshipper of wars.” (p. 294) “Our leaders sat with this man, Joseph Stalin, the most cruel of all tyrants of history, around the same council table to plan this world destruction, and the masses cheered and elected the man who represented us there for four successive terms, an honor that has come to no other man in the entire history of our nation.” (p. 299) Ominous parallels are drawn between the West of today and both the Romans and the Greeks. A passage from the next chapter fits well here: “… The future historian will stop in astonishment and ask, how was it possible that the enlightened people of that world could have been so misguided and so misled by men of that character [Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, and Roosevelt].” (pp. 356-7)

The dilemma has become acute. Having found the solutions both of pacifism and of a just war to be unsatisfactory, Rehwinkel takes up in the seventh, final, and second longest chapter (pp. 304-398) the question: “What is the Answer to this Christian Dilemma?” According to him, it is that the Christian is to acquire that knowledge of our own government and of world affairs and of the chief causes of war which would enable him to act effectively in reducing the chances of war. Keeping “a watchful eye on the leaders of our government and the vicious propaganda agencies” is stressed (p. 342). Personal experience is referred to (p. 359): “Those of us who lived through the two world wars will never forget the fiendish proficiency with which the hate-mongers aroused the American and the Canadian people and excited their passion into hysteria by outrageous lies and atrocity stories which later were proven to be false and infamous lies.” “The greatest casualty in times of war is truth. The spirit of war is fed on lies about the enemy and upon the hypocritical self-glorification of one’s own country” (p. 393).

Development of the line of thought is somewhat slowed by the discussion of the origin and nature of government that opens this chapter. One is disappointed to see America referred to repeatedly as a democracy, and also to encounter the baffling statement that government is part of the order of creation (p. 310). But this chapter and the entire book are rounded out with an eloquent appeal to oppose the glamorization of war. These pages alone would justify this article, and they show that there is much that we could take today from what lies buried in this manuscript on war.

We have reserved for the end some remarks on one of the best parts of this book, the discussion on pp. 274-289 of the question whether the individual citizen retains the right to judge whether a war being conducted by his government is a just war. Our own awareness of a difference of view on this among Synodical Conference theologians arose from the chance discovery long ago of a passage in a 1940 convention essay by Prof. George Lillegard of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, “The Principle of the Separation of Church and State Applied to our Times.”

On the one hand, Francis Pieper, following Luther, wrote (Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 66): “In accordance with this everyone must carefully examine whether, e.g., a war is justified or not. … Here the conscience of the individual must decide; he cannot permit the State or the Church (pastor, synod) or any other man-made agency to make the decision for him. Therefore Luther stresses the need to investigate the situation, not in a superficial manner, but ‘with the greatest diligence.’” Walther could have been cited also: “For example, a Christian soldier should be ready to sacrifice life and limb, rather than to engage in an unjust war on the orders of his king.” (Essays for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 274)

On the other hand, Lillegard wrote: “… It is obvious that the government will in every case reserve to itself the authority and right to decide when war is justified. … But when ‘the powers that be’ have decided that they are justified in declaring war, the individual citizen must yield to their judgment, or accept the status of a rebel against his government and expect to be treated accordingly. As a loyal citizen, he has then no longer the right to ‘decide for himself whether any particular war is a just one.’” Lillegard too cites Luther, but, it appears, disingenuously. Here is the key quotation from Luther, from the section on going to war in his 1523 treatise on obeying temporal authority: “What if a prince is in the wrong? Are his people bound to follow him then too? Answer: No, for it is no one’s duty to do wrong; we must obey God (who desires the right) rather than men [Acts 5:29]. What if the subjects do not know whether their prince is in the right or not? Answer: So long as they do not know and cannot with all possible diligence find out, they may obey him without peril to their souls. …” (American Edition of Luther’s works, Vol. 45, pp. 125-126) Lillegard quotes the second part of that, which involves a point not in dispute, but omits the really pertinent part, which comes right before it, and which we have put in italics.

Rehwinkel brings quotations (p. 274) also from P.E. Kretzmann and W.G. Polack, both Missouri Synod writers, that place them on the side of Lillegard, from whose afore-mentioned essay he also quotes. But he disagrees with them. “No individual is ever absolved from personal responsibility for his own action, not even the government can become his conscience” (p. 279). “John Gerhard … writes: ‘It is asked whether the subjects are bound to obey the magistrate to whatever war he calls them. We answer: In order that the conscience of the subjects be advised, a distinction must be made between a war notoriously unjust and one whose cause is doubtful or hidden. If the magistrate moves towards a notoriously unjust war, the subjects are absolved from obedience according to the Apostolic rule, Acts 5:29 …’” (p. 281). “If a Christian cannot judge for himself in this matter, why then does the Augsburg and other Confessions say that a Christian may participate in a just war only?” (pp. 285-6)

Having mentioned Lillegard’s essay (which is available in the report of the 23rd convention of the Norwegian Synod, and which was also reproduced separately in pamphlet form), we should like to submit also the following passage from it to the judgment of our readers. It is on p. 40 of the convention report. “History has now proven, I believe, that our country’s participation in the last World War [WWI] was anything but ‘just’; yet most people thought it was so at the time and threatened to mob anyone who said otherwise. If Lutherans, remembering the lessons of the last war, now make up their mind that any participation in the present war [WWII] would also be unjust, they might find that history eventually would prove them sadly mistaken.”

Is it possible that people prepared to mob others who differed from them had perhaps not given the matter serious and sober consideration to start with? Is it also possible that the first order of business when a similar situation arises is to see to it that one is not caught up in another stampede?

We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House of the Wisconsin Synod for permission to reprint the articles that Prof. Schaller wrote for the Northwestern Lutheran. This article, in addition to an article published under his usual heading, “From a Wider Field,” appeared in the Dec. 4, 1949, issue. RW

Prominent officers and men of the United States Navy, in public statements, have declared that the present defense policies of the government are morally wrong. In planning to protect the nation against future aggression, they say, the government is preparing to use the atomic bomb as its chief weapon. Carried by huge planes, this bomb will wipe out large sections of an enemy country, destroying non-combatants and armaments alike without distinction. Such warfare is described as “politically and economically senseless,” and “morally reprehensible.”

The claim that an atomic war would be “morally wrong” will undoubtedly call forth much discussion in our country, and by the time this is printed a nation-wide argument may be in progress. The subject may find a place in many an Armistice Day speech. Already, religious organizations are declaring that it is high time somebody said what the Navy is saying.

WHAT IS MORAL? It is undoubtedly true that the next war, waged zz with atomic weapons, would be even more fearfully destructive than the last. But we would seem badly advised to single out a certain weapon of destruction and pronounce its use “morally wrong” without careful qualification.

In the last war, men used flame-throwers against the Japanese, blockbusters against Berlin, and fire bombs on Tokyo. Indiscriminate bombing of cities proceeded from Hamburg to Munich. To distinguish morally between saturation bombing with TNT and the use of atomic explosives would be like making a moral distinction between the case of a man who is only a little drunken and that of a sot. Drunkenness in any degree is a mortal sin; so is murder.
True morality is defined by God, not by the reactions of the heart of man. When warfare is an act of murder, it is to be condemned on moral grounds, whatever the weapons employed. But we hold with Scripture that war is not necessarily immoral.

We look with horror upon war as ghastly evidence of the criminal nature of man; and the prospect of warfare intensified by atomic destruction weighs like a stone upon the hearts of all. Yet even under stress of dread and fear, we must not lose the power of calm appraisal and judgment.

War can be a necessity thrust upon us. When that necessity arises, the government is morally responsible for the most effective action possible in defense of the nation’s interests. The powers that be are ordained of God, and bear not the sword in vain. As Luther quaintly remarks, the sword in the hands of government is not a fox’s tail. It has an edge which causes death, and is to be used to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

LUTHER’S WORDS ON WAR Luther also wrote: “When I look at z warfare and see how it punishes the wicked, kills the evil-doers, and brings about such misery, it seems to be an un-Christian work and in every way contrary to Christian love. But when I see that it protects the pious, keeps and preserves wife and child, house and home, property, honor, and peace, it becomes apparent how precious and divine the work is, and I note that it cuts off a leg and a hand in order that the whole body may not perish.” [Cf. the American Edition of Luther’s works, Vol. 46, pp. 96-99; also Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, No. 4596.]

It is not necessary here that we discuss the difference between just and unjust wars; for this is a lengthy and complicated question which would add nothing to the point of this brief treatise. In an unjust war, all weapons are wicked agents; but when a conflict is morally justifiable in the sight of God, a government is morally free, within the limits of existing and effective international agreements, to use the means best calculated to reach the necessary end, and a moral indictment against any single weapon is futile sophistry.

AN ECONOMICAL FACTOR Expert testimony may reveal that zzz atomic war would indeed be “politically and economically senseless.” What a blessing to the human race if this became a universally accepted judgment, supported by facts and figures prepared by qualified authorities! Though improbable, it is just possible that the self-interest of man may work toward bringing about the banning of atomic warfare by mutual agreement of the nations as being economically unsound. For this grace we devoutly pray.

If it can be shown that use of the atomic bomb would be militarily and economically unsound and cannot serve the rightful purpose sought by an embattled nation, then of course its use would be wanton and criminal.

Meanwhile, however, our government must prepare for any eventuality; and whatever the practical merits of our national plans of defense may be, the weapons involved have no moral implications in themselves. For the simple fact is that God has not rated military weapons according to their moral value. He has not ruled against the atomic bomb in favor of buzz-bombs and submarines. Rather, He has enjoined us, saying: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Rom. 12:18.

Putting aside vain moralistic hair-splitting, let us “seek peace and pursue it,” to that end making supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks “for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” I Tim. 2.

As indicated on p. 17 of the March-April issue, we intend to make some of Pastor Parcher’s columns, originally appearing in his church bulletin, available in these pages. We gratefully acknowledge his kind permission to do so. RW

The Athanasian Creed is one of the three great ecumenical creeds of the Christian Church.
This creed (p. 53 of the hymnal) was named in honor of the man Athanasius, who lived several centuries earlier.
In the fourth century Athanasius contended against the so-called Arians, who held beliefs much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Unitarians of our day.
Athanasius claimed on the basis of Scripture that Christ was both God and man in one person, and not merely a good-hearted social worker in sandals.
The trouble was, Athanasius held his ground at a time and in a place in history when it was not popular to do so.
He was suspended and deposed from office, banished and exiled with a price on his head, not once or twice, but four different times.
They had a saying about him, first in derision, then as a joke, and finally as the supreme compliment: “Athanasius against the world!”
Gamblers would not have liked the odds, but it was not the first time, nor the last, when the world was wrong and one man was right.
In the dispirited army camp of Israel, there was only one, a shepherd boy from Bethlehem, who did not fear to face the giant Goliath.
Among the 276 passengers of that sinking ship, it was one man, the prisoner Paul, who rallied their spirits and saved the day.
By our standards, it was a hopeless scene when Luther stood alone before the assembled princes and prelates of church and state.
Did anyone ever stand more alone, and die alone, than Christ did?
And yet, did God ever make more out of one man’s stand for the truth?
“The cheese stands alone,” the old nursery rhyme says, and we shrink back from standing alone as an outcast.
The bureaucrat within our breast always wants to play a grander role, on a larger stage, and with a greater supporting cast.
But the truth is eternal. The truth doesn’t take sides or play favorites. The truth has never been the exclusive property of the majority.
Why stand for the truth in a crooked world like this? In a world like this, standing alone for the truth really counts for something.

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3 18

War, the Christian’s Dilemma by R.E. Wehrwein..…….………….…p. 4
A review of an unpublished book by Alfred Rehwinkel

The Atomic War by Egbert Schaller ………………………………..…p. 15

To the Point! by John Parcher ………….…………………………….p. 17

The January 2003 issue of the Concordia Journal of the Missouri Synod has a brief article dealing with the concept of a just war. The opening paragraph acknowledges this to be a topic “to which we have not given much attention in theology over the past several years, if ever” (p. 65). Six points are listed in answer to the question of when the state may declare a war that is not defensive. There must be both a just cause and a just intention, as well as a probability of success. “It must be done only as a last resort. … Competent authority must declare it. … And finally, there must be proportional objectives. The value expected from the use of force must be greater than the costs or harm expected.” (p. 66)
With reference to then current U.S. bombing of a nation with which we were not at war, the concluding paragraph of the lead article in the July 2000 issue of The Religion & Society Report begins: “What are we to think of this? Are we to assume that our nation may shed blood with impunity, whenever it suits us, perhaps because of our high percentages of religious observance, perhaps because of our ignorance, real or pretended, about what is really being done by our authorities?” The article is concluded with the words of Prov. 24:11-12.
A previously unpublished article on war by Prof. J.P. Koehler appears in the Sept.-Oct. 2007 issue of Faith-Life. Koehler writes (p. 21): “At the same time it remains intact what Scripture teaches by example and admonition that the Christian is called to be a salt on earth by reproving injustice wherever he meets it, self-evidently doing so in the spirit of love. From this follows that a Christian must give testimony when he finds that our country is to blame, that our government supports wrong, or even breaks the law.” The article in the 1969-3 (August) issue of the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, “Friedrich Bente on World War I in Lehre und Wehre,” might also be mentioned. RW

God’s Executioner? by R.E. Wehrwein……………………………..…p. 4

Wisdom and Foolishness by Lester Wehrwein…………………..……p. 7

Scripture vs. Rapture by R.E. Wehrwein …………………………….p. 12

Descent While Dead? by R.E. Wehrwein ……………..…………….p. 15

From a Wider Field by Egbert Schaller…………..………………….p. 17

At its meeting this past April, the conference designated these months, July-August, as the latest that the first issue of this publication was to appear. Now, after three special issues, the staff of Always Abounding – R.E. Wehrwein, Derek Wehrwein, Shannon Steensma – is finally publishing an issue that comes much closer to what it expects will be typical issues in the future.

The article on wisdom and foolishness was originally published in the Nov.-Dec. 1990 issue of the LCCF Newsletter. In view of the author’s entrance on July 19th into his heavenly home at the age of 93, it was thought appropriate to include something from his pen.

The material on the last pages consists, not of an entire article, but of brief samples from a number of columns to show the high quality of material that will be coming to you as we, acting on the kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House, continue to reprint these excellent columns of 50-60 years ago from the Northwestern Lutheran. You will notice two words added in brackets. These were, after considerable hesitation, supplied by the undersigned in order to yield a good sense.

The very last quotation is from a different source. It is added as something that can also be well applied to our RLC meetings, in keeping with what delegates are voicing more and more – that the more advance preparation we put into our meetings, the better they will go. RW

Evaluating Luther’s view
of Satan’s role in disasters

When we consider what to acquire for our personal theological library beyond such basics as Bible(s), hymnal(s), and catechism(s), Ewald Plass’s anthology, What Luther Says, deserves a place near or perhaps even at the top of the list. This is a magnificent treasure-trove of quotations from Luther on a host of topics, beginning with “absolution” and ending with “zeal.”

When we turn to the topic of the devil, we are treated, on the one hand, to the fruits of Luther’s own intense personal struggles with the devil, for example the advice to treat him with contempt, mockery, and ridicule. On the other hand, there is also the word of caution from Plass that “as a son of his times Luther naturally held, and in part continued to hold, views concerning the devil and his activities which went far beyond anything that Scripture tells us on the subject. …”

The question we should like to explore here for a moment is whether there is scriptural support for Luther’s view that the devil is “God’s executioner,” that is, that when God sends misfortune, He does it through the devil. Key quotations from Luther would include Nos. 1183 and 1184 in What Luther Says.

Does the case of Job support Luther’s generalization? Hardly. Here we have a particular case in which God specifically grants permission to Satan to afflict Job exactly as far as, and not one whit further than, God permits. We are assured of God’s absolute sovereignty over the devil, and of the gracious purpose He carries out in permitting His own to undergo severe trials. See James 5:11. II Cor. 12:7 likewise refers to a particular case.

But what about Luke 13:10-17?

In his This Is Luther, Ewald Plass quotes from a letter that Luther wrote to Wenzel Link: “Physicians may attribute such things to natural causes and sometimes partly cure them by medicine, but they are ignorant of the power of devils. Christ did not hesitate to say in the gospel that the old woman bowed down with infirmity was bound by Satan [Luke 13:16] … so I am forced to believe that many are made dumb, deaf, and lame by Satan’s malice, nor can I doubt that pestilence, fever, and other severe illnesses are caused by devils, who also bring on tempests, conflagrations, and blights in fruit and grain. What wonder if these wicked angels scourge the human race with all kinds of harm and peril as much as God permits! If some are cured by herbs and other natural remedies, it is by God’s mercy.” (pp. 109-110)

The case referred to by Luther is variously treated by commentaries. This is hardly surprising inasmuch as it seems to be neither normal illness, since a “spirit” is mentioned and since Jesus explicitly ascribes her condition to Satan (v. 16), nor demon possession, since things that demon possession usually entailed are conspicuous by their absence.

Theodor Zahn, in taking the view that the woman was ill, refers to Acts 10:38 and II Cor. 12:7 as proof that sickness generally is to be ascribed to the devil. Lenski, on the other hand, argues for possession, and dismisses Acts 10:38 and II Cor. 12:7 as inadequate proof for Zahn’s view. Others, very sensibly, it seems to me, recognize another category. The footnote on p. 50 of Vol. IV of Rudolf Stier’s The Words of the Lord Jesus (1856) has this: “Braune thinks it [‘spirit of infirmity’] a ‘strange expression’; but it is perfectly in accordance with a condition, which was neither natural sickness nor the customary possession. The Lord never laid His hands upon the actually possessed, as here, ver. 13.” In his volume on Luke in the Concordia Commentary, Arthur Just refers to “the evil spirit causing weakness” (p. 540). “Influence” rather than “possession” is spoken of by some commentators: “Through the influence of an evil spirit of infirmity” is the wording used by Norval Geldenhuys (New International Commentary on the New Testament).

Thus this verse also is not necessarily legitimately used as evidence that, as a general rule, God sends sickness, or other types of misfortune, through the devil.

On the other hand, passages that actually militate against this view include not only the many accounts of evils being attributed directly to God Himself, but also such passages as Is. 45:7 and Amos 3:6. “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city, has not the Lord done it?”


There is no treatment of Luke 13:10-17 in Werner Franzmann’s three-volume Bible history commentary. Our surprise upon discovering this prompted us to inquire, with the result that we learned that Franzmann’s original assignment was to comment on what was treated in the WELS Bible History course. The freedom he had to go beyond that, which he used many times, was evidently not used in this case.

A passage of interest in connection with this topic is I Thess. 2:18 (“and yet Satan thwarted us”). How much can we safely infer from this particular case about a general agency of the devil in disrupting travel plans?

Lenski takes the phrase in Acts 10:38, “all who were oppressed by the devil,” narrowly, as referring only to cases of demon possession, whereas others (e.g., Zahn), take it as including all sickness. Luther is also quoted in support of that view: “Luther: ‘All whom Jesus healed were oppressed by the devil.’” (Richard C. Jahn, “The Doctrine of the Angels,” The Abiding Word, Vol. III, p. 211. Jahn provides much interesting information, but, incredibly, he also expresses the view that Paul (II Cor. 12:7) and Job were victims of bodily possession (p. 213).)

* * * * * * * *

Sometime after the birth of Christ, a group of wise men “from the East” arrived in Jerusalem, looking for Him who had been born “King of the Jews.” Just where had they come from? According to J. Ylvisaker, in his The Gospels, some early church fathers as well as later scholars believed they came from Arabia. Others have placed their starting point in the regions of the Euphrates River, and Ylvisaker considers this to be the more reasonable conjecture.

He writes (p. 93): “The magi might have learned of the hope of Israel in these regions, especially from the traditions that still lingered after the Babylonian captivity. … Ezekiel, who had been carried off in bondage, 598 B.C., had prophesied chiefly for and among the Jews, although some of the seed must have lodged in Gentile soil. Ezekiel was succeeded by Daniel, who was a person of influence at the Babylonian, and, later, at the Persian court. The wise men may have learned of the hope of Israel through the Septuagint, which was easily accessible in the homes of the many Jews dwelling in those regions. They declare that they had seen the star of the newborn King in the East. They were awaiting the arrival of a new King in Judea, who should belong also to the Gentiles.”

It seems reasonable to assume that they had indeed come from Babylon. What a long and tedious journey this must have involved. It must have required months, the means of transportation undoubtedly being camels. And what was the object of their trip and their search? An infant, born in the most lowly and humble circumstances imaginable. And when they finally found Him, they bowed down and worshiped Him. Could these men actually be considered wise? Was it not rather the depth of foolishness to make such an arduous journey just to find a baby belonging to one of the poorest families in the land, and then to fall down and worship it?

Ah, no. It was a display of the highest wisdom. By the grace of God, these Gentiles discerned in the Child their savior, and they must have rejoiced greatly when they found Him and were privileged to worship Him and give gifts to Him. Let us spend a few moments considering how different their wisdom was from the wisdom of this world.

The wisdom of this world comes in a variety of forms. Different classes of people have different ideas of what constitutes wisdom. Some think it consists in pursuing an abundance of earthly possessions, in getting rich and storing up treasure on earth in the form of huge bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and various kinds of property, and then in luxuriously enjoying their accumulated wealth. What fools they are! Ultimately it will all go up in smoke. And those governed by such “wisdom” will even lose their own souls.

The wisdom of others consists in extracting as much pleasure out of life as possible, in gratifying the lust of the eyes, in indulging in the lusts of the flesh (I John 2:16), in eating and drinking and partying and carousing. Such are indeed to be pitied. Those who sow to the flesh shall reap corruption (Gal. 6:8).

Then there are those who think that the highest wisdom consists in gaining praise and honor and glory and fame, in being highly esteemed among men, in making a “success” out of life, and in being able to boast of their accomplishments, and who then bask in the adulation received. For these proud ones God has nothing but loathing. “The Lord detests all the proud of heart,” Prov. 16:5.

Of a slightly different stripe are those who, in their self-righteousness and exalted opinion of themselves, want to try to make the world a better place in which to live by “doing good” and helping the “poor.” In self-conceit, they presume to uplift others (whether they want to be “uplifted” or not), to manipulate others, and to be others’ keepers. Then they take pride in what they flatter themselves that they have all done. They are totally ignorant of the fact that anything that is not done out of faith in Jesus Christ is sin, and would be highly offended if they were told this.

Many believe that there is nothing wiser than to live what they imagine to be a moral and upright life. They take pride in the fact that they never killed anyone, never committed the act of adultery, never robbed anyone, never got drunk, etc., and that they pay their bills and contribute to their church and to charity. They take no account of the filth and corruption in their hearts. Do they think that because other people can’t see into their minds and hearts that God can’t either? They are confident that their outwardly upstanding life and their imagined sterling character deserve to be richly rewarded by God. There are as many of these pharisees today as there were in the time of Christ. What an unutterably great shock is in store for them!

Then there are those, known as philosophers, who, on the strength of their own reason, try to delve into questions of the origin, meaning, and destiny of all things. They set up elaborate systems of thought, trying to explain things that are beyond the grasp of the human intellect, while rejecting the only source that has the true explanation for everything. We are well aware from all the evolutionary propaganda with which we are surrounded how preposterous and totally contrary to common sense are some of the ideas that these thinkers propose. Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools (Rom. 1:22).

Finally, let us glance at the modern “theologians,” who evidently consider themselves supremely wise, wiser even than God, and who set themselves up as judges over His Word, arrogantly deciding what is truth and what is myth and fable. To them the incarnation, the virgin birth, the miracles, salvation by grace through faith in the atonement accomplished by Christ on the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension are inventions and not worthy to be considered true by modern-day scholarship. To them the message of the cross is foolishness. But the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world, and by the foolishness of the preaching of Christ crucified He saves those who believe (I Cor. 1:18-31).

All such highly vaunted wisdom of the world originates in the erring and depraved minds of the children of the devil; it leads to eternal separation from God. But true wisdom, despised and rejected by the haughty and self-righteous, originates in the mind of God and leads to eternal fellowship with Him. It is not the product of our own ingenuity.

This wisdom from above consists in humility, in knowing our limitations, in knowing that “we know nothing until we know nothing” (G.K. Chesterton), in trusting in the Lord with all our heart and not relying on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). It consists in not setting ourselves up above others, in esteeming others better than ourselves, in serving and helping our neighbor instead of trying to lord it over him. It “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” James 3:17 (see the context of this verse for its discussion of two kinds of wisdom). The smaller we become in our own sight, the greater we become in the sight of God.

True wisdom is shown in submitting ourselves to God and His Word, in acknowledging our utter sinfulness and unworthiness, and in falling down at the foot of the cross, thankfully accepting the cure there provided for our loathsome disease. It results in storing up treasure in heaven instead of on earth, and in cultivating a childlike trust in our Heavenly Father to take care of us and provide us with everything we need. It is characterized by living unto Him who gave Himself for us, by refusing to join the world in its sinful pleasures, and by being willing because of that to be considered a fool (I Peter 4:2-4).

True wisdom, in short, is the reverse of so much that the world believes to be wisdom. And it begins with joining the wise men, putting aside everything else, and worshiping the Child born in Bethlehem.

For here is the One through whom the all-wise God’s plan of salvation was effected. Here is the One who is Himself endowed with the wisdom sufficient to bring the enormous task to completion. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,” Is. 11:2. Here is the One who is greater, also in wisdom, than that wisest of men, King Solomon. “For she [the Queen of Sheba] came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here,” Luke 11:31.

At the wisdom of Jesus (which was manifest already in youth: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,” Luke 2:52), many were absolutely astounded. Mt. 13:54: “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” John 7:15: “The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’” John 7:46: “’No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards declared.”

One has to marvel at the wisdom of Jesus in the way He confounded the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees in their repeated efforts to entrap Him. These well-known attempts at trickery include such questions as whether to pay taxes to Caesar, which of the seven husbands that a certain woman had on earth she would be married to in heaven, whether it was permitted to heal on the Sabbath, what to do with the woman taken in adultery, and others.

Finally, after He had turned the tables with the question, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” (Mt. 22:41), “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask Him any more questions,” v. 46. Anyone today who, after reading all such accounts, still rejects the claim of Jesus to divinity is manifesting a blindness and hardness similar to that of the Jews who finally managed to get Him crucified. The day will come when they will realize, with horror, what fools they were.

We cannot sufficiently thank God for granting unto us the wisdom that He gave to the wise men. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven,” Mt. 16:17. Nor can we sufficiently thank that Heavenly Father for being ready to respond bountifully and unstintingly when we ask for wisdom in its various forms. When Solomon, turning away from various attractive things, appealed to God for wisdom in serving as king of God’s people, did he not receive it in extraordinary measure? And did not James write as follows to all who need wisdom in connection with undergoing trials? “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (1:5).

May we, with the confidence born of possession, by grace, of the gift of Christ and His salvation, ever have recourse to our Heavenly Father, and to nothing or no one else, for the wisdom necessary to complete safely our walk through this benighted world. May our journey be carried on, from beginning to end, on our knees, in adoration of Christ. May we, holding ourselves aloof from the world’s foolishness, thus show the way whereby others may come into possession of true wisdom.

• * * * * *

1) The overriding theme of Old Testament prophecy, right from the beginning (Gen. 3:15), is the coming of the Savior. Num. 24:17; Is. 7:14; Is. 53; Micah 5:2.

2) The line of the Savior is thus kept constantly before our eyes. Note especially the promise to David and the assurances of the permanence of his house. II Sam. 7; Ps. 89; I Kings 11:34; II Chron. 21:7; Is. 37:35.

3) While it is well known that the people of the Savior, the Children of Israel, is the subject of virtually all of Old Testament Bible history, the manner in which this people is treated in prophecy is commonly overlooked or distorted. Very simply, the true people of God is spiritual, not fleshly, even as Isaac was a child, not of the flesh, but of promise. Rom. 2:28-29, 9:6ff.; Gal. 3:7 & 29, 4:28; Phil. 3:3.

4) Thus, on the one hand, the end of the physical nation of Israel is repeatedly the subject of prophecy. This includes the end of its law, the razing of its temple, and the destruction of its capital city. Is. 66:6; Amos 9:1; II Cor. 3:11ff.; Mt. 27:51; Luke 19:41-44; Mt. 22:7, 23:33ff., 24:2, 26:64; Luke 21:20ff., 23:28-31; I Thess. 2:16.

5) On the other hand, passage after passage dwells on the new and glorious people from across the world that replaces the Old Testament nation of Israel. Is. 54:1-3, 60:1-9, 65:1, 66:7-8; Hosea 1:10; Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:14ff.; Eph. 2-3; Rom. 9-11; Acts 13:46-48; Mt. 21:43.

6) Nothing in Scripture equals Daniel 9:24-27 in its concise and powerful statement both of the arrival and work of the Savior, which is the great goal of the existence of the earthly nation of Israel, and of the fearful judgment to fall upon the people and its city at about that time.

7) Since God kept sparing Israel solely for the sake of the coming Savior, to teach Israel’s continued existence as God’s chosen people is to teach that the Savior has not yet come.

Of the many end-time scenarios with their almost infinite variations that have been proposed to our bewildered view today, perhaps the most prominent and popular is the following:

Prior to the 70th week of Daniel, the “rapture” of the church will take place. That is, all believers will be snatched out of this world. Then will follow a seven-year period at the midpoint of which the antichrist will break the covenant he had previously made with the Jews. The indescribable destruction and persecution portrayed in Revelation and elsewhere will then be unleashed in the final three and a half years, leading to the battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ for his thousand-year earthly rule.

This view shatters on the following truths:

1) The Bible does not teach a rapture. (Nor does it even teach a thousand-year earthly rule of Christ.) The “proof” passage, I Thess. 4:15-17, deals exclusively with the end of the world, and does not separate the joining of the saints with their Lord Jesus from His second and final coming. (Note the following from Dictionary of Christianity in America, under “Rapture of the Church”: “All premillennialists trace the doctrine to the same passage (I Thess. 4:15-17) but disagree on when it will occur in relation to the tribulation period, which they identify as the ‘seventieth week’ of Daniel 9:24-27.”)

2) It is an act of unspeakable violence to Holy Scripture to tear Daniel 9:27 from its context, as the advocates of this view do, and take it as referring to events centuries, even millennia, later than the period of time under discussion in the context.

3) At His first coming, Christ succeeded most wonderfully and perfectly in completing His missions of destroying the devil’s kingdom (by His death on the cross, through which He atoned for the sins of the world, and by His triumphant resurrection) and also, upon ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father and to assume rule over all things, of establishing His New Testament Church (pouring out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost). “To do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur,” Acts 4:28.

But according to the rapture view, Christ actually failed in His mission at His first coming, resulting in the prolonged parenthetical period of the church before the projected successful coming to establish His kingdom. Thus what God greatly magnifies in His Word – the events of Christ’s first coming – man minimizes. Indeed, the preoccupation with the alleged sequence of end-time events is alone enough to sideline and withdraw from our view the saving work accomplished by Christ at His first coming. This alone marks the rapture view as satanic in its effects.

4) The Antichrist is a religious entity, not a political one, as it is in the rapture scenario. Dn. 7:20-25; II Thess. 2:1-12; Rev. 13:11ff. More generally: According to Scripture, Christ’s work and His true people and His great opponent (Antichrist) are all spiritual. Christ’s work is necessarily externalized, and thus destroyed, not only directly by teaching an earthly rule, but also indirectly by externalizing either His true people, or His great opponent, or both.

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” I Cor. 2:2. “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?”, Gal. 3:1.

For important information
on the history and
promotion of the
rapture view, see the
books and articles by
Dave MacPherson,
including The Incredible Cover-Up and
The Rapture Plot.

Examining The People’s Bible and I Peter 3:18

In a splendid article first published in the July 1979 issue of the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly and subsequently included in the 1991 NPH anthology, Our Great Heritage (Vol. II, pp. 555-570), Prof. Siegbert Becker explained that in Rom. 1:3, I Tim. 3:16, and I Peter 3:18, “flesh” refers essentially to Jesus’ state of humiliation and “spirit” to His state of exaltation. Thus, Becker writes of I Peter 3:18: “We are now … prepared to define what Peter meant when he said that Christ was made alive ‘in spirit.’ It does not mean that somehow he was now divorced from flesh, or from his body. But he was raised in that spiritual state in which his body was no longer subject to the natural laws that govern all material things nor to all the natural ills to which the flesh is heir because of the fall into sin. … In this new state, or mode of existence, he then descended into hell to preach to the spirits in prison” (pp. 561-62).

A different view is presented in Pastor Mark Jeske’s volume on I Peter in The People’s Bible of the Wisconsin Synod. “The NIV’s footnote, however, probably provides a better way to translate the verses [I Peter 3:18-19]: ‘He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit, through which he went and preached ….’ This would show that Christ’s descent into hell occurred before the resurrection of his body and was a descent in spirit.” What is one to think of this?

The death that Jesus suffered was, as our physical death will be, a separation of soul and body. Jesus’ soul did not die. He Himself said: “Father, into your hands I commend My spirit.” The dead body was placed into the tomb.

But the very fact that we acknowledge that Jesus’ spirit never died makes it nonsensical to speak, as the commentary does, of being made alive in that spirit. To make alive must involve what was dead – the body. The spirit didn’t need to be made alive. The body needed to be made alive through reunion with the spirit.

But what is really astounding is that we are thus left with a descent into hell carried out by Jesus when his body was in the grave. What kind of victory can be proclaimed under those circumstances? “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins,” I Cor. 15:17. Though it doesn’t use those exact words, it seems undeniable that a WELS commentary sets forth the view that Jesus descended into hell when He was dead.


“Why did our Lord descend into hell? To proclaim His victory over sin, death, Satan, and hell. He did that after He rose but before He appeared on earth; that is why the descent is mentioned before the resurrection in the Creed.” (Dr. John Drickamer, The Echo of Truth – A Handbook of Christian Teaching, 1997; p. 22)
“We believe that the unnamed writer of the article on ‘Christ’s Descent into Hell’ in the Concordia Cyclopedia of 1927 made a very cogent point when he reasons: ‘If Christ had made the descent while his body was in the power of death, it could not have been a triumphant descent’ (emphases ours).” (Our Great Heritage, Vol. II, p. 576; the essay from which this is taken, “Christ’s Descent into Hell,” by Pastor Gerhard Struck, was delivered at a Michigan pastoral conference and then published in Nos. 2-3 of the 1960 Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly before being included in Our Great Heritage.)
A detailed discussion of the sermon by Luther on Christ’s descent into hell that is referred to by our Formula of Concord in its ninth article, together with a translation of that sermon, appears in the 2003-3 issue of Logia. This is an impressive piece of scholarship. The translators, in their 162 footnotes, take issue at times with the translation of this sermon that appears in Sources and Contexts of the Book of Concord, edited by Robert Kolb and James Nestingen (Augsburg Fortress; 2001).

Our discovery of this passage in The People’s Bible was accidental. Inquiries we have subsequently made of other WELS clergymen have generally brought expressions of disagreement with what Pastor Jeske wrote. We even contacted Pastor Jeske himself, but he did not retreat from what he had written.

Northwestern Lutheran, March 12, 1950, p. 86
A new Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which bodes no good to our country is on its way through the legislative mill at Washington. Under the typically shrill pressure of feminine enthusiasts, it has passed the Senate by a vote of 63 to 19.
Promoted by certain women who ‘want to be persons now because we still are not persons in the Constitution,’ the amendment reads: ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.’
One would judge that the Amendment as passed really makes more than mere persons of women. For the Senate attached a rider stating that nothing in the amendment would change any ‘rights, benefits or exemptions now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex.’ So the status of women would [not?] be that of [mere?] persons, but better. They retain peculiar protection not accorded an ordinary mortal.
Christian citizens, we trust, will through their Representatives resist passage of the Amendment. It is: a) ridiculous; b) a threat of law against the divine order observed in our midst which forbids the right of the woman to speak in the Church (I Cor. 14:34; I Tim. 2:12); c) an insult to the Creator who expressly disavows the ‘equality’ claims of fanatical females. (I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24)

April 23, 1950, p. 126
In an Atlantic Monthly article he states that our public schools today are controlled by what he calls academic ‘quackery.’ He takes a very dim view of the average quality of public school instructors, but asserts that the fault lies, not with the teachers, parents or school boards, but with ‘the super-professionals who determine the kind of education to which your child must submit … the professors of education in the larger universities and teachers’ colleges.’ The chief failing which Mr. Lynd sees in public education is the lack of ‘culture,’ both in the pupils and in the teachers. This is allegedly to be attributed to the professors in the schools which train teachers … schools which Mr. Lynd calls ‘intellectual bargain basements.’

Nov. 18, 1951, p. 358
Most men listen to themselves and to other men, and the noise of human chatter fills our air. The quiet hour of meditation with the Bible in hand is so strange an experience that many cannot stand it at all. They never want to be alone with God. They become radio and television addicts because silence is unbearable.

Feb. 24, 1952, p. 52
But such is the Great American Illusion – that the mere acknowledgment of the existence of a Supreme Being constitutes faith in God and is therefore a true rejection of communism and all that it represents. We call it an American illusion, not because it is peculiar to our country, but because here it receives its most vigorous expression and has reached a position of high influence. It is the militant force in lodgery, Scoutism and the unionistic movements among the churches, a force which masquerades as true Christianity but is nursed at the breast of unbelief.

From a 1944 sermon on I Kings 6:7:
I fear that there are some for whom their own treatment begins when they come to Sunday service and ends when they leave. How many of us still prepare ourselves at home for the services? Do we come with repentant hearts to church, or do we expect that here our hearts should quickly be made to repent, perhaps through the sermon? Oh, my friends, it does not actually work that way in life; our hearts should be repentant through the Word that was preached to us last time we were in church or read the Word at home. And when we are here this time, the Word of God is to affect us during the week to come, where God does the grinding and polishing.
How needful that we prepare our hearts to receive the Word before we come to Sunday Services – and after we return to our homes, that we allow the Word to work in us! The danger of Sunday Christians is just this, that they expect all the good work to be done in them on Sunday morning in one hour. If they live by that hope, they will never be fitted into the walls of Zion.
(Vol. III of Selected Sermons of E. Schaller, p. 120)

Notes on a theological fiction

This modest excursion into a bit of church history is structured around a number of key quotations.

BACK TO THE Our first quotation is from Martin Luther.
SOURCE “Our usurers, gluttons, drunkards, whore- zz mongers, blasphemers, and scoffers shouldn’t be excommunicated by us. They excommunicate themselves. They despise the Word of God, enter no church, hear no sermon, receive no sacrament. If they don’t want to be Christians, let them be heathen, and forever! Who cares about this anyhow? If they take the goods of ministers and appropriate everything for themselves, the minister shouldn’t absolve them or administer the sacrament to them. They shouldn’t be allowed to attend any baptism, any honorable wedding, or any funeral. They should behave among us as heathen, which they’ll be glad to do! When they are dying, no minister or chaplain should visit them, and when they have died the hangman should drag them outside the town to the carrion pit, and no student or chaplain should escort them. If they want to be heathen we’ll treat them as heathen.” (American Edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. 54 (Table Talk), pp. 422-423)

The question naturally arises: What could possibly account for the fact that Luther speaks of excommunicating oneself? The answer is doubtless to be found in the fact that real congregational church discipline such as we know it was something to which early Lutheranism had not attained. The following brief quotations make this point.

“A congregation may still be a Christian congregation, where excommunication does not exist. This was true in Luther’s day.” (Pastoral Theology, Prof. Arthur E. Graf, p. 13) “It was Luther’s full intention that the congregations should themselves through representatives assume responsibility for, and participate in, church discipline. But their moral and spiritual condition made such an arrangement unfeasible and it is hardly mentioned in the Lutheran church constitutions of the Reformation period.” (“Church Discipline” in Encyclopedia of Lutheranism) “Luther had not been able to establish a well-instructed congregation that was able to govern itself and carry out discipline in doctrine and life according to God’s Word.” (The Wauwatosa Theology, Vol. III, p. 256)

Still another relevant quotation is found on p. 165 of The Political Thought of Martin Luther, by W.D.J. Cargill Thompson: “Thus it is interesting to note that when in the 1530s Luther experimented rather tentatively with the revival of church discipline and excommunication, one of the earliest cases in which he resorted to excommunication was one in which a Wittenberg citizen was held to have exacted an extortionate price for a house he had sold. For Luther this constituted usury.”

It is well to remember that certain blessings of church life that we easily take for granted, such as separation of church and state or the proper conducting of matters of church discipline, were present only to quite a limited degree in early Lutheranism.

WALTHER The foregoing quotation referring to self-excommuni- z cation along with another passage from Luther are quoted by C.F.W. Walther on a page of his pastoral theology (p. 347, 4th edition, 1890) on which a number of erroneous ideas are set forth: a. Someone who refuses to honor a congregation’s summons to appear before it for the final admonition cannot be excommunicated. b. I John 2:19 is used to support the concept of self-exclusion. (Earlier, on p. 338, it is even used to support the concept of self-excommunication.) c. Even the concept of self-excommunication is defended.

There is an opportunity here to make a very direct connection with a portion of our conference, our two congregations in the La Crosse, Wis., area. For a very brief time, they had as their pastor Dr. John Drickamer, whose impressive and valuable theological output includes an abridged translation of Walther’s work on pastoral theology. To illustrate most of the above comments on Walther, we can quote the following from Drickamer (p. 250): “If the one summoned states that he will absolutely not appear, he is not to be excommunicated since the final admonition, which is necessary according to Matt. 18:17, cannot be carried out. He has also already excluded himself from the congregation. It should be stated publicly from the pulpit that he has excluded himself from the congregation and the brotherhood and is to be treated as one who is outside (I John 2:19). [Walther cites Luther, Tischreden [Table Talk], XXII, 974f.; and Erlangen, LIV, pp. 317f.]” Note also the following on p. 247: “Therefore excommunication cannot be carried out in the cases of … people … who do not want to be brothers, who have left the congregation themselves and so have excommunicated themselves (I John 2:19).”

Before we leave Dr. Drickamer, we want to point out that he was one of the three editors of C.F.W. Walther – The American Luther, a collection of essays, published in 1987, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Walther’s death in 1887. This is a fabulous introduction to the work of an extraordinary gift of God to His Church, one whose many writings and sermons are edifying in the highest degree. One of the chapters contains an absorbing account of the difficulties that Walther encountered as a result of the war between the states.

And before leaving Walther, we want to mention that quite recently we were still able to secure from Anchor Publications, operated by people who are in the LCR, for only 50 cents per copy the 78-page 1964 edition of his lectures on Communism and Socialism that were initially delivered to First German Ev. Lutheran Congregation of St. Louis, first translated by Rev. D. Simon and published in 1879 (CPH), and then republished in 1947 by the Lutheran Research Society. Rev. Lyle D. Rusert of Bethel, Minn., writes in its foreword: “In an earnest effort to arouse and inform mankind today a few pastors determined to republish once more the booklet that was formerly republished in 1947 ….” On p. 24, Walther states: “The efforts of the socialists and communists are in conflict with definite doctrines of Christianity, to wit: (a) the doctrines of personal property, as involved in the seventh commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ and taught elsewhere in Scripture.” This is followed by a listing of seven other doctrines.

FOLLOWERS In his error of relying too much on Luther at OF WALTHER this particular point, Walther was unfortunately z followed by many others. This is reflected, for example, in the section on self-exclusion in that stupendous work of reference and digest of early Missouri and Synodical Conference literature, Eckhardt’s Reallexikon (1907). The last paragraph invites special attention: “The expression, ‘He excommunicated himself,’ is only to be used where a mortal sin is involved …. Such a one [who has excommunicated himself] is just as much under excommunication as if the excommunication had been carried out by the congregation.” A state of excommunication is inferred, though excommunication is not pronounced. From the correct premise that you really had an excommunication, the conclusion should have been drawn that it was a mistake on their part to state that the congregation couldn’t act if its summons were ignored. Instead, the figment of self-excommunication was employed.

Prof. A.L. Graebner was another outstanding Missouri Synod theologian and prolific writer. (His Outlines of Doctrinal Theology (1910, CPH) was recommended to us as seminary students. In 1980, under the title Fundamentalist Theology, a paperback reprint of this with a preface and notes by Gary Branscome was published. It is available from Anchor Publications.) But he too helped to perpetuate Walther’s error. Under the heading, “Outlines of Pastoral Theology,” Graebner translated the theses in Walther’s pastoral theology in the first two issues of the first volume (1897) of the Theological Quarterly. Thus we find the following in the April issue (No. 2, p. 213): “Excommunication, therefore, can not be executed … upon … 3, such as, no longer willing to be brethren, have of their own accord left the congregation and thus, as the case may be, excommunicated themselves (I John 2:19) ….”

Even Carl Manthey-Zorn, perhaps most familiar to us from his devotional book, Manna, though not using terminology about self-excommunication, once wrote (Questions on Christian Topics, p. 225): “But what if the offender fails to appear before the Church, what if he gives the Church no opportunity to deal with him, declaring that he wants nothing more to do with the Church? In that case, indeed, he cannot really be excommunicated. In that case he has excluded himself from the Church and the latter has nothing more to do with him. But the Church shall, through its pastor, give public notice that he, being a manifest and impenitent sinner, has excluded himself from the Church and every Christian shall regard and treat him as a heathen and a publican and shall treat him precisely as if he were excommunicated. For seeing he even refused to hear what the congregation had to say to him, the Word of the Lord surely applies to him: ‘If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.'”

This last statement, of course, is correct. And what properly follows from that is well stated in Schuetze-Habeck, The Shepherd Under Christ (NPH, 1974, p. 177): “If the sinner has refused to heed the summons to appear before the church to hear its testimony, this refusal is the evidence of his impenitence which becomes the basis for excommunication.” (And on the same page: “The term ‘self-excommunication’ is inaccurate.”) Why didn’t Zorn realize how strange it was that an excommunication had taken place even though no excommunication had taken place?!

More of the same can be found in E.J. Otto’s chapter, “Church Discipline,” in Vol. II of the well-known anthology, The Abiding Word (see p. 556), and in the 1960 CPH book by various authors, The Pastor At Work (see p. 74).

On the one hand, the correct concept of excommunication had by no means been lost, as can be seen from the definition given in the 1927 Concordia Cyclopedia: “Excommunication is the judicial exclusion of unrepentant sinners from the rights and privileges of the communion of saints. According to Christ’s words in Matt. 18, this act of exclusion is a duty to be performed by the Christian congregation when the offender has shown himself unresponsive to admonition ….” On the other hand, mistaken terminology had become entrenched to an alarming extent, finding its way even into some congregational constitutions. And it is baffling, but true, that Prof. Francis Pieper used “self-excommunication” to refer to falling from faith in a short item on self-excommunication that he wrote on p. 312 of the April 1930 (Vol. I, No. 4) issue of the Concordia Theological Monthly.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that in the well-known Cincinnati case of a century ago that gave such great impetus to the discussion of Church and Ministry in the Synodical Conference, Mr. Schlueter, the individual who ended up at loggerheads with his congregation over the issue of where he would be sending his son to school, “was classed as one who had excommunicated himself.” (J.P. Koehler, The History of the Wisconsin Synod, 1970, p. 233)

JOHN SCHALLER AND With truly laudable clarity, Prof. OUR KEY QUOTATION John Schaller of the Wisconsin z Synod wrote as follows in his 1913 pastoral theology (p. 107; translation made by the undersigned): “Among us it is not uncommon to make a distinction between the real excommunication and the declaration that the individual concerned has excluded himself from the congregation (‘self-exclusion’). In other words, it is stated that the sinner has refused to answer to the congregation for his sin – perhaps by not having come to the meeting. The distinction is inexact since actually only such an one can be excommunicated who has excluded himself from the Christian congregation through continued impenitence. Moreover, the distinction is also unnecessary since at bottom this judgment is the same as excommunication: a declaration that he is impenitent (Mt. 18:17b). Even more unfortunately chosen is the expression, ‘self-excommunication,’ a contradictio in adjecto [a contradiction in the adjective], since excommunication in its very nature can only be pronounced by another person.” This is the death-blow also for self-exclusion. (In the last sentence Schaller’s use of the Latin phrase means that adding “self” to “excommunication” is comparable to speaking of cold heat.)

What is at stake? Since excommunication is intended to rescue souls (cf. I Cor. 5 and II Cor. 2), refraining from carrying it out on the grounds that an individual has done it to himself can result in the loss of souls.

THE We now put this in a broader framework WAUWATOSA using excerpts from an article by Pastor THEOLOGY Winfred Schaller Jr. in the Lutheran zz Spokesman of the CLC (November 1965), “Remember the Days of Old – IV, The Wisconsin Heritage.”

Schaller wrote as follows of the work – which came to be called the “Wauwatosa Theology” or “Wauwatosa Gospel,” so named because of the location of the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary – of seminary professors J.P. Koehler, August Pieper, and John Schaller during the first decades of the twentieth century (pp. 12-13): “But during these years the energies of these men were directed to creative gospel work. The Quartalschrifts of this period contain some of the best theology since Luther’s day. … They brought fresh light from the Scripture on every doctrinal problem. They did not give pat answers. They cheerfully disagreed with Luther and Walther and any other church father, when this was necessary. Above all, they brought self criticism into the Synodical Conference and removed all idols from their illegitimate thrones. … The truthful witness of these men fills the pages of the Wisconsin theological journal of those years. The articles shine with the light of truth as they treat of the legal spirit in the churches, institutional and organizational sickness, the inroads of Calvinism, or when they show forth the mysteries of the Kingdom, the beauties of the Lutheran congregational hymn, the meaning and value of parochial schools.”

Are any of these materials, originally written mostly in German, available to us today? Happily, the answer is yes. For in 1997, Northwestern Publishing House finally published, in the three-volume set of which Curt Jahn was the compiling editor, The Wauwatosa Theology, 50 articles or papers from the pens of Koehler, Pieper, and Schaller. Almost immediately, extensive work was put into publication of additional such articles in a fourth volume. At one time, the projected publication date for this volume was early in 2001. My most recent inquiry, which, in keen anticipation, I have made every year or so, has brought the answer that publication has now been pushed back until at least 2011. Among other things, the publishing house must reckon with the fact that it generally does not make any money on projects that involve translated material. Extra expense is involved; prospective buyers are not large in number.

The interest of our own conference in this material is shown by the fact that John Schaller’s article on the kingdom of God was used by one of the teachers when our seminary classes were being held in the early years of our joint work, and that his article on the New Testament ministry was reviewed in two of our RLC meetings. Perhaps there are individuals who might consider acquiring this set, especially since most of the first 100 pages provides a detailed look at the Wauwatosa Theology: “The Wauwatosa Theology: The Men and Their Message,” by Martin O. Westerhaus. Many of our readers are doubtless familiar with one or another edition of Schaller’s Book of Books (the 1990 edition was revised in 2002). Concerning this Westerhaus writes (p 81): “His Kurze Biblekunde, an isagogics text or introduction to the Bible written for his students in New Ulm [where Schaller taught for many years], was to my knowledge the first college textbook produced by a Wisconsin Synod professor. It appeared in an English translation under the title Book of Books in 1918.”

Since the Northwestern Publishing House editor in charge of the projected fourth volume of articles informed me, in a 2001 communication, what was slated for inclusion and gave me permission to use the information at my discretion, there seems to be no reason not to include that information here. (The primary translator in this, as in the first three volumes, is Pastor James Langebartels.)

There are six articles by Koehler: “Holy Scripture as the Basis of All Theology,” “Something About the Antichrist and the Battle Against Him,” “The Fashioning of the Papacy in the Ancient Church by the Power Striving of the Roman Bishops,” “The Externalism of the Papacy Versus Luther’s Spiritual Work of reformation,” “Music,” and a review of the very book on pastoral theology from which our key quotation above has been taken.

There are seven articles by Pieper: “False Doctrinal Authorities in the Lutheran Church,” “Toward an Understanding of the Current Discussion on Church and Ministry,” “Our Transition into English,” “The Judgment of God on the Ungodly According to Rom. 1:18-32,” “The Marburg Colloquy,” “What is the ‘Other’ Spirit of Which Luther Reproached the Zwinglians?”, and “Why Doesn’t Our Preaching Get More Results?”. Many will recognize the last title because it has been on our conference agenda as the result of a copy’s reaching the desk of Pastor Dommer through private circulation about five years ago.

And there are five articles by Schaller: “The Human Side of Holy Scripture,” “Gospel Justification Faith,” “Thoughts on Ecclesiastical Union,” “On the Recognition of a Christian Congregation’s Sentence of Excommunication,” and “Luther’s Position on the Doctrine of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.” The initial set had 15 Koehler items, 28 Pieper items, and 7 Schaller items.

But to return. The specific point we wish to make is that Schaller’s well-deserved stricture against “self-excommunication,” though apparently not widely known today, deserves recognition as a fine example of one important aspect of the Wauwatosa Theology – freeing oneself from an error inherited from one’s theological forebears. This was the discovery that resulted from wrestling with the question of what to do about the unacceptable wording regarding self-excommunication found in the constitution of one of the congregations of the Lutheran Conference of Confessional Fellowship (LCCF), Faith Congregation of Sanborn, Minn., But now we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Although things eventually developed to the point where I was informed by one WELS pastor serving on a district constitutional committee that wording about self-excommunication in the constitution of a congregation applying for synodical membership would not be accepted, this was preceded by some very unfortunate, indeed profoundly tragic, developments, as illustrated by what follows.

SYNODICAL SUSPENSION “In short, it [a suspension enacted by a
A general rule synodical president] is essentially the
A specific case same as excommunication, that is to
z say, if one wishes to put it concretely, exclusion from the church for obvious lack of repentance over obvious sins or for stubborn, firmly held false doctrine.” (Prof. August Pieper, as translated by Carl Springer on p. 18 of the March/April 1987 Faith-Life; first published in 1911 in the Quartalschrift in the article, “Human Domination in the Church.”) Advancement of this outlandish view understandably generated considerable dissension in the synod. Ultimately, decades later, it seems to have been tacitly rejected. But one wonders whether it might possibly have been a factor later in delaying the Wisconsin Synod’s break with the Missouri. For we are well aware how Prof. Egbert Schaller, in his important article on Matthew 18 in the third issue (June 1961) of the CLC’s Journal of Theology, deplored the evidence that Rom. 16:17 and Matthew 18 were being commonly intermingled when an answer was being sought to the question of how to view the Missouri Synod.

But as surprising as is the setting forth of this general rule, an even bigger surprise is in store. If you were asked whether a church body could ever declare at an end its fellowship with numerous pastors, with some in the church body believing that excommunications had been enacted and others not so convinced, you would immediately declare that such a thing is simply too preposterous to imagine. Yet that is exactly what happened in the Wisconsin Synod a generation before the CLC was established. That brings us to our specific case.

A series of events, capped by Pastor William Beitz’s controversial paper on Galatians, had led to an acrimonious separation and the formation of the Protes’tant Conference in the late 1920s. Ultimately, Prof. J.P. Koehler was also disfellowshipped by the synod. (He lived until 1951. Notes based on his church history text were used when I had Church History at Immanuel Lutheran Seminary.) Over 50 years later, WELS historian Edward Fredrich wrote (WELS Historical Institute Journal, Fall 1984, p. 30): “Held to strict Wortlaut [wording], Beitz can be questioned on such matters as the role of the Law in repentance. Granted the benefit of the doubt, in the mode of Koehler and others, he could pass an orthodoxy test. In the final analysis, however, one should assert that in the matter of conference papers …, the key point is clarity and all unclarity should be clarified.”

Now to further quotations. Prof. Pieper is quoted on p. 9 of the Aug. 1, 1929, Faith-Life of the Protes’tant Conference, as saying, in connection with dealing with the Protes’tants: “These people, that confess to be in accord with, and continue to adhere to the Beitz Paper, are not only adhering to false doctrine, but are also committing the grave sin of slander. They have, sad to say, attacked the Holy Spirit. They are blaspheming. They have trampled our Lord Jesus Christ under foot. We, therefore, also deny them all their Christianity.” As reported on p. 11 of the supplement to the March 1930 F-L, a Protes’tant “referred the committee to Pres. Thurow’s Praesidial-Bericht, adopted by the entire District, in which it is expressly stated that we were suspended because of adherence to the Beitz paper and are to be regarded by Christians everywhere as ‘fornicators, idolaters, drunkards and extortioners, with whom no Christian should even eat’ (see Synodal-Bericht, West Wis. Dist., 1928, p. 8,15).” (We have verified that I Cor. 5:11-13 is indeed used.)

Pastor Immanuel Frey’s 1928 Minnesota District pastoral conference paper on the Western Wisconsin District’s suspensions was published in the October 2002 issue of the WELS Historical Institute Journal. In his foreword to this paper, Pastor Peter Prange writes (p. 27): “But again, Frey brought his conference to this important question: Are we really ready to say that these Protes’tants, who had formerly been our brothers, are no longer Christians? That question has never been unequivocally answered by the Wisconsin Synod, not even by the Western Wisconsin District in 1962 with the lifting of the suspensions. And it probably never will be.” (Frey himself wrote (p. 37): “I am in the following proceeding from the premise that synodical suspension is in effect excommunication as the articles in the Quartalschrift set forth. That is also my personal view.” He also said that for a time a split in the synod over this issue seemed entirely possible.)

Finally: “This being the sad state of affairs, and with no other way left open according to the Word of God, synod [Wisconsin] was forced to declare your congregation as belonging to those who have broken the bond of faith and have excommunicated themselves from the Church of Jesus Christ through impenitence.” (Pastor Gerhard Pieper, Visitor in Southwestern Conference, letter of Feb. 28, 1928, to St. Paul’s Congregation at Wilton, Wis., as reproduced on pp. 9-10 of the 2001-3 issue of F-L.) Pastor Pieper (a son of August) did subsequently make a correction in a letter of March 22, 1928: “It should not read [ …] that all members of St. Paul’s church, or of the entire congregation as such, have placed themselves outside the realm of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, but by participating in the false teaching and the manifest sin of their pastor and by peremptorily refusing all further dealings and admonitions from the Word of God the members have severed the bond of faith with their brethren and have excluded themselves from the true visible church on earth.”

As we shake our heads in disbelief, we wonder where Pastor Pieper’s copy of Prof. Schaller’s pastoral theology was to start with; how a district official could ever write so wildly; and why, if the congregation involved deserved to be disciplined, the discipline wasn’t actually administered. Was resorting to self-exclusion actually not recognized as a copout? Surveying the entire terrible tragedy, we wonder whether Prof. Pieper should have been disciplined in some way, since he was the person who pushed things past the point of return, or whether even the entire Western Wisconsin District should possibly have been disciplined. “The Minnesota District was concerned already in 1924. In 1928 that district’s convention deplored the events and then set down this reminder and rebuke for its sister district, ‘Christ has given instruction for church discipline not for the purpose of condemnation but the salvation of souls.’” (Edward Fredrich, The Wisconsin Synod Lutherans, p. 162)

In his history of the Western Wisconsin District, E.C. Kiessling writes (p. 25): “A further problem arose. Were these suspensions to be considered excommunications? Many thought they were. Gradually the view obtained that they were not. When the Synod in 1961 asked the Western Wisconsin District ‘of its own free will and accord’ to reconsider the suspensions, it not only reconsidered but removed them for the following reasons: The resolutions were ‘clouded over with uncertainties; their scope (was) in doubt; the resolutions (were) not unanimous; interpretations put on the resolutions (were) unclear and various.’ All these reasons already existed at the time of suspensions. Looking back with the gift of hindsight, one is tempted to say that they should never have been issued.”

What incalculable damage can be produced by ill-advised haste. “Haste in a controversy is thrice accursed.” “The most central lesson of all was enunciated by Prof. John Meyer some years after the [Protes’tant] Controversy. In three words he put his finger squarely on the sorest weakness, one from which neither side could claim to be free. He said: ‘Prize the brotherhood!’” (Both quotations are from p. 34 of Mark Jeske’s 1978 seminary church history paper: “A Half Century of Faith-Life – An Analysis of the Circumstances Surrounding the Formation of the Protes’tant Conference.” For the three-word central lesson, a footnote cites “notes taken by Prof. John Jeske [Mark’s father] at a lecture given by Prof. John Meyer on Feb. 16, 1948.”)

Yes: Prize the brotherhood! Eph. 4:3.

TRACKING Happily, today one can find even in the Missouri
THINGS DOWN Synod, of which Walther was the leading founder, z statements disapproving of terminology about self-excommunication. But it wasn’t the easiest thing to track down information on the origin of this theological fiction.

The responses from the seminaries and other institutions that we contacted contained some disclaimers. “I don’t know the origin of the use of that term.” “I am not aware of a specific resource that traces the history of this term and its usage in the LCMS.” “None of the men I was able to get in touch with could provide any information, so I requested that the library research the term and/or the practice, but they were unsuccessful also. My personal opinion is that this is one of those practices that like Topsy ‘just grew.’ … This seems to be an aberration.” But there was also information that did put us on the right track. Communications that were especially helpful came from Bethany Seminary in Mankato (Prof. John Moldstad Jr.) and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (Prof. Thomas Manteufel).

The hope that work on this issue, connected as it was with the Wauwatosa Theology, would be warmly received in the LCCF proved to be vain. Thus there was a certain earthly cost for those who pursued the truth and stood by what was right. Those who formed Grace Congregation, however, remained confident that in whatever lay ahead there would be opportunities to testify to the grace of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. One person explicitly said he was looking forward to starting over. With what eagerness the emergence of a new fellowship was anticipated, in which with all our heart and soul, we could work together to glorify the saving name of our Lord. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord,” I Cor. 15:58.


1) We came across one constitution (of a CLC congregation) that read thus: “Should such a person remain manifestly impenitent in spite of these efforts or who [sic] by evading and refusing to submit to such church discipline excommunicate himself, the congregation shall excommunicate him ….”
2) The problems inherent even in operating with “self-exclusion” are illustrated by this in a Christian News report (Feb. 2, 1998, p. 24) about developments in an LCMS congregation in the St. Louis area: “The three dissident families claimed they were excommunicated …. They were not! Trinity simply recognized their self-exclusion (as provided by our constitution) ….”
3) Some years ago, Pastor Robert Lietz, then of the Fellowship of Lutheran Congregations, publicly repented of and retracted the position he had held for over 20 years that no excommunication could be pronounced without a face-to-face meeting during the final phase, and embraced the correct position. How heartwarming it is to hear of such a thing taking place.
4) Here are brief excerpts from three articles expected to appear in the next Wauwatosa Theology volume. Koehler on music: “Another objection, both spoken and written, has been advanced against earlier statements of mine: ‘You are introducing a new conception of art.’ To which I can only reply: ‘Well, of course, that is what a Christian is there for.’” “All of this goes to show that what we call art consists less in a thing that someone has decided to manufacture than in something that God has planted in the organism of creation.” Pieper on Romans 1: “God has blazoned His wrath with letters of flame on the pages of history, a solemn warning to all future generations. He has engraved it in ineffaceable script on the very face of creation: blighting all joy of life, blasting every hope, voiding every effort, and turning all men and all things to destruction, making this wonderful world a habitation of misery, a vale of tears, a dungeon of pain and agony.” Schaller on recognizing excommunications: “Now how will the congregation act before whom this kind of question is brought [whether its excommunication is legitimate]? Dare it sit on its high horse and refuse to give any particulars about its excommunication process? If it were to do that, it would obviously be arrogating to itself an authority in conscience matters which has not been given to it.”
5) The indebtedness of the Wauwatosa Theology to Prof. George Stoeckhardt of the Missouri Synod should not be overlooked. See the 2006 Reformation Lectures (dealing with the three exegetes, Stoeckhardt, Koehler, and Lenski) as published in the 2007-1 issue of the Lutheran Synod Quarterly of the ELS.
6) In addition to numerous scattered articles on the Protes’tants, especially in the WELS Historical Institute Journal, there is now the careful, detailed, and balanced treatment by WELS pastor Peter Prange.
7) Because the issue of war keeps engaging our attention, we should like to point out the following. As can be seen from the Sept.-Oct. 2007 issue of F-L, Prof. Koehler wrote a letter to President Wilson in 1916 objecting to the measures he was taking that were bringing us closer to war. A few years after the war, in 1923, Prof. Pieper referred to “the fact [during the war] that not a person in the land could be certain that our involvement in the war was just,” and continued: “… It is now clear to all the world that our government’s role in the World War was not justified.” (F-L, March-April 1996, p. 15)
7) Special publishing activity was one of the results graciously worked by God during and after the controversy that came to a climax 10 years ago. A list of currently available material that is largely a fruit of ongoing collaboration between Grace Congregation and its pastor, but with some things previously compiled and republished in the LCCF also included, may prove useful. The writers are Marvin Eibs, Gene Rutz, Randy Fossum, Lester Wehrwein, R.E. Wehrwein, and Derek Wehrwein; in many cases the original place of publication was the LCCF Newsletter.

A collection of articles on home-schooling
A collection of articles on the Christian family
A review of three CLC papers relating to the fraternal insurance issue
Material relating to the CLC and Communion practice
An account of the 1954 Synodical Conference Convention
A survey of the OLC, Concordia Luth. Conf., LCR, FLC, and ILC
Material on the book of Revelation
A summary of the Bible’s teachings
An examination of aspects of Roman Catholicism, especially its claim to consistency and its appeal to history
An examination of the footnotes in the Douay Version
A collection of six articles by Lester Wehrwein
A bibliography of translated Lehre und Wehre and Quartalschrift

Wallace McLaughlin’s biographical sketch of Walther
McLaughlin’s sketches of Sihler, Wyneken, Stoeckhardt, F. Pieper
Articles by John Parcher
Two booklets of sermons by Winfred Schaller Sr. and Jr.
August Pieper’s material on Communion and the Lodge

Twenty-six booklets compiling many of the scattered writings of Egbert Schaller (a son of John)

Finally: The Kingdom of Christ by J.P. Meyer. Grace Congregation paid to have this Quartalschrift material of the 1930s translated and published in book form. The translator is Dr. O. Marc Tangner.

There is only one article in this special issue; it is written by the undersigned, pastor of Grace Ev. Lutheran Congregation. That is because this is an anniversary issue. Though its content deals with history, readers will readily see how that content is intimately related to the Gospel. For it deals with one of God’s prescribed means for rescuing souls from the grip of Satan, and bringing them back in repentance to their Savior, Jesus Christ, and thus to life eternal. (Mt. 18:15-18; John 20:21-23; I Cor. 5; II Cor. 2:1-11; I Tim. 1:20)

Grace Congregation of New Ulm, Minn., came into being as a result of events that took place exactly 10 years ago – in May and June of 1998. A very brief summary, together with reference to a more detailed treatment, is in the first issue of Always Abounding.

That was 10 years ago. One hundred years ago, in 1908, Prof. John Schaller moved from New Ulm, Minn., where he had been president of Dr. Martin Luther College, to Wauwatosa, Wis. (near Milwaukee), where he replaced Adolf Hoenecke, who had been called to his heavenly home, on the faculty of the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary.

There is a connection, as you will soon see from reading these pages. Through them, you are invited to become more familiar with the Wauwatosa Theology, and to join the members of Grace Congregation in thanking God for the special blessings He graciously granted them as a result of finding themselves confronted with an error in their congregation’s constitution when they were still members of Faith Congregation of Sanborn, Minn.

Reproduced on our cover is the title page of John Schaller’s book on pastoral theology. It was published 95 years ago.

A correction needs to be made. At the very bottom of p. 19 of the Jan.-Feb. issue, the years of publication should be 1923-1924 instead of 1922-1923. We apologize for this error. R.E. Wehrwein

St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
56937 220th St., East County Road 46
Austin, MN 55912
Worship Service at 10:00 am, adult Bible Class at 9:00 am
Pastor Randy Fossum
Church Phone 507-433-6709
Home Phone 507-373-8942
Email: [email protected]

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
1121 S. Jefferson St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Pastor R.E. Wehrwein
Telephone: 507-359-4105
Email: [email protected]

St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
112 9th Ave. N
Onalaska, Wis. 54650
Worship Service and Bible Class at 10:30 am each Sunday
Pastor Robert Dommer
Telephone: 608-457-2131
Email: [email protected]

St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
219 Oak St.
Stoddard, Wis. 54658
Worship Service and Bible Class at 8:30 am each Sunday
Pastor Robert Dommer
Telephone: 608-457-2131
Email: [email protected]