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.
A D D E N D A
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.
A N N I V E R S A R Y I S S U E
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
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
1121 S. Jefferson St.
New Ulm, MN 56073
Pastor R.E. Wehrwein
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
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