BLTC Press Titles

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Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


by William Herman Theodore Dau


whom He performed His gracious counsels of love and led His people through trials and persecutions to peace and spiritual comfort. When, in the first decades of the nineteenth century, the faithful Lutherans in Germany were sorely oppressed by unionistic princes on account of their faith, they sought refuge in the United States, where they hoped to be free to worship God according to their faith and the dictates of their conscience. And the Lord of the Church gave them the leaders whom they needed to find that peace and the spiritual liberty which they longed for. The names Wyneken, Loeber, Keyl, Brohm, Fuerbringer, Sihler, Craemer, Lochner, Selle, etc., will ever be written on the tablets of the history of the Missouri Synod. They were great men, men filled with holy zeal for the truth of God's holy Word, men ready to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. But the one man who was first and foremost among them, the real leader and directing spirit in the organization and establishment of the Missouri Synod, was Dr. Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther.

To write the life of Walther is to write the history of the Missouri Synod; for "his life is so closely connected with that of the powerful Synod which he organized, and which was the expression of his own spirit, that even the details of his private biography belong to the history of the Church." From the earliest days of his youth we observe how God prepared him for the tremendous task which he was to perform in his life.

Walther came from a family of Lutheran pastors. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were Lutheran ministers. He was born October 25, 1811, at Langenchursdorf, in the kingdom of Saxony, where his father, Gottlob Heinrich Wilhelm Walther, was pastor. His mother was Johanna Wilhelmina Walther, nee Zschenderlein. He was the eighth of twelve children. The discipline at his home was very rigorous, even legalistic. Walther received his first instructions from his father and was later sent to the village school. After two years of schooling at the city school at Hohenstein, near Chemnitz, he entered the Gymnasium (college) at Schneeberg in July, 1821, and graduated from this school September 23, 1829. Most of the teachers at Schneeberg were rationalists, and Walther was very much influenced by them, although, as he tells us, he still retained the historical belief that the Bible is the Word of God. We may judge of the spiritual condition of Walther from the fact that when eighteen years old he had never yet had a Bible or a Catechism of his own.

Walther was a great lover of music, and it was his wish to make music the study of his life. His father was very much opposed to these plans of his son, and wished that he would take up the study of theology, promising him one thaler a week if he would do so. And he did, not on account of the munificent subsidy of a thaler a week, but because God

Parsonage at Langenchursdorf, Saxony,

whcre Dr. C. P. W. Walther was horn October 25, 1811.

had changed the mind of the young man through the reading of the biography of Pastor J. F. Oberlin by G. H. Schubert . He now was convinced "that the prospects which a theologian may have are the most beautiful; for if he only will, he can create for himself a field of opportunity such as no other man, who chooses some other calling, may ever hope for." The history of his life's work shows that he was not mistaken1. In October, 1829, he went to the University of Leipzig with his brother, Otto Hermann, and matriculated as a student of theology.

In those days rank rationalism reigned supreme at the University of Leipzig. Only very few of the professors still professed the Christian faith. But by the grace of God, Walther was led into a small circle of Christian students who, under the leadership of an old candidate by the name of Kuehn, came together for the purpose of prayerfully studying the Word of God. As they did not take part in the wild carousals and drinking-bouts of their fellow-students, they were ridiculed, scorned, and decried as hypocrites, obscurants, pietists, fanatics. By diligent study of the Bible and other books they gradually came to the conviction that the doctrines of the Lutheran Church are the only true ones. But they had as yet not come to a full knowledge and understanding of the fundamental truth of the Church of the Reformation, to wit, that of justification. They still held that, in order to come to a full and lasting assurance of his salvation, every sinner must needs pass through the awful terrors of the Law and the qualms of the fear of hell. In other words, they founded their hopes of salvation not so much on the grace of God and the merits of Christ as on a certain degree of contrition and repentance to which they must have attained. This brought Walther into deep distress; terrible conflicts of soul resulted. Doubts and uncertainty concerning his salvation brought him to the verge of despair. He says: '"Praying, sighing, weeping, fasting, struggling, was of no avail; the peace of God had departed from my soul." He was rescued from this awful torment by a pastoral letter from Rev. Martin Stephan, then pastor at Dresden, Saxony, to whom he had written for advice. Stephan advised him to hasten to the saving arms of Jesus, and he would find healing under His wings. This Walther did, and the peace of God returned to his heart.

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