Monday, May 7, 2007

C.F.W. Walther, Doctor and Confessor

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811-87), the father of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, served as its first president from 1847 to 1850 and then again from 1864 to 1878. In 1839 he emigrated from Saxony, Germany, with other Lutherans, who settled in Missouri. He served as pastor of several congregations in St. Louis, founded Concordia Seminary, and in 1847 was instrumental in the formation of the LCMS (then called the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States). Walther worked tirelessly to promote confessional Lutheran teaching and doctrinal agreement among all Lutherans in the United States. He was a prolific writer and speaker. Among his most influential works are Church and Ministry and The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.

[From The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod Commission on Worship]

Walther actually wasn't the one who brought the Saxon Germans over here to the U.S. It was Martin Stephan, who was a great influence on Walther. But when (here) Stephan got into trouble and was excommunicated Walther stepped up and became the leader of these Lutherans who began to wonder if they were still the Church or not. Walther boldly proclaimed to them the Word of God, reminding them that it doesn't matter where you are in the world, that God's saints are those who gather around the Word and Sacraments. In Germany Walther had been a student of the Scriptures, the early Church Fathers, and of Luther. He remained a faithful student of the Scriptures and pastor of God's people throughout his life.

One other tidbit about Walther. He preferred to go by "Ferdinand". With a first name of Carl, why would you want to go by Ferdinand? Regardless, by any name, he remains one of the great blessings God has given to His Church.

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