Thursday, 22 October 2009

Walther on the Reformation

With Reformation Day coming up, the following quote from C. F. W. Walther is timely:

“But, my friends, the fact that the Lutheran Reformation was an actual and therefore a complete one is …important for us… because it comforts and encourages us in the face of the deterioration under which the church of the Reformation suffers at the present time. For if the Reformation was a work of God, which anyone can easily see who compares it with God’s Word, why should we be discouraged? Men may mock and despise such a work, but they cannot destroy it. People may forsake the fortress of our church and rob themselves of their heavenly treasures, but they cannot destroy this fortress. It stands in the midst of the ocean of the world, exposed to the waves of unbelief and error, assailed by the most fearful weapons of the mighty and wise of the world, hidden by the very clouds of heaven, withdrawn from the eyes of men by the smoke of battle, covered with offences, yes already seeming to totter. But, take heart! It does not fall, because it is built on a rock which lies deeper than the ocean of the world, upon the rock of the words of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ the cornerstone, upon the rock of the eternal Word of God itself. For God’s Word is nothing else than Luther’s doctrine, and Luther’s doctrine is nothing else than God’s Word. Why then should we despair? For “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever.”

From a Reformation Day sermon preached in 1858 (Thanks to Clarrie Priebbenow & Peter Ziebell for alerting me to this passage via their newsletter).

Walther is one of the most powerful writers on practical theology I have read, perhaps second only to Luther. Unfortunately, we only seem to have extracts from his sermons available in English; it would be very beneficial for the church at the present time to have a volume or two of his sermons in English (I believe there may have been a volume published 20 or so years ago for the centenary of his death, but it has long been out of print.)

Clicking on the post title should take you to a volume of daily devotions taken from Walther's sermons published by Concordia. I recommend it.

Addendum: Seems like the good folks at Concordia read my mind, they have made that volume of sermons available again, albeit on a print on demand basis.


matthias said...

Very apt choice given the fact that the Anglo Catholics have been givne the nod to return to Rome. How long Pastor before the difference in polity becomes an issue.

Mark Henderson said...

Thanks Matthias, good to know you appreciated it.
"Differences in polity", I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific. Please expand on that...

mathias said...

I think it is that the Anglicans have a element of democracy in the election of memebrs of their Synod whilst the Curia is all by appointment. i had a nun tell me recently that the problem with the Curia is that they are all elderly men and there needs to be an injection of younger blood.

Mark Henderson said...

Yes, I see what you mean, I hadn't thought of that, Matthias.

My first thought in response is that for many Anglo-Catholics democratic representation in the church is not a high priority, so I don't think the change in political cultures will bother those who 'swim the Tiber' too much. I expect those for whom it would be a problem are of a more liberal persuasion and they will be happy to remain with Canterbury.

I had to have a chuckle over the comment of your nun, she seems to be like quite a few nuns I have met over the years! She might be surprised to find that younger candidates for the Curia are even more conservative than the 'old men' who serve in it at the moment.
Doctrinal differences aside, I find the respect that the Romans and Orthodox pay to the older, venerable pastors in their midst to be quite Biblical. There is a wisdom that only years in the ministry can provide.

Thanks again for your thoughts, Matthias.