Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. The last few months we have been reading about Pietism and its devastating effects on orthodox Lutheranism. Like we have been reading about in the north German city of Hamburg, the problem was often that those who confessed the correct doctrine, were arrogant and not exactly the most godly. How vital it is that St. Peter’s Spirit inspired words are heeded: always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect [1 Peter. 3.15]. This month we meet such and individual:
38.3 [Part 1]
A SPIRITUAL FIGHTER AGAINST PIETISM: V. E. LOESCHER
Valentin Ernst Loescher was born in 1673 in Sondershausen, in Thuringia in eastern Germany. Here his father was serving as Superintendent. Later, his father went to the University of Wittenberg as a professor. Valentin Ernst then entered the same university at age 17. Two years later, he was already “Master” [Magister] and began holding lectures. He had received his theological education from professors Michael Walther, Deutschmann, Hanneken and also from his own father.
V. E. Loescher once mentioned that there were four things for which he could not thank his heavenly Father enough:
1. That God awakened in him the desire pray daily in great solitude. He soon realized that he has to ask for all good gifts from above—and this also included wisdom and scholarship; and lest he be accused of hypocrisy, he must also thank God for them. This happens in the quiet of solitude.
2. That God continually and mightily draws him to Himself after he falls into sin; God does not right away cast him away. By this he also learned to have sympathy with others.
3. That in addition to giving him a sound body, God also gave him a great zeal to learn what is right and an extraordinary desire and love to work, especially in concentrating and meditating. That’s why it’s not surprising that he undertook such a great and varied work because desire is always half the battle.
4. In His wisdom God always led him in such a way so that he was never completely satisfied with his work but always wanted to improve it; this led him into much knowledge which would otherwise have remained hidden from him.
V. E. Loescher could have said that a rich life’s work already lay behind him. After he became “Master”, he continued his education in Jena and then, according to the custom of the day, in academic travels. As a result he also came to Hamburg and came into contact there both with the orthodox J. Fr. Mayer as well as with his Pietist opponent, Winkler. When he returned, he again faithfully gave lectures on exegesis, homiletics and morals, as well as on heraldry and genealogy.
He became Superintendent in Jueterbog [about 50 miles south of Berlin] and there introduced examinations on the catechism. Afterwards, he became Superintendent in Delitzsch [a bit north of Leipzig] and, in 1707, at 34 years of age, he became professor in Wittenberg. Just two years later he became Superintendent in Dresden and member of the Supreme Consistory. He gathered his pastors for a conference on improving the primary schools of the congregations. He also gathered the schoolteachers and gave them direction on how they should improve their catechism instruction. He succeeded in establishing five schools for the poor. He also laid the foundation for a ministerial seminary in which the candidates for the pastoral office were instructed in preaching and in visiting the sick. Although at the time he was far from academia, he still faithfully gave lectures to candidates living in Dresden.
He almost never had a substitute preaching for him. In the weekday services he gave exegetical sermons. By the time he was 72 he had gone through Holy Scripture. His voice was bright and clear, his delivery free, but he was unable to cite Bible and hymn stanzas from memory. When he got older, he was advised to stop preaching so much. But he said: “For me it is more rest than work.”
He produced great quantities of scholarly work! He published the Historia motuum, two quarto volumes which included controversies with the Reformed, three quarto volumes, Complete Acts of the Reformation, based on studies from primary sources. After that he wrote The Complete Timothy Verinus, [available from the Wisconsin Synod’s Northwestern Publishing House] which was his foremost, and, overall, the most important writing against Pietism. It was an extremely rare and thus very expensive book in the trade. He wrote a history of the Middle Ages. Tholuck [1799-1877] says that it has enduring value. Even after he was very active for a long time in church office, he still kept his keen interest for history, antiquity, geography, and philology. He was so expert in numismatics that he was able to test whether money was genuine merely by feeling and rubbing it with his fingers. One day he came home from the council when a minister had sent him a money cabinet, which he needed to have placed in chronological order right away. The series of Greek and Roman coin families were very familiar to him. He drew a map: Germany in the Middle Ages. He wrote about the Hebrew language; he published Greek authors. He also understood French, Italian, Spanish and English. In 1701 he established the first theological/ literary newspaper, the so-called Unschuldigen Nachrichten and, with the assistance of others, edited it for more than 40 years. His secretary, the very important annalist M. Grulich, reports that he had a library of 80,000 volumes (!) and that he had even memorized all the books he owned so that he knew which books he had and where they were. He came to know this because every time he would arrange his books, he would then always examine the order anew, and even register each book himself. He died in 1749 at the age of 76, having just celebrated his golden anniversary the year before.
The Pietists would so often praise the godly life of a Spener and Francke, but it can quite safely be said that V. E. Loescher was equally as pious in his office and personal temperament. He wrote edifying devotional books, the Noble Fruits of Devotion, his Evangelical Tithe. He composed several very beautiful hymns: Komm heute in mein Herz [Come today into my heart], Ich folge dir durch Tod und Leid [I follow You through death and sorrow]; he also even composed the music to several of his hymns. He devoted much time to prayer for which he had set aside times and secluded himself and saw no one. Following the custom of the ancient Church he observed Friday as a day of fasting. Even stormy weather did not prevent him from accompanying funerals at which the entire choir took part. His charity moved him to feed several widows at his table each week. The main church in Copenhagen had burned down. A collection was made for it. In the basin was found a parcel with 50 Taler [large silver coin]. The king wanted to know who had put it in. It was from Loescher. The king expressed his astonishment that the contribution of his Superintendent was greater than that of his ministers and the next day expensive parcels also arrived from them. Loescher was of such dignity that he did not engage in any sort of frivolity that could have harmed the dignity of his office. He dressed simply, never wearing velvet or silk. In his entire life he never took medicine. He did not allow himself any recreation except a trip one week each year to visit parents and relatives. Even when he carried on a controversy, one sensed from him, as Tholuck rightly remarks, that he “writes before the face of God.” That set him apart from the Romanists, the Reformed and the Pietists.
That was the man who until his death led the struggle against Pietism, even leading it when Pietism had greatly declined. When Loescher died, the unrest caused by the Pietists was practically gone from everywhere. Although the thunderstorm gradually quieted down, the damage that it had caused, of course, was great enough and enduring.
So far Professor Krauss
THIS MONTH’S LWML NEWS
We do not have much news this month. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer.
We are taking the month of July off! Our next meeting is 16 August at Jean’s. Don’t forget our picnic on 30 August.
God Bless and have nice month. Carol, Pres.
Although the congregation voted down the opportunity for every Sunday Communion, the vote was so close that as a matter of pastoral care, pastor will offer Holy Communion after service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month for those desiring our Lord’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sin and strengthening of faith.
We will have a “trial run” on 28 June to receive suggestions for improvement and to work out any kinks. A report will be given to the Voters at the meeting on the 12th, with an “official launch” set for 26 July. Before that, a “Sacramental Set Up and Clean Up” sign-up sheet will be posted to give you an opportunity for service here—this is intended for all who would desire to receive the Sacrament on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Be sure to sign up for a spot. The ladies group will continue their service of set up and clean up on the 1st and 3rd Sundays.
Isn’t making the Sacrament available weekly “excessive”? Luther notes:
“For we who are in this tent groan…” [2 Corinthians 5.4]
If you say you do not feel sin, death, world and devil nor any battle and struggle with them, and so not even necessity compels you to go to the Sacrament of the Altar, I answer: I hope that you are not serious thinking that you alone, among all saints and people on earth, should be without such feeling. And if I knew that you were serious, I would certainly see to it that on every street you go, bells would ring and someone would call out before you: “Here comes a new saint above all saints, one who feels and has no sin.” But I would, without jesting, say to you: “If you no longer feel any sin, then you are certainly dead in sin and it is already all too much and great a sin that you have no need and desire for the Sacrament, do not regard the word of God, forget Christ’s suffering, and are full of unthankfulness and every spiritual horror.”
LUTHER AND THE FOURTH OF JULY: A quote from John Jay (1745-1829) statesman and jurist, an author of The Federalist, first appointed Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court:
"No country has more reason than this Republic to recall with joy the blessings Luther assisted to secure for the world, in emancipating thought and conscience and impressing the stamp of Christianity upon modern civilization. Although America had not been discovered by Columbus when Luther was born, Luther's far-reaching influence, which today is felt from the Atlantic to the Pacific, helped to people our northern continent with the colonists who laid the foundation of its future liberties on the truths of the Bible." [Cited in Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Spring 2011, pg. 46]
STEWARDSHIP THEME FROM THE APOCRYPHA—
The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High. The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten. Glorify the Lord generously and do not stint the firstfruits of your hands. With every gift show a cheerful face and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given and as generously as you are able. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.
Ecclesiasticus [Sirach] 35. 8-13
On 20 July we remember the landing of man on the moon in 1969 and the first walk on the moon by a man on the 21 July.
The following is a quote from the book Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archmandrite Tikhon [Shevkunov]. It was the 2011 Russian Book of the Year winner.
The quote accurately and insightfully deals with the question of life on other planets:
“There is no intelligent life anywhere except on Earth,” said Father Raphael. Then he explained. “Because if there were intelligent life somewhere else, God would have definitely revealed this to Moses, when he wrote the book of Genesis. And Moses would have at the very least hinted about this to us. Therefore, have no doubts whatsoever, Georgiy Alexandrovich, the universe was created by God only for mankind!”
“So why then all these infinite myriad stars and galaxies above us?”
“So that we, in looking at them, could grasp the omnipotence of God.” [pp. 464-5]
POPE FRANCIS ON OUR PERSONAL MISSION WORK.
“Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbours or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #127)
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