Friday, June 27, 2014

Pulpit Review: Walther


Walther, C. F. W. Gospel Sermons, Volume 1 (Walther's Works). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 306 Pages. Cloth. $49.99 http://www.cph.org/p-22200-gospel-sermons-volume-1.aspx (P)

Walther, C. F. W. Gospel Sermons, Volume 2 (Walther's Works). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 284 Pages. Cloth. $49.99 http://www.cph.org/p-22960-gospel-sermons-volume-2.aspx (P)


When I was on vicarage, I read this:




And it was one of the highlights of my entire "internship" year. 

No, I'm not THAT old! I was blessed with three boxes of "old German books" including and 1861 Latin all-in-one-volume Examination of the Council of Trent. Yet, I kept coming back to the Walther sermons on the Gospel readings of the Historic lectionary. Back then, my German was better than my Greek. It still meant slow going in Fraktur letters, but it was well worth my efforts (because I definitely needed some joyful, yet solvable distractions in those days).

I remember thinking aloud, "Why should English-reading LCMS Lutherans be deprived of reading these sermons of Walther?" Concordia Publishing House should be commended for making my wish a reality. It wasn't mine alone, apparently.
Walther's sermons reflect not only the importance of Walther as leading theologian of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in the first decades of its existence but also his extraordinary gifts as a preacher. Now in English, Walther’s sermons will give you today a peek into the powerful preaching of the first president of the LCMS.

The sermons are printed unchanged in content and form. They originate from the Walther’s almost 30 years as pastor of the first German Evangelical Lutheran (Joint) congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in this country, which for some time past consists of four areas with four churches: Trinity, Immanuel, Zion, and Cross Churches. Gospel Sermons Volume 2 covers The Time of the Church (The Season after Pentecost, including sermons for several feast days).

Experience this explanation of God’s Word by C. F. W. Walther and know that Christians are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This was the Bible verse Walther put on one of the first pages of the German edition of his Gospel sermons.

One of the most significant Lutheran theologians in North America, C. F. W. Walther (1811–87) dominated the theological landscape of the mid-1800s. A leader in the Saxon immigration to Missouri in 1839, Walther helped to found the college that would become Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, as well as to organize The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In addition to serving as a pastor, Walther was the synod’s first president and the president of the seminary and its leading teacher. A prolific author, Walther wrote on a variety of topics, corresponded with numerous religious leaders, edited the theological journal Der Lutheraner, and helped start Concordia Publishing House.
If you haven't read more than Law and Gospel by Walther, you need to read these sermons

If you've never preached on the Historic One Year Lectionary (and you should for at least one year), consider doing so and prepare for the task by reading these Gospel Sermons

Any preacher would benefit from reading these sermons by consulting the Scripture Index of each volume to find texts found in both the One and Three-Year Lectionaries.

What does "postil" mean? Find the answer from President Harrison in his endorsement of the set.

My favorites were largely at the end of the second volume, "Day of the Purification of Mary" (234ff), "Reformation Day" (248ff), and "Day of Humiliation" (268f), though the first volume helped my preaching of Luke 18:31-43 on Quinquagesima (147ff) and John 14:23-31 for Pentecost (291ff).



What's next in Walther's Works? I haven't been told officially (or unofficially for that matter). 

Epistle sermons, anyone? 

His Communism and Socialism would be timely.




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR