The Glory Has Departed
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Walther – Saint or Wolf?
In Pursuit of Religious Freedom: Bishop Martin Stephan’s Journey
By Philip G. Stephan (born 1935), New York: Lexington Books, 2008.
My citations will be In Pursuit of Religious Freedom, instead of Stephan, to avoid confusion, since the author is a descendant of the bishop.
I am all for declaring CFW Walther a saint, which may be a demotion. The Bronze Age Missourians treat him as a god. WELS trots him out when convenient.
To declare someone a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, a Devil’s Advocate must argue the opposite side of the case, presenting all the reasons why that person should not be elevated to that status.
An undeclared saint is more dangerous than an undeclared war, so I am starting the sainthood process on my own as the Devil’s Advocate.
Myth – CFW Walther was an orthodox Lutheran who left Europe with the Stephanite group to avoid the persecution of the Prussian Union.
Fact – Stephan’s congregation was directly connected with Pietism, and Walther came to Stephan as an extreme Pietist who was starving himself to death with fanatical acts of contrition.
They landed in New Orleans, April 29, 1839.
Martin Stephan began study at Halle University in 1804 and spent two years there, finishing at the University of Leipzig. In Pursuit of Religious Freedom, p. 30.
“Stephan’s theological training prior to attending the university was shaped by the Waldensians, Hussites, and Moravian Brethren. He had become a follower of Luther after his parents’ own teaching. The Brethren practices enabled him to feel at home in Lutheran pietism.” IPRF, p. 33.