The LCMS continues to promote a mythological view of C. F. W. Walther. Contrary information has been stored at the Concordia Historical Institute, where Paul McCain once sought refuge, but no one wants to admit the truth.
When Walther was born in 1811, Germany was divided between Pietists and rationalists. Orthodox Lutherans were scarcer than hen's teeth. Walther's education was rationalistic but he fell in with a group of extreme Pietists. He was starving himself to death when he found comfort in the less strict cell group circles of Martin Stephan. His new leader was trained in Halle Pietism and took great pride in the success of his cell group congregation in Dresden. Walther gave Stephan credit for saving his life.
When hagiographers write about Walther's health, readers should remember that their hero was emotionally disturbed and starving himself to death with acts of contrition. Doubtless he read plenty of Luther when sick, but that did not make Walther a Lutheran.
Stephan, like many cell group leaders, had profound hold on many of his followers. Although it is true that he had religious opponents, Stephan also made enemies with his early dalliances with various women. Like many cell group or Church Growth leaders, Stephan imagined he had a right to have sex with the women and girls in his congregation.
Unfortunately for his long-suffering wife, Stephan contracted syphilis from his adulteries. This fact is also known among insiders although it might have escaped the notice of his closest followers at the time. Syphillis begins with a sore but may seem to go away without treatment. Various symptoms may appear from time to time, but the ignorant sufferer may think, "I was only imagining that I had the French disease. I have to stop worrying so much." During this stage Stephan passed the disease to his wife. The son was healthy, but three of their daughters were deaf and sickly, symptoms of the congenital syphilis. Stephan and his wife were also plagued with various symptoms.
Stephan had rashes, a sign of syphilis, and his #1 mistress, Louise, lived with him at the spa when he was being treated. Stephan's wife visited the spa to help, but she was sent home. Stephan also installed a young woman in his attic, never explaining why. His wife kicked the girl out and locked the attic. Stephan had the lock broken and brought the girl back. He insisted he was "master of the house." Bullying adulterers and their passive wives are a common feature of the Church Growth Movement today.
Stephan's behavior led to police investigations and various accusations of improprieties with women. He was famous for late-night walks with women. Stephan was under house arrest just before he was allowed to leave for America. His wife gave clear testimony about the extent of his adultery, so the mythologists of today can hardly claim ignorance.
Therefore, the claim that the Stephanites "suddenly" found out about his adultery proves how anxious Walther and his descendants were to hide their prior knowledge of the randy bishop's immorality. Multiple appearances of syphilis among the women in America may have spread panic among the pastors, who knew they would soon be ridiculed again in the newspapers - this time for following a syphilitic impostor.
The Walther gang faced the possibility that they would be arrested with Bishop Stephan, or strung up for bringing a diseased phony to America as their bishop. Those fears explain the frantic and secretive stealing of the bishop's land (given to him by the society) and the mob action. Walther and his mob descended like a pack of wolves on the fold. Walther already prepped his future in-laws and others in Perryville about the bishop, but avoided Stephan.
The Truth about Walther's Mob Action
Walther had no qualms about breaking the law. He and his brother kidnapped their niece and nephew from their father's parsonage, bringing them to America, where the children died. The police issued arrest warrants for Walther, which is why he left Europe on a different ship. His ship sank in a storm, leading the hagiographers to rejoice that God spared the life of their hero, whose personality and doctrine left an indelible (bad) impression on the LCMS.
Walther led the mob of 300 from St. Louis to Perryville on May 29th. He left the bishop's supporters at home. According to Stephan himself:
- Pastors Loeber and Keyl told Stephan he was no longer bishop. Stephan was denied food from that time on.
- Vehse and Marbach, attorneys who helped Walther kidnap the children, helped lead the mob.
- Vehse forced Stephan to undress, so they could look for more money to steal from him.
- Two men guarded Stephan - forcible detention. The mob surrounded the house, lit fires, and hit the house with whips. In effect, they threatened the life of Stephan and forced him to surrender all his personal possessions, money, and books, leaving him bankrupt. All this happened without a trial or even a hearing.
- The mob stole 4000 gold coins.
- They also took 1500 books, a valuable library even today, but far more precious in the days of the letter-press.
- They stole his clothing and bedding.
- Contrary to the lies being spread today in Perry County by Walther's idolaters, Stephan was not given a choice over the courts, a return to Europe, or exile in Illinois. He was taken at gunpoint on a steamer the next day, with nothing left. This was the third kidnapping arranged by Walther, yet the Purple Palace historians hail him as the American Luther.
- The felons dumped Stephan in a ramshackle hut with a spade and an axe to "earn his living."
- Not content with what they had already done, the Society spread stories about Stephan, such as his conversion to Roman Catholicism. They accused him of being an embezzler, although he had no access to the funds.
- Louis Guenther, his #1 mistress, came over to help Stephan and live with him. She had previously lived with him at the spa. Stephan was quite ill at this point, doubtless a response to his stress and exposure, being forced to camp on the ground the night he was driven out of his house.
- Walther fraudulently tricked Stephan's son into giving up the title to the 80 acres that the bishop bought with his own money. The son had no right to change ownership and later felt used and abused by Walther. Nevertheless, the Stephan family has had a long and impressive history in the LCMS. One was a speaker for the Lutheran Hour.
- Stephan eventually took his case to court and won back a token amount from the Society. The mob kept two valuable chalices they stole from him, which are still a point of contention. One was used for Holy Communion at Walther's church in St. Louis. Ain't that sweet?
I have no use for adulterous pastors. Their marital infidelity is but a clue of their unfaithfulness to the Word of God. Stephan was a disease-ridden false teacher, but Walther's gang were his enablers. They participated in his Pietism, his blend of Lutheran and Calvinistic doctrine. They ignored Stephan's numerous and obvious examples of immorality. They were like many city folks who came to America and found the wilderness to be far less than they imagined.
The Saxon Immigration Society reminds me of the Columbus WELS pastors, who knowingly followed a man kicked out of the LCMS ministerium and sued by the husband of one mistress. All their subsequent troubles can be traced to their willingness to spread false doctrine while overlooking the obvious. Unwilling to let WELS enjoy all the toxins and pathogens, the Little Sect on the Prairie adopted the same adulterer and worked with him through Thoughts of Faith (sic). Impressario Jay Webber, a true Waltherian, said he was helpless to do anything about it.
Walther's methods have created the template for Synodical Conference behavior. He had to be top dog. Any deception was fine, as long as it advanced his personal cause. Anyone who differed with Walther was driven away. All the Lutheran groups were supposed to bow to Walther. If they wavered, he denounced them as false teachers.
In Pursuit of Religious Freedom is essential reading to get behind the lies told by Paul McCain, Steadfast Lutherans (sic), SP Harrison, Christian News, and the rest.
The Stephan website is also worth studying.
Yes, we know Stephan was really a cad, but nothing justifies the behavior of the Walther mob.
The Stephan website is managed by a lesbian descendant of Stephan, but that does not change the facts. McCain's knee-jerk personal attacks are right from the Walther playbook.
rlschultz has left a new comment on your post "Walther's 200th Birthday - October 25, 2011: Mytho...":
Two hundred years later in this country, Orthodox Lutherans are still scarcer than hen's teeth.