I originally read this article in the hardcopy (gasp! Not online!) edition of For the Life of the World, a magazine of Concordia Theological Seminary. This magazine is mailed to all Pastors in the LC–MS as well as anyone interested in the work of CTS, Fort Wayne. Thanks to Pr John Frahm for posting this link on the BJS Facebook Fan Page. It is interesting reading for those not familiar with our Synod’s history. There are several other articles in the magazine that are of interest; read them online or subscribe to the magazine (see below).
A few quotes from Pr Rast’s article, Walther and the Formation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod:
When the LCMS came into existence, it brought together a remarkable assortment of people from a variety of backgrounds and commitments. F. C. D. Wyneken in Fort Wayne, Indiana (and throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana), August CrÃ¤mer in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Wilhelm Sihler and his colleagues in Ohio, and, last but certainly not least, there were the Saxons in St. Louis and Perry County, Missouri, led ultimately by C. F. W. Walter.
The historic doctrine and practice of the church simply did not make sense to Americans, argued Schmucker, and therefore it was incumbent on the church to change to fit the attitude of the times.
Walther totally disagreed. By the early 1840s he had concluded that the synods of American Lutheranism were so infected by the faulty thinking of the time that it was necessary to gather confessionally committed Lutherans into a new synod. Far from being isolationist in attitude, Walther reached out with the Lutheran confession of the biblical truth to America. On September 7, 1844, Walther published the first issue of Der Lutheraner (“The Lutheran”) in which he sought to strengthen the ties of confessional Lutherans throughout the United States. When Wyneken received a copy of the issue, he is reported to have exclaimed, “Thank God, there are still Lutherans in America.” Wilhelm Sihler also received a copy and soon was writing to Walther.
Many have asked, why use the name “Missouri”? In fact, the original name of the synod was Die Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio, und andern Staaten (“The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States”). The voting membership of sixteen congregations and twelve pastors, along with eleven advisory members (ten pastors and one teacher), was drawn from Missouri on the west and Ohio on the east. Notably, the majority of congregations were in Indiana. The unwieldy formal title was quickly shortened to “Missouri” or the “Missouri Synod,” and its participants were known as “Missourians.” However, the geographical designation is the least significant element of the new synod. Rather, what emerges from a reading of the new synod’s Constitution is its clearly confessional character. The Missourians were determined from the start to make a clear statement of their beliefs in both their doctrine and their practice, as the reasons for forming the synodical union demonstrate:
Notice — the majority of members were from Indiana, but they chose the name “Missouri” for the new organization. The geographical designation was the least significant element .. doctrine was most important.
Walther and the other Missourians believed that the Lutheran confession of biblical truth was valid for all times and all peoples.
Head on over to Walther and the Formation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to read the entire article, or click here to subscribe to the magazine and keep up with happenings at CTS.