2011 Symposia Reflections

I recently got back from the 2011 Symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.  I was only able to attend the second half of the week, so I will not be able to give comment on the Exegetical lectures.

The Symposia website is here: http://www.ctsfw.edu/Symposia

This year there were 650 people in attendance, from what I hear, that is one of the larger crowds in recent years.  I believe that the topic covered was one of the reasons, although there may be a renewed interest in our seminaries as well that helped to contribute.

Some thoughts on the experience:

First of all, it was good to be on campus once again, I had missed chapel.  I would encourage anyone who visits the seminary to attend chapel services as they are the heart and soul of the seminary.  The two days I was able (Wed & Thurs) I will note that there were special vespers services, one involving the seminary choirs singing chorales, and the next day the vespers service was followed by an organ recital.  As always, the vespers services are not as widely attended as the main chapel service in the morning.  On Thursday, President Harrison was the preacher.  An often overlooked gem in the Fort Wayne chapel experience is morning prayer at 7:30, which is just a great way to start the day.

The banquet on Thursday night was quite enjoyable.  Of special note is that since this is President Wenthe’s last symposia (as President) there was a decent amount of ribbing and roasting in his honor.  Dr. David Scaer moderated and managed to make jokes for the whole evening.  There was also a lot of recognition given to the many guests from foreign countries.  This is the worldwide influence of our seminaries at work.  We can’t find a quantitative number to reflect the impact of these faithful men of God who come and learn and then go back and teach.  President Harrison also wrote a wonderful ballad or poem which he spoke in rhythm (not rapping) which honored Dr. Wenthe and denigrated himself (of course).  The meal and the conversation at the table was excellent.

The presentations were also good.  The topic for the Confessions half of the week was C.F.W. Walther.  The presentations engaged contemporaries of Walther and gauged their interactions.  It was good to hear some honest evaluations of Grabau, Loehe, and Kliefoth which actually went back to the original documents (instead of age-old stereotypes).  It was also good to hear from a descendant of Martin Stephan about the incidents around his removal.  Dr. Martin Nolan also gave a wonderful presentation on the rise of confessional movements which included a great overview of the confessional methods of Chemnitz and Walther.  Dr. Masaki’s presentation on Kliefoth was first-rate, and we all hope that more of his work gets into English soon.  Professor Pless’ paper on Loehe was also well done, although the presentation was trimmed for time limitations.  Dr. Mark Braun of the WELS gave an excellent analysis of Walther and also shed some light on the divisions between LCMS and WELS.  Dr. Scaer’s presentation was excellent as well, although I had to miss the first portion of it.  Dr. Rast of course did a great job of covering American Lutheranism and Walther.   Two really excellent papers were presented on Friday morning by Dr. Mackenzie and Prof. Ziegler.  Dr. Mackenzie, true to his reputation as a historian of the first rate, gave an excellent paper on Walther’s use of Luther, in which he showed that most of the time Walther stayed true to Luther’s original meanings, but he also pointed out a couple of occasions where Walther didn’t use Luther properly.  Professor Ziegler’s presentation was a great overview of the Eduard Preuss (note the two s’s) scandal of the LCMS.  Preuss apostatized to the Roman Catholic Church not long after writing one of the best volumes on Justification of the 19th century (for a copy of his book which has been recently re-released see: http://lutheranlegacy.org/publications/justification.aspx).  Prof. Ziegler’s paper was a great warning cry for pastors who think they can deal with their situations “alone” and not look for the mutual conversation and consolation of the brothers.

ONE MORE THING:  During one of the breaks, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Library Expansion project that is going on.  The tour was led by Dr. Roethemeyer, who has put in many hours of work and really been at the head of the project.  The new Library will be an excellent addition to an already great campus.  One of the best things about the Fort Wayne Campus is that the two greatest buildings are their Chapel and their Library (it says something about what we as Lutherans believe).  The new addition is looking good and some of it will be ready by this summer.  There is still a great need for further funding to help the expansion, and I would encourage anyone interested to look into it.  For more information, go to:  http://ctsfw.edu/Page.aspx?pid=360 (there is even a walk-through online).  Contributing to the library would be a great way to continue the seminary’s great legacy.

That is my very long “summary” of the Symposia week, I would encourage anyone who attended to add your comments as well.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

2011 Symposia Reflections — 81 Comments

  1. @Rev. Steve Bagnall #50
    Rev. Bagnall,

    You are correct. Dr. Gard’s paper was one of the finest I’ve ever heard there. It was interesting, applicable, and proved his thesis in a devastating way. There were other good exegetical papers, too. I thought all the confessional papers were interesting and helpful.

    Thank you directing us back to the point that the Symposia, as a whole, was excellent!

  2. @Pastor Steven Schlund #47
    I think Dr. Mackenzie was trying to point out an assumption made by Dr. Stephan that should have been researched. His question was based upon historical methodology. I don’t think he was trying to let the Saxons off easy – that would not be in step with how he treats them in other works (notably his presentation on Walther and Luther the next day). I know from my classes with him that he definitely has not fallen prey to LCMS romanticism with regards to its Lutheran fathers. He is willing to point out errors and problems and let them be what they are.

    As a pastor, by God’s grace I wouldn’t break the seal of confession for anything either. I am doubly blessed in that both my office as pastor and state law (MN) would be violated if I ever did.

    As to the Saxons and people reluctance to call them sinners, all you have to do is look into how little is mentioned until recent years about their bouts with depression. By reading some of the earlier histories you would think that these men were superhuman. The result of this romanticized view of our fathers is that we stand on their merits instead of the teachings which they inherited from Christ. Dangerous at best, it has not been good for us.

    As far as “ends” and “means” I would say that God determines the ends, and we are to be faithful in the means. I think that describes the duty of a pastor pretty well. Something about Paul planting, Apollos watering, and God giving the increase. The problem for us sinners is that a focus on means requires more patience than a focus on the ends. I am thinking of how young pastors (including myself) bring in changes too quickly (the right ends) and end up hurting souls along the way (by not patiently teaching – the correct means). God would bring the change in His good time.

  3. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #52
    I sat behind Dr. M during Dr. Stephan’s paper, and then with Dr. M and his wife (a descendant of Loeber, if I understood correctly!) at the banquet. What I think Dr. M was saying with his “question” at the mike, which I think also was his main bone to pick with Dr. Stephan’s paper, was that Dr. S was basing all his major points on one *unpublished, secondary* source, from 80 or 90 years after the events, and the paper was essentially nothing but speculation built on top of that (the same criticism being true of Dr. S’s book). He was shaking his head for most of that (*long*) paper. I think (and we could ask Dr. M, of course) that his main concern was that the paper was rather poorly done *history*, rather than the particular conclusions Dr. S drew. As far as the ordination vow thing is concerned, I think Dr. M was so frustrated with the paper that he didn’t know where to begin to poke what he saw as glaringly large holes in it, and that happened to be the detail he grabbed at the moment–which, at the time, I didn’t think was the strongest issue to bring up, myself.

  4. Prof. Rast has posted his CTS Symposium presentation, “Introduction: Walther’s Importance for Lutheranism Today.”

    Prof. Rast closes his presentation with a statement made by a Lutheran pastor back in 1999:

    “Perusing Walther’s enormous bibliography demonstrates that he still has much to say to 20th [and 21st!] century Lutheranism. He wrote eloquently and at length regarding Lutheran-Reformed Union, the necessity of remaining a liturgical church, the dangers of the ‘new measures,’ and on many other very contemporary topics, along with of course, Church and Office. We need Walther. We need the real Walther. And we need to read Walther critically, according to his own excellent criteria.

    That pastor is now the President of the Missouri Synod.

  5. Steven Anderson :
    No one is as humorless as a Confessional Lutheran.

    You can’t be serious. My week in FW, with the Lutheran Concerns folks, then at the symposia, was anything but humorless:
    Laugh-filled dinner with one of the original heroes of the CSL fact-finding committee,
    Lunch with the witty Martin Noland,
    A fast-paced exchange between Drs. David Adams and William Weinrich, including
    A new term coined by Dr. Adams: “Pseudocostalism” (very apt and timely)
    Presentations (and introductions) full of good natured ribs and counter-ribs
    A banquet speech by President Harrison that was humorous from beginning to end
    The always refined, ever-clever, but never boring remarks by President Wenthe
    A thoroughly enjoyable presentation of the S.O.B. award by one of the most seriously confessional liturgical groups in synod
    Two dinners with four of the most confessional pastors I know, our digestion aided by laughter from soup to dessert.

    No, Rev. Anderson, it appears that you were at some other symposia in some other venue.

    Johannes (curmudgeon)

  6. @Steven Anderson #1
    Box lunches! I paid $135 for box lunches!

    Steven Anderson :
    No one is as humorless as a Confessional Lutheran.

    Pastor Anderson,
    I’m thinking now that your humor here was too subtle for me! 🙂

    Hope you had a good time at the Symposium!

  7. @helen #58

    Helen, please note my replies (#38 & #57) to Rev. Anderson. It doesn’t appear that he had a very good time at the symposia. Too bad–it was a great week, as all us dour confessional types sat there eating our box lunches, and scowling. It calls to mind that great punch line: “…there’s got to be a pony in here someplace!”

    If you don’t know the story behind the punch line, email me personally, and I’ll tell you.
    Norm has permission to send it to you.

    Johannes

  8. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    For insightful theological essays, stimulating discussions about theology-church-and-ministry, inspiring Lutheran worship, fantastic Lutheran church music, and wonderful fellowship among Lutherans, there is nothing in the LCMS like the Fort Wayne Symposia in January. The Saint Louis Symposia in September comes close, but the Saint Louis alumni have not attended their Symposia like the Fort Wayne-Springfield alumni have attended theirs. The recession has flattened attendance at both places, but the quality of presentations and worship has not been diminished, in my opinion.

    Both seminaries have not been afraid to invite speakers that disagree with the LCMS official “party line,” and always have some seminary professor willing to give our standard reply. Some of the most instructive, and moving speeches, have been given by non-LCMS lecturers over the years. So the Stephan speech, which I personally found quite interesting, was corrected by the McKenzie reply.

    Just as memorable for me are the many discussions with attendees, at meals, during coffee, in the bookstore, in the library, and in the dorm lounges when I stay there. Among the BJS regular bloggers (and their relatives) I met there this year included Johannes, Mollie’s dad, Pastor Henrickson, Pastor Klemet Preus, and Pastor Scheer.

    Also impressive, to me, are so many international Lutheran guests and students. I remember meeting or seeing Bishop Vanags of Latvia, the first Lutheran pastor of Indonesia (recently ordained by Vanags), Dr. Weinrich (professor at the Latvian seminary), the son of Bishop Obare of Kenya, an international sem student from Ghana, a pastor from Brazil, and others from Haiti, India, Siberia, and Korea.

    Finally, it is always good (and encouraging) to see so many old friends from around the country, to catch up on what is going on with them and their families, and their various ministries in the church.

    Many thanks to President Wenthe, Dr. Scaer, Kara Mertz, and the CTS faculty and staff for hosting another splendid conference!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  9. @Johannes #59
    It calls to mind that great punch line: “…there’s got to be a pony in here someplace!”

    1. I remember Reagan.
    2. You can find almost anything on google these days. LOL!

  10. helen :@Johannes #59 It calls to mind that great punch line: “…there’s got to be a pony in here someplace!”
    1. I remember Reagan.2. You can find almost anything on google these days. LOL!

    Too bad–I was looking forward to sharing it with you.

    J

  11. You did, Johannes. 🙂

    We handed Matt Harrison an Augean Stable with the cattle resident. Hope he can find the pony!

  12. @Rev. Matthew J. Uttenreither #21
    I agree, and I think Pres. Harrison’s remark concerning the CHI highlighted that. And it would probably be best coming from a non-“LCMS’er”, as no matter who does it, it seems as though it would be labeled by one party or the other, as taking a side.

  13. @Craig Nehring #64

    Re Walther’s legacy, a Canadian Pastor has suggested that an accurate English translation of Kirche und Amt, First Edition, would be the place to start, since Pastors are presently required to subscribe to that Edition, which is only existent in German.

  14. @Martin R. Noland #60
    RE: The first Lutheran pastor of Indonesia (recently ordained by Vanags)

    The name is Ery Rumengan. Have we met in person at the Symposia? Sorry for my bad memory. Anyway, thank you much for mentioned about us, “The international Lutheran Guests” (smile). In Cristo +++

  15. @helen #65

    Pastors are presently required to subscribe to that Edition, which is only existent in German.

    Walther’s 1852 book is not specifically mentioned in ordination vows; however pastors, as well as professors, teachers, congregations, and others, when they voluntarily subscribe to the constitution as members of the Missouri Synod, agree to honor and uphold C. F. W. Walther’s The Voice of Our Church on the Question of Church and Ministry as the official position of the LCMS and the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry, and they agree to teach in accordance with them.

    While there had been some loose and gossipy talk among some Missouri Synod members a few months ago attempting to defame Prof. J.T. Mueller and discredit his English translation of Kirche und Amt, I was assured in December by a very high Synodical official that “J.T.’s translation of Walther does not change the essence of Walther’s magisterial treatment, which is the dogma of Synod, and my own.”

  16. @Carl Vehse #68
    “J.T.’s translation of Walther does not change the essence of Walther’s magisterial treatment, which is the dogma of Synod, and my own.”

    The question raised elsewhere was whether Walther’s paper changed from the First Edition to the Third. I understood (you may correct) that Mueller translated the Third Ed.

  17. The person who raised the question elsewhere can easily (if interested) compare the original German theses on church and ministry (in Appendix I) from C.F.W. Walther’s 1852 edition of Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt along with five English translations (in Appendix II) by August Graebner (1897), W.H.T. Dau (1938), Theodore G. Tappert (1972), and John Drickamer (1981). One can also compare the Theses in the 1852 edition with the theses in the 1875 German edition of Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt.

    The original prefaces to the 1852 edition, the 1865 edition and the 1875 edition are included both in the 1875 edition as well as in J.T. Mueller’s Church and Ministry, which also includes Mueller’s own preface acknowledging the assistance, counseling, and research of Dr. Lewis Spitz, Prof. Lorenz Wunderlich, and Rev. August Suelflow in his translation.

    In the 1865 Preface, Walther notes correction of errata, deletion of some previous repetitions, and the additions of new quotations. Two indexes were also added. In the 1875 Preface, Walther notes some deletions of errata previously overlooked, as well as the addition of some Greek originals where previously only Latin patristic quotations were given.

    In Walther and the Church (W.M. Dallmann, W.H.T. Dau, and Th. Engelder, CPH, 1938), W.H.T. Dau notes in introducing his translation of Walther: “To make him talk intelligent English and to speak idiomatically in our tongue, his ponderous, formidably involved clauses have had to be taken apart wherever this was at all feasible…. Another difficulty which the translator encountered – and the reader will encounter – is this: Walther’s proof-texts are quoted from Luther’s German Bible. This differs from the English King James Version, as everybody knows who has had to work with both renderings.” Dau goes on to discuss several examples.

  18. @Carl Vehse #70
    The person who raised the question elsewhere can easily (if interested) compare the original German theses on church and ministry (in Appendix I) from C.F.W. Walther’s 1852 edition of Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt

    Not easily; the substance of his objection is that people who are not fluent in German are supposed to subscribe to the First Edition, which (he says) has never been rendered in English.
    If this is so, it does seem like translation of that edition is about 70 years overdue (and counting). 🙂

  19. Not easily; the substance of his objection is that people who are not fluent in German are supposed to subscribe to the First Edition, which (he says) has never been rendered in English.

    Maybe the man can note in his synodical membership application that he is subscribing instead to the Third Edition. Perhaps he might check the notes he wrote in his seminary class (or in his personal copy of C&M) to recall what his professors, in teaching the doctrine of church and ministry, pointed out as the textual differences between the First and Third Editions. Or maybe he can claim he is subscribing to Walther’s original handwritten autograph, and not to subsequent third party book printings.

    Easier still, he can just cross his fingers when signing the application and then proceed to mock and ridicule Walther’s theses and Missouri Synod polity while elevating Loehe’s heterodoxies on various Lutheran blogs… because – let’s face it – what are the odds a synod or district president is ever going to hold him accountable to the synodical position on church and ministry.

    But let’s NOT suggest the synodical applicant get off his keister and put in a little effort to understand a doctrine of church and ministry he is supposed to honor and uphold and teach his congregation in accordance with it.

  20. @Ery Rumengan #67

    Dear Pastor Rumengan,

    Thank you for your comment. We were introduced briefly in passing by Pastor Hampton, who is a mutual acquaintance. I think we were at a lunch together, with about a dozen other people, and you were on the other side of the table. I saw you again when President Wenthe introduced you at the banquet.

    We are very encouraged to hear of the work done in Indonesia by you and your friends, and now you are ordained too! God blesses his faithful children when they preach his Word faithfully and administer Christ’s sacraments according to His order. You are living proof of that. May our Lord bless your ministry as you hand-on what you have received to others (2 Timothy 1:13-14, 2:2)!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  21. @Carl Vehse #72
    But let’s NOT suggest the synodical applicant get off his keister and put in a little effort to understand a doctrine of church and ministry he is supposed to honor and uphold and teach his congregation in accordance with it.

    Now, Rick, we’re in an English speaking age.
    I think it’s fair to suggest that the original [handwritten autograph, if you please] be high on the list for translation into English.

    As for the rest of your comments: who said anything to “mock Walther” or “elevate Loehe” ?
    It didn’t come up in the off line discussion!
    [I don’t know who’s contributing to the blogs you read; I haven’t seen him on my short list.]

  22. Helen, there’s no problem with having an English translation of the First Edition, but in the 2001 Res. 7-17A, while it does mention that Walther’s book was published in 1852, there is nothing in the Resolved that adopts a specific edition but instead the resolution recognizes C. F. W. Walther’s book, The Voice of Our Church on the Question of Church and Ministry, as the official position of the LCMS. That would apply to any of Walther’s editions.

    No one is seriously expecting Missouri Synod members to honor, uphold, and teach misspellings or erroneous replications in earlier print editions, or not to consider additional references or original Greek patristic quotations replacing Latin translations.

    So, the question raised elsewhere by someone as to whether Walther’s paper changed from the First Edition to the Third can be answered with:

    1. No, the theses did not change;
    2. No, the doctrinal content of Walther’s book did not change, even though some errata was deleted or corrected and updates of some patristic quotations occurred.
    3. No, synodical members are still to honor and uphold C. F. W. Walther’s The Voice of Our Church on the Question of Church and Ministry (whatever edition) as the official position of the LCMS and the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry, and they agree to teach in accordance with it.

  23. In his December 3rd, 2010 at 12:40 BJS post, Norm Fisher quotes from a link to a Facebook social network page (since deleted) that Harrison is doing an “edit/re-translation of J.T. Mueller’s translation of C.F.W. Walther’s ‘Kirche und Amt’“. This perhaps suggests the same 1875 edition is being used.

    Maybe the errata corrections and additions/deletions noted in the Prefaces to the 1865 and 1875 editions will be specifically identified in a new translation.

    I would hope that a new translation also comes with a large index and a scriptural index as well. In the meantime CPH is still selling J.T. Mueller’s Church and Ministry.

  24. Earlier in this thread there were some discussions of the CTS Symposium presentation by Dr. Philip Stephan based on his 2008 book about his ancestor, Martin Stephan, deposed by his fellow Missouri Saxons at the end of May, 1839.

    During a later panel discussion, CTS Prof. Cameron MacKenzie disputed some of Philip Stephan’s claims in his presentation and in his book.

    In the Winter 2009-2010 issue of Concordia Historical Insntitute Quarterly, Prof. MacKenzie has a review of Stephan’s book. MacKenzie’s review is posted in the Cyberbrethren blog, “A Repudiation of Sloppy Scholarship in a Deeply Flawed Book About Martin Stephan.”

    As stated in the Cyberbrethren introduction to Dr. MacKenzie’s book review, “It is sad that there are just enough people in The LCMS willing to buy into this nonsense that the man, who has no credentials as a historian, and chose to leave The LCMS and join the ELCA, is given a serious hearing.”

  25. I listened to Dr. Stephan’s presentation, read his book when Scaer gave it to me to look at in 2009, and found it interesting. Stephan no where implies Bishop Stephan was without flaw nor does he hide his own desire to seek some redress of his ancestor’s fate. The audience was polite to someone who is not an historian and whose paper was not very tightly written. Certainly the way the charges against Stephan were handled and the quick boat ride across the Mississippi put things out of sight in the hope that it would be out of mind more than dealing with the substance of those charges.

    I very much appreciated the humor of Dr. Noland who indicated he had been given a boat ride across the river, too, and of Pres. Harrison’s quip that the CHI still has the boat and that from time to time it is shown to the current occupant of the President’s Office.

    I too found it strange that the arguments over the confession of the woman were the main focus of the questions about Stephan’s failing and the response of Walther and the others to it. Red herring!

    To those so bent out of shape, lighten up. The point is that this was not a bright shining moment in Missouri’s history — not for Stephan, not for those who betrayed Louise Guenthner’s confession, not for Walther and those who thought a boat ride would make it all go away, and not for a Missouri so intent upon enhancing Walther’s reputation that they cannot admit the flaw and failings of this moment.

    I have only been to one St. Louis symposium and was somewhat disappointed — not so much in the presenters but in the lack of comradery and fun that is always so evident at Ft. Wayne. Plus, no offense to my friend Henry Gerike, the worship life at the Ft. Wayne chapel is without equal in all of Synod and all of American Lutheranism.

  26. “Stephan no where implies Bishop Stephan was without flaw”

    In the pragmatics of language, this denying the negative is not quite the same as asserting the positive; thus the statement above is not the same as saying Philip Stephan implies that Martin Stephan had flaws (and in particular adultery, false doctrine, and mismanagement of funds, for which he was deposed).

    No one “betrayed” Louise Guenther’s confession. On June 4-5, 1839, after Stephan had been deposed and exiled, Louise Guenther signed a written statement, after questioning by Lawyer Adolph Marbach at a Council meeting, that she was involved in an adulterous affair with Martin Stephan over the past 8 years.

    Philip Stephan’s claim (p. 180) that Louise Gunther confessed on Rogate Sunday is totally unsubstantiated. Furthermore Stephan dismisses as gossip any claimed confessions by other named women on or shortly after Rogate Sunday. Because the signed confession of Louise Guenther is at Concordia Historical Institute (presumably under lock and key if any Stephanites are nearby), Philip Stephan is left with trying to discredit that confession by claiming what Louise said on Rogate Sunday in St. Louis is under the seal of the confessional and cannot be used without discrediting Stephan’s assistants (who in 1847 were the founding fathers of the Missouri Synod).

    However, from accounts by Dr. Vehse and Gotthold Guenther, and noted by Forster (p. 415), Louise Guenther most likely had left St. Louis at the end of April to go to Perry County with Martin Stephan who went to oversee the completion of his house there. Stephan and Louise remained there until Stephan was deposed at the end of May. Louise was questioned the following week, and before she could be sent back to her father in St. Louis fled to Stephan in Illinois.

  27. Since they are not listed in the Saxon Immigration Collection, 1811-1962, a worthwhile task of some St. Louis historian would be to track down and locate the 1839 passenger manifests for the sidewheel steamboats, United States, Prairie, and Toledo. The first was booked by Stephan and his entourage to travel from St. Louis on April 26 down to Perry County. The steamboat captain was so annoyed with Stephan’s outrageous behavior and demands, he jacked up the fares for the St. Louis Saxons at the end of May so that they had to travel to Perry County on May 29 in the latter two steamboats. If Louise Guenther’s name is on the passenger list for the United States, Philip Stephan’s claim goes down the tubes.

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