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Here is the heart of the Election Controversy in 19th century America, a conflict that divided brother from brother and caused C.F.W. Walther pain and grief near his life’s end.  Join us to understand better what was at stake in the conflict, what the sides were, and how conflict was handled for better or for worse.

Resources for further reading include:

Predestination by C.F.W. Walther

All Glory to God by C.F.W. Walther

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz

Episode: 94

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Join us for a comfy roundtable on the Apocrypha, outreach, zeal for the truth, and very small church bodies. This and more from your questions on the latest Conclave.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Regular Guests: Rev. Adam Koontz, Rev. David Appold, and Rev. Aaron Uphoff

Episode: 91

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The stories we tell about ourselves not only define our past, but also define our future.  We return to the Forgotten Era of the Missouri Synod to show that it was not a time of easy missions to ethnic enclaves, but a time of hard work and dedication despite serious obstacles.  Men like William Dallmann forged the future of the Missouri Synod through tireless work in a rapidly changing environment.  When we see the work it took to forge the Missouri Synod after the days of Walther, we will be driven to imitate their example and do the same in our current context.

Host: Rev. Willie Grills

Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz

Episode: 84

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Few men have made such an impact on American Christianity as Dr. Walter A. Maier.  From academics to radio to preaching, WAM’s influence reached far and wide.  WAM stands tall in the history of the LC-MS.  Join us as we discuss the life and techniques of the man Time magazine called “The Chrysostom of American Lutheranism.”

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Episode: 62

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The Synodical Conference not only broke over issues of fellowship, but also over a different understanding of the Word, which would lead to further problems in the Missouri Synod leading up to the walkout in 1974.  Dr. Braun joins us to talk about issues of Scripture, the breakup itself, and where the Wisconsin Synod has gone since the 1960s.

Dr. Braun’s book, A Tale of Two Synods, may be purchased here.

Host: Rev. Zelwyn Heide

Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz

Guest: Rev. Dr. Mark Braun, Professor of Theology, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI

Episode: 55

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When it began in 1872, C.F.W. Walther dreamed that the Synodical Conference might lead to organic unity among confessional Lutherans. When it ended in 1967, its demise drove a wedge between confessional Lutherans that persists to this day.  The Wisconsin Synod and the Missouri Synod were formerly in full fellowship with one another, but no longer.  Rev. Dr. Mark Braun joins us to discuss the tensions between the two synods which led to the final break.

Dr. Braun’s book, A Tale of Two Synods, may be purchased here.

Host: Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Guest: Rev. Dr. Mark Braun, Professor of Theology, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI
Episode: 55

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How does the past come to be forgotten? Maybe there are parts of our own past that we’ve forgotten. Join us to remember the period of Missouri’s greatest growth in the time between the Civil War and the Great Depression and to hear how we can think about our fathers in the faith and imitate their zeal for Christ.

Historical works mentioned in the podcast include:

Ebenezer: Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod During Three Quarters of a Century

The Concordia Cyclopedia

Walther’s Works: Predestination

The Synodical Conference: Ecumenical Endeavor

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 51

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Does how the church is run have anything to do with the gospel? David Henkel of the Tennessee Synod thought so. Check out this episode for discussion of his “Carolinian Herald of Liberty,” his manifesto for his synod’s polity and practice to ensure liberty in church and state.

The history of the Tennessee Synod, written by Socrates Henkel, can be found here.

The collected works of David Henkel, including the Carolinian Herald of Liberty, may be purchased here.

A free scan of an old copy of the Carolinian Herald may be found on the Internet Archive here.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 46

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You’ve probably never heard of the Tennessee Synod, but you definitely should know about these remarkable men of God. Listen to learn about this group that fought the good fight of faith and were the first to publish the entire Book of Concord in English.

The history of the Tennessee Synod, written by Socrates Henkel, can be found here.

The collected works of David Henkel, some of which we will discuss in future episodes on the Tennessee Synod, may be purchased here.

Hosts: Rev. Willie Grills and Rev. Zelwyn Heide
Regular Guest: Rev. Adam Koontz
Episode: 43

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The German Bible in America: An Exploration of the Religious and Cultural Legacy of the First European-Language Bible Printed in America by Don Yoder, ed. Patrick J. Donmoyer (Kutztown, PA: Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, 2016)

Few would guess that the first Bible printed in the thirteen colonies was John Eliot’s 1663 Indian Bible produced for the Christian Indians and for missionaries among other Algonquin tribes. Fewer still would guess that the first Bible in a European tongue printed in the colonies was not printed in English. Not until Robert Aitken’s 1782 printing in Philadelphia, after the colonies had broken away from the mother country and its restriction of Bible printing to Oxford and Cambridge, would an English Bible be printed here. Instead, the first European-language Bible and so much of the colonies’ and early America’s religious literature were printed in German. Christopher Sauer Sr.’s 1743 edition of the Luther Bible was printed in Germantown (then just outside Philadelphia and now a part of it) as he stated at the project’s outset in his 1741 Bekanntmachung, “We have also taken notice that people from Germany arrive here in the greatest poverty, and are still coming, who have not even a Bible, and are not able to get one.”

Don Yoder, the late folklorist of Pennsylvania Dutch culture and religion, produced this volume on the Bibles of German America from colonial times down to the nineteenth century and left some of it unfinished at his death. What Yoder did not have opportunity to cover, Patrick Donmoyer of Kutztown University’s Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center has fleshed out. The subject of German Bibles in America deserves far more attention than it has hitherto received, especially from so many American Lutherans whose heritage this is. The Luther Bible was the vastly predominant German translation of the Scriptures even for non-Lutheran Germans. Its competitors like the Swiss Froschauer Bible beloved of the Swiss Anabaptists did not seriously rival the Luther Bible for ubiquity.

Several elements will be of interest to our readers from this visually wonderful volume featuring so many beautiful editions, illustrations, and textual examples from two hundred years of printing. The material form and all the things in a Bible that are not strictly speaking the biblical text affect how we read Scripture, the connections we make, the mental images that impress themselves upon us, and much else about profitably understanding what we read.

  • German Bibles never lacked the Apocrypha.

In colonial and early republican America there are several beautiful examples of printed Bibles like the three editions of the Sauer family or the 1813 Somerset Bible of Frederick Goeb, a Lutheran minister who printed the first Bible west of the Appalachian Mountains in Somerset County, PA. One is unsurprised to find the Apocrypha printed in those texts. Yet even the barebones copies sent to Muhlenberg from the Canstein Bible Society in Halle for distribution to poor Germans contained the Apocrypha. The first edition of the German Bible without the Apocrypha that Yoder discusses was printed by the American Bible Society in 1849, an Anglo-American institution that did not print the Apocrypha in its own English editions.

  • German Bibles were copiously illustrated.

Relatively cheap copies could possess handmade fraktur drawings for bookplates or decoration. Weightier quarto or folio editions were always accompanied by engravings and later drawings, stereotypes, and lithographs. Scripture was always illustrated in great detail. This book is full of ravishing illustrations from the 1704 Merian Bible printed at Frankfurt-am-Main of Jesus’ baptism or unicorns standing next to Adam and Eve and from the 1726 Berleburg Bible brought to colonial Pennsylvania by radical Pietists with elaborate allegorical drawings of the Scriptures as the open door to the vision of the Lamb and of eternal life. This tradition was carried down to what Yoder calls the “Victorian family Bible,” the grandfather of contemporary study Bibles with scholarly articles and lithographs drawn from English Bibles.

  • German Bibles contained much besides the biblical text and illustrations of it.

Almost all copies had what is now called the “one-year” or “historic” lectionary, which one can find even today in all German Bibles printed by and for the Amish, who do not utilize the lectionary system. Such is the power of this tradition of including the readings for each Sunday and festival day that the above-mentioned ABS 1849 German edition sans Apocrypha did contain the standard lectionary readings. From 1805’s Jungmann Bible printed at Reading, PA a family register was included in nearly every Bible as well, and family charts and lists of family events metastasized throughout the nineteenth century as Bibles became repositories of all significant life information. Yoder mentions two court cases in which men established their own ages with reference to what was written in their fathers’ Bibles.

  • Widespread possession and regular use of the Bible were highly valued.

Many of the Amerikabriefe, letters written from the New World back to the German-speaking lands, mention the writer’s desire for a copy of the Scriptures. Lutheran and Reformed ministers in colonial Pennsylvania requested over and again that their overseers in the Old World would provide them with sufficient copies of the Scriptures to sell to the well-off and to distribute freely to the poor. Sauer’s own printing in 1743 sought subscribers so that some of the money raised from subscriptions could cover the cost of printing Bibles to be given away for free. The Bible was the basic text of the Lutheran and Reformed parochial schools that were everywhere in early German America.

And once the Scriptures were in a person’s hands, they were read. Pastor Brunnholtz of Philadelphia reported in 1752 that in his congregation “very many of them keep their hand-Bibles at hand during the sermon and Kinderlehre, and consult them eagerly so that I myself have often been cheered up when I see that through this they have been kept in attention thereby, also with the advantage, that they can repeat the sermon at home and can better remember the cite passages of the truths that are expounded.” Whether read in connection with the sermon or during the family meal, the Scriptures were for early German Americans in the words of Gottlob Jungmann’s Vorrede, “a Word of Atonement – yes, so that it may in the end prove itself the only means by which fallen human creatures may find access again to their GOD, to their Creator, yes, to their Redeemer.”