The Full Wiki

C. F. W. Walther: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

C. F. W. Walther
Walther cfw young.png
Born October 25, 1811
Died May 7, 1887 in St Louis, Missouri
Church Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Education University of Leipzig
Ordained January 15, 1837
Writings The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel
Congregations served Trinity Lutheran Church, St Louis, Missouri
Offices held President, LC-MS (1847-1850; 1864-1870)
President, Concordia Seminary
Spouse Emilie Buenger
P christianity.svg Christianity Portal
Luther's Seal
 Lutheranism portal

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (October 25, 1811 – May 7, 1887) was the first President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and its most influential theologian. He is commemorated by that church on its Calendar of Saints on May 7.


Walther's early life

Born a pastor's son in Langenchursdorf in the Kingdom of Saxony (part of modern-day Germany), Walther enrolled at the University of Leipzig to study theology in October 1829. He had to take six months off from the university due to a nearly-fatal lung disease; during the time off he acquainted himself with the works of Martin Luther, and became convinced that Luther's theology clearly taught the doctrines of Holy Scripture. After graduation, he worked for three years as a private tutor in the town of Kahla.

On January 15, 1837, he was ordained as a pastor in the town of Bräunsdorf, Saxony. He was soon at odds with the government of Saxony, because he believed it departed from the faith and practice of historic Lutheranism and promoted false doctrine.

Controversy over Stephan

Walther and many others who opposed the Saxon government's religious policies came together under the leadership of a pastor holding similar views, Martin Stephan from Dresden. In November 1838, 800 Saxon immigrants left for America, hoping for the freedom to practice their religious beliefs. The settlers arrived in New Orleans on January 5, 1839, and the majority of immigrants settled in the area of St. Louis, Missouri. Stephan served initially as the Bishop of the new settlement, but, having been charged with corruption and sexual misconduct, was swiftly expelled from the settlement, leaving Walther as one of the most well-respected clergymen remaining. Walther served as the minister at Dresden (later absorbed into the nearby town of Altenburg), in Perry County, Missouri until 1841, when he was called to be minister of his late brother's congregation in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Altenburg Debates

Following this crisis of leadership, considerable debate filled the settlement over the proper role of the church in the New World: was it a new church, or did it remain within the German Lutheran hierarchy? Walther's position, derived from his reading of Luther during a long convalescence, prevailed: this was a new church, free of prior strictures and structures.[1]

Walther's ministry

In May 1841 Walther became Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, a position he held until his death. Later that year, on September 21, he married Emilie Buenger; six children issued from this union.

On April 26, 1847, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod was founded. Walther served as its first president, a position he held from 1847 to 1850 and again from 1864 to 1878.

During his forty years of involvement in the church, Walther held several positions, including that of president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (founded at Perry County, Missouri in 1838), President of Concordia Theological Seminary, now of Fort Wayne, Indiana (1861), and founder of the St. Louis Lutheran Bible Society (1853). He also began and edited several Lutheran periodicals, including Der Lutheraner and Lehre und Wehre. He wrote a number of theological books; perhaps the best known is The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.

A late photo of Walther
Portrait of an elderly C. F. W. Walther

Walther also vigorously opposed the theologies of non-Lutheran denominations in America, the influence of the major secular philosophies and movements upon Lutheran thought and practice and defended the doctrinal and cultural heritage of the Lutheran Church.

He died in St. Louis on May 7, 1887, and was buried at Concordia Cemetery, where a mausoleum was later built in his honor.

See also


  • Bowden, Henry Warner. Dictionary of American Religious Biography. Westport, CT:Greenwood Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8371-8906-3.
  • Kolb, Robert A. and Thomas E. Manteufel, eds. Soli Deo Gloria: Essays on C. F. W. Walther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2000.
  • Suelflow, August Robert. Servant of the Word: The Life and Ministry of C.F.W. Walther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2001.
  • Walther, C. F. W. The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. W. H. T. Dau, trans. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986.
  • Walther, C. F. W. Church and Ministry. J. T. Mueller, trans. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1987.

External links


Religious titles
Preceded by
Church founded
First President
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Succeeded by
F. C. D. Wyneken
Preceded by
F. C. D. Wyneken
First President
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Succeeded by
H. C. Schwan

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address