Full Text for 'Triumph of Truth': A Footnote to the History of Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois (Text)

THE SPRINGFIELDER December 1971 Volume 35, Number 3 "Triumph Of Truth" S OJI11: lI1_:.\; C'LIhIB mountilins. Other ~IICII lllo~.~ mountains! 111 tl~c carI! (lays of thc ;~ssault on Mt. E\-erest, back in the 20's, one of thc forclnost cliillbers imtl challcngcrs of earth's loftiest peak-. 29,000 frct l>lus!--\\-as an Eilglisl~nlan bv the name of 3lallory. Hr ~~risl~ctl lligll on tllc illoulltaln. \vithin ibout n thousand feet of thc suinnlit. Obscl-1-crs bclon-, n.;~tching the 1)roqress of blallory and Irvinc, his climl~in? partncr, lost sight of the par when cloud covcr intcr\c'nc!tl. It \\.as the Inst contact. When the clinlhcrs failed to return. the\. \\.cbrc l~rcsurncti lost, nl>p;lrcnt ~ictims of the stupendous odds-- ici. slopcs. tli~~!illg height. intcnsc cold, i~lcredibly stronfi \rinds, all of' \\.hich s;~fcguartl hlt. E\.crcst's lofty isolation. The radio and wire report to the \vorltl \\.as short, tcl-sc. Included \\-ere thc epigrammatic \~ortls: "\\:hen Iilst scen? they \\-cre going strong for the top." Frjcdrich 13ri1nn \\.as not a lllou~~tain climber, but a man who nlovetl nlountai~ls. 'Tile stor!. of his remarkable life ant1 senrice in thc church is I)ricfl\- and interestingly toId by his grandson, Rev. riug~~st I;. Brilnn, who now lives in retirement at Pittsburgll, Pennsyl- 7 7 \Fanis. l lrr -I of Trrltlr, published durinfi Epipllanv, 197 1, is ;l translation ant1 adaptation f roln a German version, Zztnr ~edenke:~ clrl I'frrrr-cr t'ricr1ric.l~ Hrrlllz~, co~llpiled by a great granddaughter, hlrs. Gcrtrucl Eikmcier Riicker. Printcd in mimeograph form this inenlorial booklet inarkccl the 150th birthday observance of Fricdrich Brunn, in 1969, at Stecdcn (Saxony), Germany. "Triu1111~11 of Truth" is ;I fitting title. During the first part of the 19th cen turi., bitter religious struggles rent Europe, especially Germany, the hoart~and of the Reformation. At this time many of our forcbcars, including the Saxon band or group that settled around l'erry C:ountv and St. Louis, 3lissouri, emigrated to ~ln~erica, to cscapc oppression and religious disintegration. But . . . "Fricdrich Brunn was anlong those who stayed to fight it out jn the hon~cland. He also prepared and sent more than 200 young mcn to lin~erica, to become pastors of somc of the many new congregations formed by immigrant Germans, sorely in need of spiritual Ieadcrs. They completed their studies in the Anler- ican Scminr~ries. The hope was to provide, even in this distant Iand, thc purity of biblical and Christ-centered teaching for \\-hich so many, even among them, liacl fought in the home cout~tr\~ under the pressure of rationalism. . . . History repeats itself. but it need not repeat its mistakes." (p. 3) Brunn's "triumph of truth" followed the same pattern as Luther's. It was first a personal, deeply spiritual triumph of faith, then one \\?hich aifectcd thc cliurch \\-idel\-, in tcnsj\ el\. and cstcn- sively. Humanly speaking therc \\.as evci!. reason \.c.l~i. I~~~icdrich Brunn sllould hiivc continued in the ration;~listic stcps of Ilis f;ithcr, court pastor or chaplnin at Castlc Schaum?>ury, ;111o\it 7 5 mijcs 11orth of lViesbade~1 on the Lahn, a tributary of the Rllinc.. IAil;c illany another "advanced" thinlarntory school, at Steeden. If ever therc was i1 onc-111an cffort, started and grou~lded on faith, this was it. There \\-as 110 1i11:rncial I~clp, or even promise of it, from "Missouri" or an),o1ic1. c~lsc~, 10 get the institution off the ground. Brunn simply "beat thc buslics" lii~nself for the first contingent of students. Thb original sc1.c.11 li\.ed with his family, in the parsonage, and he lnunc.llcd his first classes of instl-uction in the church building in 186 1. 13csidcs gclicral subjects, there kvere also special catechetical trr~ini~lg :lnd instruction in Latin. It was a curriculu~n planned for proficicnc\. ill reading the Symbolical books of the Lutheran church. 'l'hc stutlcnts \\.ere expected to complete their seminary training in Arncric;l, cithcr at St. Louis or Springfield, usually with additional jwcpnra tor). i\.orl; at Ft. It'nyne. 13~ 1S65 this one-man project had already groivn to such l~rt.)l>ort'ions in size of student body that "R'Iissouri" sent financial help for thc crcction of an educational \\ling at the Steeden church. .7 I:\.entua11\. other instructors assisted Brunn, anlong them, for a time, I'astor ~knt-1. \\'vneken, son of Friedrich \Vyneken, onc of the founding fathers 'of the hrIissouri Synod. Later, aftcr his stint at Steeden. Hc~lry \\-yneken, ~ho had been born in the United States, rcturnccl to scr\.c \.'arious parishes and ultimately became a profcssor at Concortlia Theological Seminar!., Springfield, 1876- 1890. "Graduates" issued forth from Steeden until 1 886, allnost all of the more than 200 going to America to coml>lete their theological training ancl enter the A,lissouri Synod's ministry. The Trizi~1zph of 'I'rz~tlz reads like the "\Vho's \Vho" of "hlissouri," namcs of nlen who, under Goel, left an indelible imprint on the life and destiny of the Alissouri S!.nod. Sons, ancl sons' sons, followed in the train of the intrepid hanil "producctl in Steeden." Indeed, it would be difficult to cnlculatc cxactly thc total nuinber-pastors, professors, teachers- stemming from this shoestring effort. Not least among the "graduates" of Brunn's schtwl was Friedrich Pfotenhauer, for ycars the esteemed presiclcnt of thc AIissouri Synoci. One of Brunn's own grandsons, Arthur Brunn, scrved as vice-president of synod during \Vorld War I1 drlys. ilugt~st F. Brunn, author of The Trizi1~zp1z of Tr~lth, was an English District vice-president for nearly twenty vears. It was a yratcful C:. F. . \\laltller ~vho ncknowledgecl iA behalf of the synod that the young Incli from Steedell \\:crc a t~-ul\. ~iclflcss, dctli- cated, sincere corps of workers, ~vliosc spirit ant1 ~oni'cssion a1 lo!.;ll t!. bound then1 immediately niitl closcl~ to "h.lissou~.i" ill thy nu\\. land of their adoption, Of one li~ind and hcart wcre thcsc l..ut licriln LJII-isliirns on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Both hat1 to /)car the unpleasant accu- sations of having caused fr;lgmcntation nncl cli1.isiol.i in tllc CIILIYCII 11) their insisteilcc on purity of doctrine ant1 te;lclling. "But," in l:ru~ili's words, "the issue is not wliethcr thcrc arc quai-rcls alid scl~nratiolis." It was, as Brunn expressed it, remarkably simple, and I~asic.: If all Christians in thc world were united iii faith ailtl tloctriile ancl there were no sin, no error, no falsc tcnclliiig, this I\-o~~ltl be beautiful indeed. But this would bc ii tlrcam aid pul-o plinn- tasy. Sin and error are here to stay, aid will incre;iw until tlic end of the world, so that when Christ comcs agai~l llil will hardly find any true faith on carth. So \\.c ask: if sin ilntl crror are here, isn't it better to face ant1 colnbat tlicn~, tlinn tc) cover and hide the111 for the sake of l~eacc? . . . Tlicrt~ is no blessing in (compromise), for indiffercncc. to falsc: cloctrjiic iincl lack of healthy struggle against falsc teaching stunts tlic heart ;lnd conscience, undcrnlining loyalty to thc \iTor~l of God ;\lid finan-- ing away as a cancer at thc heart of the Church. The: I~ttlcs for the truth of God arc verily not a sign of clc~~tli ~i~ltl clcfcat in the church, but of life 311(1 growth! \\'here tlicrc is no st]-ugglc, thcrc is no life. (11. 5 1 f .) Brunil rcali~ed, of course, that there was no hlcs\iiig 111 scp'lr~i- tion either per se. Thus, fro111 Steeclen, 11c 1-eacllc1d out l~crsistcntl! for fello\\lship slid unity with like-minded Lutheran Christians. Fel- lowship with the Lutherans of the Brcslau spot1 camc into rc;llity, and eventually Brunn was ablc to expand the idea of indcpcntlcilt Lutheran congregations in Saxony also. This led, almost a ccnt~~ry ago now, to the founding of the E~ra~igelisrh-1.utlicrischc Freikirclic (Tlic Lutheran Free Church.) In the fall of 1970, at Stccden, n historic pastoral conference convened (at ivhich the undersigned was privilegctl to be prcscl~t), under the banner of "Luthcrisches Bekenntnis \.or 100 Jahrcn uncl Heutc." (Luthcran \Vitness 100 Years Ago and Today) Assembled at Steeden urcre pastors fr~nl the Lutheran Free Church, the Breslau Synod (Evangelisch-lutherische (altluth.) Kirclic), and the Iildc- pendent Lutlieran Churches ( Selbstzndige E\rangeliscl~-Lutherisdc Kirchc), in an effort to lay the groundwork and formulate theses for fashioning their already existing fellowship into one body under one name, consun11iiated now, as of October, 1 9 7 1 , in \Yittin#en-Hann- over. It was fitting that this meeting take place at Steeden, where over a century before Pastor Brunn had fought a valiant battle for purity and intcgrity in Lutheran theology ancl practice. This was to be the starting pint from which all cfforts towards expanded fellow- ship and church unity were to be sought. (Little wonder, too, that thc 197U confc.rcncc expresscrl grief and dis1~1ay orer "r\Jissouri's" fcllo\\ sliil> I\ it11 tllc iimerican L~~theran C11~1rch on a basis less than this!] JI ~\ils ill 11ursuit of unit\ that Brrllln had edited a cllurch paper throt~gl~ou t 111c \cars of his ministry. Ton-anls that same end he pre tlucc:d ant1 iin;lll!. published his largc Exl~ositioll of Lzlthcr's Cate- c*lzisl~r. It \\.;IS tlijs ~vorli, along with his doctriilal articles in his cllu~-ch juul-~~:il, \vliicl~ 11layed a 1:irge role in buildins a solid founda- tion for tllc Lu~licrun frcc ul~urches in Germany, an ~nfluencc which c.xtcndctl nlso to i\merica. "Ever\, mature Christian," said this great pastoral llcart, "should have the full treasure of divine truth in clear undcrst:rllding, \\.it11 t11c true faith founded on the whole truth re- vcnlcd b!- God and given us to preserve." (p. 57) l'astor 131-~11111 cxpericnccd the joy of celebrating fifty years in thc nl.inistri., a11 uilcommon and reniarkable attainment and blessillg of God in \-Sen of tlic rigorous, full lifc he had so selflessly devoted to thc 1-ord ai~ii M is church. Courageo~~s, resourceful, innovative-arc thc attrib~~tcs b!. ivhicll this trooper in the Lord's service may be described, a rca1 footslogger for thc I,ord, who never discarded his ccj~~ipmcn t , l,nrtic.~~Iarlv thc pure \lTord which God had entrusted to Ilini, :md n.l~o, nlicn 'life was ovcr, lap dorvn quietly on the steep ~nountain heights of lifc, his serving years over. Jndeed, "when last sccn, 11c \\.as going strong for the top!" Seldom has a nlan in our lnodcrn ern left ;I deeper imprint on Confessional Lutheran theology and church lifc, in his own homeland, and on "Rlissouri" through the \oLlng mcn hc sent into her service. Thc nrchi\,cs at Steeden, faithfully l>rescr\led and neatly ar- ranged b!, his great granddaughter, Rlrs. Gertrud Riicker, document the stor! of his life. "Rlay the testimony of his clear, biblical teaching rc~iiairl a signpost for the Lutheran Church and lead to true spiritual unity," ivrites Ilis grandson, August Brunn, in a concluding exhorta- tion. (11. 63) The Stecden church is one of history's remarkable markers, littlc notccl by the world perhaps, but deeply inscribed in the records of heaven. Out of this little church-a congregation originally built by one man's faithful preaching and into whose walls the same man's hands put much honest labor--there has gone forth a mighty surge of strength into the world for the sake of the pure Gospel and in bchalf of Lutheran Confessional purity and unity.