Walther, Carl Ferdinand William

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Lutheran theologian, founder of the Missouri Synod;b. Langenchursdorf, Germany, Oct. 25, 1811; d. St. Louis, Mo., May 7, 1887. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor. After attending the University of Leipzig, he accepted a call in 1836 as pastor at Braeunsdorf, Saxony, and was ordained there on Jan. 15, 1837. The following year he joined a large number of Saxon Lutherans who migrated to America rather than accept a union with the Reformed Church. Walther settled in Perry County, MO, where he established a Gymnasium that eventually grew into Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. In 1841 he accepted a call to Trinity Church, St. Louis, and in 1844 established Der Lutheraner, a religious periodical. In 1846 Walther began a series of meetings with Lutheran leaders that resulted in the formation of the Missouri Synod. He was chosen its first president at Chicago, IL; he also served as professor of theology at Concordia from 1850 until his death.

Walther's theological writings appeared chiefly in the quarterly Lehre und Wehre, which he founded at Concordia in 1855, and in his textbook, Pastoral Theology. He advocated traditional Lutheran doctrine, with emphasis on the binding force of Lutheran confessions and divine predilection as the cause of faith. His controversy with Adolph Grabau resulted in the union of the Missouri and Buffalo Synods in 1867, but the Ohio and Norwegian Synods separated from Missouri in 188182 over Walther's doctrine of predestination. In addition to his conservative impact on the Missouri Synods doctrinal position, Walther helped to shape its parochial school system, securing educational provisions for Englishspeaking Lutherans at the Synodal Conference of 1872.

Bibliography: d. h. steffens, Dr. Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther. w. g. polack, The Story of C. F. W. Walther. a. wentz, A Basic History of Lutheranism in America (Philadelphia 1955) bibliog.

[r. k. macmaster]