Worth Looking Back At
It was 1965 when then editor of the Lutheran Spokesman Winfred Schaller Jr wrote a provocative series of articles entitled REMEMBER THE DAYS OF OLD The following words from the first article in the series (May 1965) help to explain the authors purpose: In several articles we wish to explore our heritage and make an attempt to understand ourselves in the light of our inheritance And we would view that heritage not only as a history of amazing and wonderful gifts from a merciful God but we would also see the bad elements the sins of the fathers which are also a part of our heritage For we must learn that that which has called forth the judgment of God will also call forth judgment on the CLC to the extent that we continue in the sins of the fathers We would learn the weaknesses of Missouri which go back 100 years or more and see how we carry those weaknesses; we would recognize all weakness sic in Wisconsin which we share; we would learn what wrong emphases the Norwegians transmitted to us We would try to discern our errors and faults that we may seek to be cleansed from them and kept from presumptuous sins.
Such searching through past history was both a bold and commendable undertaking particularly because many of the writer’s CLC peers we include layleaders in this assessment had lived through and thus personally experienced a large part of the period of synodical conference history to be reviewed They with the writer were not unaware of the rich heritage from which confessional Lutheranism had sprung in this country; they with the writer were not unaware of their personal and synodical weaknesses yes failings They with the writer knew where the strength lay for the future in a childlike submission to those things which the Savior says have been hidden… from the wise and prudent and been revealed… to babes (cf Mt 11:25ff).
Thirty years have passed. It is well, we think, for the new generation to be reminded, and to learn a little something about the concerns and attitudes of the former generation now fast disappearing from the scene. Schaller (Spokesman Editor from June 1958-August 1970; died 1983) had many gifts. Current readers may not be aware that it is due largely to his writing that we have the confessional statement Concerning Church Fellowship. Schaller composed the first draft of this writing which continues to this day an essential part of the doctrinal platform of the CLC.
The April 1983 issue of the Spokesman reports on Schaller’s death. The report includes the following: “In 1975… he took a colloquy and was received as a clergy member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod”. The report written by current staff member Rollin A. Reim, concludes with the observation that later in life Schaller “apparently no longer held to the convictions about fellowship which he so forthrightly expressed in Concerning Church Fellowship. Nevertheless this is also said: “We have reason to recall with profound gratitude what the Lord provided for us and the church-at-large through this man of stature during the time he was among us. Since he wrote so well there will be enduring benefit for many…”
Its in the spirit of those words that we pass along some exerpts from the second article in the series. Those who would be interested in reading the five unabridged articles, each of which are quite lengthy, please contact me.
— Paul Fleischer