* BOOK REVIEW: SELECTED SERMONS of E. Schaller
Those who read essays rehearsing the history of the CLC (see summation articles in the Spokesman during 2000, the 40th anniversary year of the synod) will find that little mention is made of human instruments used by God to guide and direct, shape and mold the young synod. As one old enough (young enough?) to have lived through those early years, this writer remembers comments made to the effect that names were omitted from CLC historical annals purposefully. The good intention was that any and all glory belongs to God for what may have been accomplished in His name.
We understand and appreciate the point. Yet the Scriptures themselves assert another viewpoint. It is, on the one hand, incumbent on the older generation to convey scriptural truth to the up-coming one (“Train up a child in the way he should go . . . “, Prov. 22:6). It is, at the same time, incumbent on the current generation to remember those who were used by God in the past to guide and direct, shape and mold the present (“Remember those . . . who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow . . . “, Heb. 13:7).
As a seminary student and fledgling minister of the gospel in the ’60’s, we “remember” one who spoke the Word of God to us. We refer to Pastor/Professor Egbert Schaller (1904-1971). Since we remember in particular his homiletical (“putting a sermon together”) gifts, we are especially thankful for a new booklet titled SELECTED SERMONS of E. Schaller. The project of gathering these sermons into booklet form was undertaken by a son-in-law and daughter of E. Schaller, Paul and Anne Koch of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
A copy of the booklet was provided for our review. Its Foreword suggests reasons why also present-day CLC’ers will appreciate what God provided the church in this gifted and dedicated servant: “(E. Schaller) earned the esteem of his contemporaries as a mainstay during doctrinal controversy, served as one of the theological founders of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, and supplied spiritual nourishment for the flourishing of Christian faith-living wherever he spoke. Those who knew E. Schaller as pastor, teacher, colleague, and friend will agree with the testimony of the Lord that ‘his works do follow him’ . . . .”
A biographical sketch at the close of the booklet expands a bit: “As conditions worsened in the Synodical Conference, in willing obedience to his Lord’s directive (Romans 16:17-18) [E. Schaller] severed fellowship with the WELS in 1959 and became one of the founding fathers of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. In this fellowship he flourished, as the Lord used his theological maturity to carry forward the cause of Scriptural confessionalism during his editorship of the CLC Journal of Theology and his chairmanship of the CLC Board of doctrine. His insightful presentations of God’s Word–whether in written form or from the lecturn in college and seminary courses at Immanuel Lutheran College of Eau Claire, Wis.,–were as edifying as his chapel talks and sermons.” [See excerpt (box) this month, and coming months.]
Bound with a plastic ring-binder, the booklet has 182 pages and contains thirty-nine sermons, most from the festival half of the church year and some “special occasion” sermons. Each sermon gives evidence that–as is stated in the scripture passage on the booklet cover–“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
The Foreword mentions that another booklet (featuring E. Schaller “Trinity Season” sermons) may be forthcoming. This reviewer hopes that the idea soon becomes a reality.
Copies of the festival-half sermons are available from Paul R. Koch, 3425 Morgan Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701-7023; e-mail: email@example.com. Current per copy prices are: One, $6.00; 2-5, $5.50; 6 or more, $5.00. All price quotations are “postpaid.”
EXCERPT: SELECTED SERMONS of E. Schaller
Palm Sunday/Confirmation Sermon; Scripture text: 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
” . . . Perhaps you have noticed that we are treating you like treasures today, as very valuable people. Just see the preparations made here for you–the floral decorations, your robes, the large gathering of friends and relatives. Does that mean something? Yes, indeed. We are looking ahead. We are thinking of ourselves, too, and we want you to know what we are thinking. Some day, all that we have now here on earth, even our property and our jewels–will be gone. It will be burned in the fires of Judgment Day. We are wise enough to know that. But when that day comes, we still expect to have saved something from this world, something more beautiful than houses and jewelry. Yes, we are looking at you. we expect to be very happy and rich when we stand before Christ’s throne and find you standing alongside of us. . . . “
” . . . The very best product that earth contains is a true Christian. There is nothing like such a royal person; he is like a crown-prince, because he is the child of God by faith in Jesus, and he is walking straight for the open door of heaven. His sins are forgiven. He has peace with God. There is nothing so beautiful as a converted sinner, an instructed Christian whose mind and heart is stocked with Bible passages and hymn verses, who knows what he believes and why he believes it. How blessed are they who can say. ‘We brought the Word to these young people; we instructed these Christians. . . ‘” (pp. 100-101)
* FOUNDER OF THE CONFESSIONAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF JAPAN COMPLETES HIS MISSION (Frederick George Tiefel, July 28, 1914-September 13, 2000)
(Editor’s note: We thank Spokesman Reporter Rollin A. Reim for his considerable assistance in this report.)
In October, 1951, in the midst of the Korean War, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod called the Rev. Fred Tiefel as Civilian Chaplain to military personal in Yokohama, Japan. Sixteen months later his call directed him to establish a Christian congregation in Tokyo. This began a solid Lutheran gospel ministry of forty-seven years among the Japanese.
The discernible fruit of those labors today is the established Church of the Lutheran Confession of Japan, which centers its work in a congregation located in Tokyo. This church is now served by the Rev. Kazuo Sano, a longtime colleague in the Holy Ministry. Also continuing in staff service there is Tiefel’s adopted daughter, Miss Watanabe Kumika, who had assisted him for twenty-five years.
“Teacher” Tiefel (as he was known in Tokyo) was a prominent figure in early CLC life. Forty years ago he had, for confessional reasons, also left his former fellowship. For fifteen years he gave the American CLC its first opportunity to participate in a foreign mission endeavor as an “affiliate” by way of prayer and financial support. The CLC of Japan has by design been an entity independent of foreign management, truly an “indigenous” church. Tiefel-san sensed the need for this in the political climate of the field in which he labored.
Since 1975 a doctrinal division between the CLC of Japan and the American CLC has existed, disallowing the practice of religious fellowship between the synods. In the debate about the place and use of the Mosaic Law in gospel ministry, efforts to find a mutually acceptable confessional statement on the subject have not been successful.
We join in thanking God for the gracious working of His Word and Spirit in Japan and pray that He will continue to bring the gospel to them. “Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.”