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I was able to do one of the things I enjoy doing and that is to get on a strange road and drive and see what’s out there. Between Wausau and Merrill Wisconsin and a little bit to the west is a spot called Berlin. it is not a town and it’s not a village but it is a historical site and a fascinating place to visit. It marks one
of the places where Lutherans, a part of the great Lutheran migration landed when they came to Wisconsin. In this particular spot it was Lutherans from Pomerania.  They call them old Germans, and they came to America out of the desire to not be forced to become part of the Union Church. Rather than worship with the Reformed, they would rather sell their possessions and move to America. Writers who studies such things were always a little bit surprised by the activity of these churches.  Among them it was said that each family owned their own set of Luthers works, and all were familiar with theological questions. They took their doctrines of church and ministry seriously. They took their belief in the confessions of the church seriously.  As one writer said about a particular community of  Germans, that
“it is not strange then that there are six churches there with three pastors, of whom one is independent, another belongs to the Iowa Synod, and another to the Missouri Synod.”  – Kate Everest, “Early Lutheran Immigration to Wisconsin”.
In a world in which doctrine is not considered important these old Lutherans seem strange. In a world in which it is more important to get along, their ability to discuss doctrine, and why it was important, is either weird, or refreshing depending upon your point of view.  They’re holding on to that Old Testament verse, that  all flesh is like grass: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord
endures forever.” challenges us today to go back and look at that word again, and try to understand what it is that they “got”, that we don’t.  In a world in which people will forsake doctrine and go to a church because it is across the street, these old Germans seem like fossils.  And yet the decline of the church in America today can be directly traced to the attitudes and behavior of their children’s children who are willing to go along to get along.

 

 

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