C.F.W Walther is going to have a birthday. The father of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod would be 200 years old this month. The drawing of him at the organ reminds me of the wonderful hymn he wrote called “He’s Risen, He’s Risen, Christ Jesus the Lord” sung to the tune of “My Darling Clementine” some say.
He has an interesting thing to say about so called “secret societies” or lodges as we call them today. I had a tour of a Masonic Temple the other night and that is what brought this to my mind. Walther is upset that many Christians were joining societies for the insurance back in the day. He also goes off on what he saw as the coming welfare State. He is probably spinning in his grace today. Here is a quote from “The Pastor’s Responsibility to Care for the Physical Needs of Members of his Congregation”Translated by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison
The zeal of congregations against the secret societies is completely pharisaic if it is not tied with sufficient concern for their poor and suffering. A Christian congregation can not simply claim that there are state funds for the poor and homes for them, which they also support. No Christian congregation should allow their poor to be cared for in this way. The state should much more see that it need not forcibly impose taxes for the poor in orderto maintain poor Christians, but only for those who have been forsaken by all the world. Christian congregations should view it as a disgrace to see their poor cared for by the secular state. In the so-called state churches, in which a confusion of the church and the state existed, it was a different matter. There the state institutions for the poor were essentially those of the church. Here, where church and state are strictly separated, the church should not allow its sole care for its poor to be taken away. If God already called upon the church of the old covenant that: “There shall be no beggars among you!” (Dt. 15:4), how much more does this apply to the church of the New Testament! If it dishonors God, if Christians among Christians have to go about as beggars because they are not provided with the necessities of life, so that Christ in them must go begging, what an insult must it be to the name Christian, if Christians close their hearts to their brothers, and they are forced to go begging from the loveless world!
I remember when I suggested that a congregation buy some groceries for a family that was having some difficulty. Someone stood up and asked, “wouldn’t that be setting a precedent?” Yea. I guess it would.