Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Theology (ThD)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

August Suelflow


The doctrine of the church has been a matter of theological controversy for the Missouri Synod through much of its history. The difficulties predate the origin of the Synod itself, and they continue in different forms into the last quarter of the twentieth century. In terms of both theological statement and practical application, no individual was more important for the Missouri Synod during its first third of a century of existence than C. F. W. Walther. As eminent an historian as Sydney E. Ahlstrom has even said that Walther was "probably the most influential figure in nineteenth-century Lutheranism in America.

Despite this situation no full length study has been written on the doctrine of the church in the writings of C. F. W. Walther. The German Lutheran theologian Hermann Sasse even asked who had really read Walther? While engaged in this research, this writer discussed the topic with a young pastor. The latter began to make strong and sharply critical statements about Walther and the doctrine which he had taught. Only after being asked several times about the extent of his familiarity with Walther's writings did he admit that he had read nothing by Walther himself. Clearly more people have been speaking about Walther than have been reading him, and the time is ripe for a full-length study of the doctrine of the church in Walther's writings.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.