Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ft. Wayne Symposium.

I just returned the day before yesterday from the Ft. Wayne symposium.  It was very nice to see a lot of you there.  If you didn't attend, I would encourage you to look up some of the lectures on the internet (I believe they are posted online).  There were a number of highlights.  Rev. Dr. Ben Mayes gave a well argued reinterpretation of J.A. Grabau's theology of Church and ministry.  I especially admired it because of its careful historical methodology and attention to Grabau's use of certain scholastic terminology which was misunderstood by later generations of scholars.  I was also pleased with David Scaer's lecture this year about the third use of the law.  And of course it was nice to see President Harrison and listen to him preach on the Christological unity of Scripture.

The "Stephanite"'s lecture was for me a bit anti-climatic.  First of all, his lecture style was not really great.  He read his notes with his eyes away from the audience.  Also, his argument wasn't convincing.  The gist of it was something like: "Well, Walther wasn't as good as you thought he was because he tried to kidnap his nephew and niece, and women may have said Stephan slept with them, but the other Church leaders were too quick in their rush to judgment because they were already mad at him for other reasons."  The whole discussion was actually quite psychologizing- which makes sense because the guy was a psychologist.  This had also the unfortunate effect of being a bit speculative also.  Good history doesn't work, in my opinion, by figuring out hidden psychological motives.  I found it somewhat amusing that his book was being sold in Loehe Hall and I don't think I observed a single copy move from the table the entire time I was there.  I unfortunately couldn't stay for the Q & A and the panel, which I think might have been more interesting.  If anyone saw it and it was really something, please post something about it.


  1. The panel wasn't too interesting. A few people asked Dr. Phil Stephan some questions, but he didn't have ready answers.

  2. Jack,

    I couldn't find the lectures online, perhaps one of the readers of your blog would be so kind as to provide a link.

    Fr. John W. Berg

  3. The previous symposiums are on iTunes, so I'm guessing it won't be long before this one is as well.

  4. "Well, Walther wasn't as good as you thought he was because he tried to kidnap his nephew and niece, and women may have said Stephan slept with them, but the other Church leaders were too quick in their rush to judgment because they were already mad at him for other reasons."

    Well, there were arrest warrants issued against Carl F. W. Walther and his brother, Otto Hermann, on kidnapping complaints made by Johann Gottlieb Engel, the guardian of the Schubert children, Theodor, 10, and Marie, 15, after their father and mother (the sister of the Walters) both died. Engel was married to another Walther sister.

    Predictably, Philip Stephan did a lot of tapdancing about how Martin Stephan supposedly had nothing to do (or had any knowledge) about allowing the teenaged Marie and her brother to remain on the Oblers with Martin, while he refused to allow the widowed Christiane Buenger, mother of several children, when she had the chance before ending up in the Bremen hoosegow. Martin then gave permission for Johann, 28, and Agnes, 19, to stay behind with their mother.

    According to Gotthold Guenther's The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America (p.36) one of the women who stayed in Martin's St. Louis residence and attended to his physical needs was the young Marie Schubert.

  5. One of many dubious historical claims by Philip Stephan, which was again questioned at the panel discussion, was that Louise Guenther was the one who initially confessed on May 5th after hearing Loeber's sermon.

    According to Louise's brother, Gotthold Guenther, in his The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America, at the end of April Stephan travelled to Perry County to oversee construction on his new mansion while leaving a few women behind in St. Louis among growing Saxon discontent, fueled by awareness of Stephan's extravagant lifestyle and continuing articles in the Anzeiger des Westens. It was at least some of these women left in St. Louis, and not Louise, who went to Loeber on May 5.

    In his (Zion on the Misissippi, p. 415), Walter Forster notes from Dr. Vehse's account that when the Saxons from St. Louis landed in Perry County on May 29, they saw Louise there and tried to hold her, but she fled to the house (or "seraglio," as Forster described it) where Stephan was staying.

    Ultimately Louise Guenther’s interrogation by Attorney Marbach and the Council who deposed Martin Stephan and her confession were not done until June 4 and 5, 1839, after Stephan had been expelled by the Missouri Saxons. Louise freely confessed and signed in writing to having an adulterous affair for the past eight years with Stephan (who had left his wife and seven daughters in Germany). While the Council debated on whether to send the 31-year old Louise back to her father in St. Louis (as Dr. Vehse and others suggested), Louise managed to leave the group and flee to Illinois joining Stephan and remaining with him until his death in 1846.

    In his talk (and in his book) Philip Stephan relies repeatedly on one reference (especially on claims for which no other references are listed) - Frederick William (Wilhelm Friedrich) Koepchen’s unpublished manuscript, “Martin Stephan and the Saxon Emigration of 1838.” Rev. Koepchen was a pastor at St. Luke’s Church in New York City in the early 20th century, when he began preparing a manuscript for the centennial anniversary of the 1838 Saxon Emigration. When Rev. Koepchen died, either in 1935 (per Stephan, p. 5) or in 1936 (per CHI), his collaborator and editor who ended up completing the manuscript was none other than... Rev. Theodore M. Stephan, the grandson of Martin Stephan III. Rev. Theodore Stephan also wrote in 1929 another unpublished manuscript used repeatedly as a reference in Philip Stephan’s book.

    Thus Philip Stephan’s book is critically dependent on claims made in an unpublished manuscript, which was finally edited and completed by Theodore Stephan, the grandson of Martin Stephan, based in part on documents contributed by a number of Stephan ancestors.

  6. Carl- Thanks for the information. Also regarding the question of how to get the material online, I don't believe it is yet. Nevertheless, I'm certain as one the post above mentions that it will be in MP3 form soon.

  7. Dr Kilcrease - Our church held a seminar with Dr. Rast on Saturday (he is an excellent historian.) During the break, I asked him when CTS would post the papers given at Symposium. His response was the process would take approximately one month - but they eventually would be accessible at CTSFW Media.

  8. Dennis- Thanks for the info. I believe I saw you there and I should have come up and said hello. Hopefully we can touch base next year. All the best, Jack.