Sermons and Papers

Karl Georg Stoeckhardt

His Life and Labor to Preserve Walther's Legacy

by Dan Woodring

Karl Georg Stoeckhardt, born February 17, 1842 in Chemnitz, Saxony, followed a lineage of Lutheran pastors that has been traced to the era of Lutheran orthodoxy. Five years after his birth, Stoeckhardt's father accepted a call to teach in Tharandt, Saxony. Here the young boy began his education in a private Lateinschule. In 1857, at the age of fifteen, he left home to attend the Fenrstenschule in Meissen, from which he graduated in 1862. His education was typical of those preparing to attend a university. He was a good student, and his diligence awarded him the opportunity to attend the University of Erlangen, where he studied theology. While there, he joined the "Wingolf," a friendship society of Christian students. In the fall of 1863, he transferred to the University of Leipzig to continue his theological studies. In 1865, Stoeckhardt's character as a confessional Lutheran was revealed when, in organizing a "Wingolf" society in Liepzig, he insisted that the constitution present a clear confession of Christ.

In 1866, Stoeckhardt passed his examen pro candidatura. But for him, this didn't mean an end to his education. During the summer, he traveled to Berlin to attend lectures at the University given by such men as Steinmeyer, Hengenstenberg, Dorner and von Ranke. He was very impressed by their teaching. Later that year he hoped to be teaching in Liepzig, but was prevented when he fell terribly ill. Having recovered late in the fall of that year, he traveled to Neuendettelsau to meet Pastor Wilhelm Lohe. It was here that he first became acquainted with the progress of the Lutheran Church in America. Evidently, Stoeckhardt was impressed by Lohe, since he made a second visit to Neuendettelsau two months later, just before Christmas.

After returning home, Stoeckhardt became the director of the Luisenstift, a deaconess academy in Tharandt. Here he had a full schedule of teaching religion, and also other subjects such as arithmetic and language. Although teaching religion was a source of great pleasure for him, he nonetheless realized the difficulty and importance of this task, he wrote:

From the few lectures thus far given I have learned that it is not so easy to teach the simple and clear truths of the Catechism and that it requires more thorough study in another way than is required for theological studies. It would be much easier for me to present to theological students dogmatic or exegetical material in scientific verbiage than to present the same matter to children in a childlike way. Nevertheless, I believe it to be good training to set aside the theological terminology and become a child again in thought and speech.

Later he wrote:

After a half year's probing of the material to be presented, and of the child's mind for which it is prepared, it becomes somewhat clearer to me what to incorporate and what to leave out. . . . Above all, we become more conscious of the grandeur of our Small Catechism. However, we begin to detect a deficiency, namely, that we possess by far too little knowledge of exegesis and Bible knowledge in general. Our Lutheran Catechism throughout is Biblical, i.e., not only Scriptural but replete with biblical imagery and interwoven with Bible language. And since every theologian must go through Catechism school, let him prepare himself with as much exegesis, especially Old Testament, as possible.

Evidence of Stoeckhardt's commitment to the Scriptures and Lutheran teaching are visible in these letters from his first year at the Luisenstift. During the summer recess, he once again took the place of pupil and attended lectures of August F. C. Vilmar at the University of Marburg. After the following school year, Stoeckhardt found himself facing an uncertain future since the Luisenstift was to be removed. He considered entering the East India Mission, but when he failed to gain the consent of his parents he made application to the position of instructor at the University of Erlangen. Since Stoeckhardt needed time to prepare in order to pass the examination required for this position, he accepted a call to serve as assistant pastor in Paris. This position would supply him with the needed opportunity to prepare.

Stoeckhardt arrived in Paris in June, 1870. The Franco-Prussian war broke out shortly thereafter. He was arrested twice as a German spy, but was allowed to stay until the beginning of September by a special dispensation of the governor of Paris. When it was no longer safe for him to stay in Paris, he served as a chaplain and medic on the battlefield of Sedan. Stoeckhardt estimated that 16,000 wounded soldiers were housed in the military hospitals in his area. After three months, when his work there had come to an end, he returned to Saxony to continue his academic work at Erlangen.

By May 1871, he had completed his dissertation, which was on Isaiah 8:20 - 9:6. It was accepted by the faculty, and he passed the oral exam in the following month. Thereafter, he became a private tutor in Old and New Testament exegesis at Erlangen from the winter semester of 1871 until the fall semester of 1873. At the same time, he worked on a dissertation that would earn him the degree of Licentiate of Theology. The topic was "The Son of Man." However, the Erlangen faculty rejected his dissertation, which they claimed was unscientific. That this does not suggest that his scholarship was inept or incomplete is shown by the fact that the University of Leipzig accepted the same dissertation shortly after its rejection at Erlangen. We rather see a refusal on the part of Stoeckhardt to agree with Erlangen's modern theological methodology which attempted to combine historic Lutheranism with new learning.

Leaving Erlangen, Stoeckhardt returned home to Saxony. There he received a call from the consistory to be a deacon in the State Church in Planitz, near Zwickau. He was inducted into the office on October 13,1873, less than one week after his marriage to Anna Koenig on October 7. Biegener suggests that Stoeckhardt was placed there to oppose Pastor Friedrich Carl Theodor Ruhland, who had been called from the Missouri Synod, to be pastor at St. John, a congregation that had separated from the State Church. Stoeckhardt, however, had his own problems to deal with. Maltz, who cites Otto Willkomm's biography as his source, states that "the general feeling of the people was against him," because they "reasoned that an individual as conservative as Stoeckhardt was, would surely stifle or deaden the growth the congregation had experienced." It was during his service in Planitz that Stoeckhardt published his first literary work, a book on the Small Catechism, The Salutary Doctrine or Exposition of Luther's Small Catechism, Especially for Use by Confirmands and for Repetition for Confirmation by G. Stoeckhardt. The book was not even out three years before Stoeckhardt publicly acknowledged and retracted many errors he had made in the book.

Although Stoeckhardt gradually won the support of his congregation in Planitz, a controversy over church discipline arose between Stoeckhardt and the State Church consistory. With one-hundred and eighty-one other clergymen, he petitioned the consistory to take action against the State Church policy which refused pastors the authority to suspend impenitent sinners from holy communion. During this time, he reviewed the principles that lay at the foundation of this issue by studying Scripture and material that had been published by the Missouri Synod which was dealing with this issue at that time. On June 6, 1876, when it became evident that his petition was being ignored, Stoeckhardt dissented from the consistory stating that they "had fundamentally an altogether different conception of sin and repentance, and therefore also of faith and justification, than the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions; yea, that it no longer really held to the material principle of the Lutheran faith." In response, the consistory immediately suspended him from office and threatened to have him defrocked. He responded by resigning his pastorate and leaving the State Church. This was not an easy decision for Stoeckhardt, nor did he make it lightly. Nonetheless, he came to see that leaving was necessitated by the Word of God. He wrote several years later, after coming to America:

This is the situation is the German State Church. There you find believers and manifest unbelievers blended into one mass, assuming the title of a congregation, a church. There you find unbelieving, wicked men, who scorn Christ and Christ's teachings, who live in sin and shame, who still possess rights with the church or set the tone and order and regulate matters according to their evil principles. . . . Opposition towards the Word commands, and the opponents constitute the majority and make the decisions in church affairs. What must happen under these and similar circumstances? . . . St. Paul writes in Second Corinthians: "Come out from among them and be ye separate."

Of the nearly two-hundred other pastors that began the fight by signing the petition, only one fought with him to the end. Stoeckhardt joined St. John where Ruhland was pastor. Eighteen families came with him from the State Church. Stoeckhardt was immediately chosen as associate pastor. On August 17, 1876, the independent churches of the area formed the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Saxony and other States. Ruhland was elected the first president, and Stoeckhardt, secretary. In the same year, Ruhland and Stoeckhardt, with the help of publisher Johannes Herrmann, founded the church paper Die Evangelisch-Lutherische Freikirche with Stoeckhardt as the editor.

In his very first editorial, he wrote concerning the establishment of the Free Church, and the wickedness within the State Church. Although a translation of this editorial is not available, Goerss summarizes:

[Stoeckhardt] claimed that the Free Church in Saxony was the church of Jesus Christ and no church sponsored by the state could claim to be Christ's church. He further stated that powerful heretics and liars had forced him and others out. As a matter of conscience he could no longer worship with these people. The lie of the State Church was that Lutheran and Reformed confessions could be tolerated in the same church. But truth and heresy could not be worn under the same hat. . . . The Free Church is the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy: "You shall know the truth." God kept His promise by giving to the Free Church the Word of God and Luther's teaching. The response of true Christians is one of thankfulness. . . . God sent the Word of God and it was recognized by Luther and stated in our confessions. The purpose of the Church is now to receive and to preserve the inheritance of the fathers. The Church should not add nor subtract but guard the truth against old and new errors. Preaching and teaching maintain this truth in congregations.

Stoeckhardt wrote persistently on the apostasy of the State Church. In the second year of publication of Die Ev.-Luth. Freikirche, he wrote: We are working with and among a people whom eagles are circling, ringed in by a church that is ripe for judgment. Yes, divine judgment has already made its beginning in the house of God. Growing delusion and obduracy are the surest indications of the approaching end, at least the end and downfall of the Gospel in our country. . . . . The Church has the calling and capability of saving the lost, of curing corruption. It is not deterring judgment but is rather accelerating the same, for it glosses over, adorns, and promotes the sin that is sending people to ruin.

Stoeckhardt's writing for Die Ev.-Luth. Freikirche was prolific. He wrote or co-wrote over eighty articles over his two and one-half years as editor. His articles were predominantly on the abuse in the State Church, but he also wrote exegetical articles on various pericopes and several pieces on doctrinal issues. He also wrote an address for the second convention of the Saxon Free Church on indifference. In this essay he stated the following points in outline:

1. Indifferentism is the cancer of modern Lutheranism which became an outgrowth of syncretism and unionism. That we have chosen to deal with this evil is because God's Word shows what an danger it is to our salvation.

2. Indifferentism is the indifference toward the Word of God and the revealed doctrine of Christ. It reveals itself: a) as indifference toward religion in general, b) as undervaluation of pure doctrine, c) as tolerant of false doctrine and false teachers, d) as tolerant of unscriptural practice, e) as mediation or reconciling and blending of falsehood and truth, f) as altar and church fellowship with the heterodox, g) as abandoning necessary Scriptural polemics. . . .

5. The orthodox Church of all times waged incessant war on indifferentism. She has always: testified for pure doctrine as her greatest treasure; separated from all false doctrine and false teachers; and has at all times been unfavorable to concessions to error and attempts at reconciliation. . . .

6. The terrible result and effect of indifferentism: a) It renders the ground of faith uncertain. b) Particularly obscures the atonement of Christ. c) Furthers growth of false doctrine. d) It robs the believers of the light of knowledge and the certainty of faith. . .

7. The only and sufficient antidote against indifferentism is the faithful and steadfast use of the Word of God; and the diligent and thorough-going practice of pure doctrine, particularly the doctrine of the total depravity of man and the doctrine of justification.

This unyielding position of Stoeckhardt caused the consistory to become outraged against him, and they charged him with blasphemy. Since he refused to be silent, the controversy intensified, and Stoeckhardt was finally imprisoned for several months. After he had served his sentence, he began to train boys and young men for progymnasium studies. This work ended in 1878 when no new pupils were announced. Although he still maintained his duties in regards to St. John and the free church, he sought a new field of labor. It then arose that another charge of blasphemy from the consistory was made against Stoeckhardt and his publisher Herrmann for a tract they had published. While this case was pending, Stoeckhardt received a call from Holy Cross, St. Louis, to fill the vacancy left by Pastor Theodore Brohm, who was retiring. A congregation in Dresden also was issuing a call to Stoeckhardt. But before the paperwork was completed and forwarded, he accepted the call to St. Louis. He left for the United States on August 22, 1878, leaving the pending lawsuit behind him. The case against him and Herrmann was finally called on May 12, 1879, and Stoeckhardt was sentenced to eight months in prison.

His Career in the Missouri Synod:

C. F. W. Walther had long desired to bring Stoeckhardt to America. Walther had been extremely disappointed only a few months earlier when a previous effort failed. Walther was well acquainted with Stoeckhardt through personal correspondence, and through their mutual friend, Pastor Ruhland. He expressed his feelings in a letter to Ruhland on May 23, 1878 written after the Delegatensynod in which a new professor for the seminary was elected:

This meeting was very grievous for me in as much as it became decided there that our dear Stoeckhardt would not be elected. . . . But yesterday the choice was made and a youth who had studied at Concordia was chosen. . . His name is Franz Pieper.

As chief pastor of the Gesamtgemeinde, which included Trinity, Zion, Immanuel, and Holy Cross, it was Walther's influence that finally brought Stoeckhardt to America. Walther expressed his joy and future plans for Stoeckhardt in a letter to J. A. Ottesen of Utica, Wisconsin.

It will please you, I think, to hear that our local district assembly has chosen Lic. Stoeckhardt for Pastor Brohm's successor. The Lord be praised. That thereby we, as we optimistically hope, will receive a superb university-preacher and seelsorger; in addition his excellent knowledge of the oriental languages will bring much good to our institution.

Before Stoeckhardt had even set foot on American soil, Walther hoped to Stoeckhardt's talents as a professor at the seminary. At the following convention (1881) Walther proposed the establishment of the position of professor extraordinarius at the Seminary. Stoeckhardt was the only nominee for this position, and was elected with no opposition.

Stoeckhardt was installed as pastor at Holy Cross on Oct. 13, 1878. Only five years (to the exact day!) had passed since his installation as deacon in the State Church. Although the controversy that had marked those years in Germany was now behind him, Stoeckhardt found himself in the midst of another battle that was dawning upon Missouri. The beginning of the Predestinarian Controversy was nearly coincident with the beginning of his pastorate. Stoeckhardt began to play a role in this controversy almost immediately, so much so, that Dau states that he "came to be known and appreciated as a theological leader even before his congregation had had time to fully discover his fine qualities as pastor and preacher." This, however, seems to be somewhat of an overstatement. Although Dau at this point lists many of Stoeckhardt's numerous literary contributions in regard to the controversy in a footnote, the earliest of these is dated May 1880, nearly a year and a half after his installation. One would think that this would be an ample amount of time for a congregation to become familiar with the qualities of their new pastor. The fact is that Stoeckhardt published very little in the first couple years at Holy Cross. In 1879 he wrote one series of articles for Der Lutheraner, three homiletical studies, and two announcements regarding the new St. Louis Edition of Walch's Luthers Werken. In 1880 he only wrote two articles, both on predestination. It wasn't until 1881 that he began to write in the capacity that he had in the Saxon Free Church. During the years 1881 and 1882, Stoeckhardt wrote more than five times the amount of material than he had the two previous years. The predominant theme for most of the articles, mostly in Lehre und Wehre, during the years 1881-82 is related to the controversy over election which was raging within American Lutheranism. It is noted that these the numerous exegetical articles by Stoeckhardt on this subject "were a strong factor in keeping the Missouri Synod united in its testimony, officially expressed in the theses on predestination adopted in 1881, which had been drafted by Walther." In fact, such articles by Stoeckhardt as "Scriptural Proof for the Doctrine of Election," "As Regards the Correct Understanding of Eph. 1," and "What does St. Paul Rom. 8, 28-30 Teach Concerning Election," made it clear that Walther's doctrine was not based upon the Lutheran dogmaticians as opposed to Holy Scripture, but rather that Walther and the Lutheran Fathers stood squarely on the Scriptures at this point. Walther credited Stoeckhardt with "standing like a wall" throughout this battle. A former student much later remarked that "of all the professors, [Stoeckhardt] used the most extreme language on the subject of predestination."

If the Missouri had misgivings concerning Stoeckhardt in 1878 when Walther at first tried to bring him to Concordia Seminary, those misgivings were put aside by the convention of 1881 when Walther suggested he be made professor extraordinarius. By that time he had become well known across the synod for his theological and exegetical acumen by his service in the Predestinarian Controversy.

Stoeckhardt was well known in the Seminary community even before he gained the position of professor extraordinarius. In the first place, the seminary was within the parish bounds of Holy Cross which placed the theological faculty and their families within the membership of that congregation. Also, at the time of Stoeckhardt's installation, the majority of students, nearly one hundred, were communicant members of Holy Cross. Dau reports that "Stoeckhardt's activity as a preacher was, from the start, given the widest scope, both extensively and intensively. Not only was the Lutheran population of St. Louis, virtually in its entirety, his audience, but within that audience there were men who ranked as preachers of considerable power themselves, and there was, besides, that assemblage of adolescent preachers, the seminary students, in their various stages of keryctic development, juniors, intermediaries, and seniors." One particular student, Theodore Buenger, a nephew of Dr. Walther, reminisces:

We had been attracted by [Stoeckhardt's] wonderful sermons when we came from the Vorhof der Heiden. At that time he was at Holy Cross. This congregation together with Trinity, Immanuel, and Zion formed together the so-called Gesamtgemeinde, whose four pastors exchanged pulpits every second Sunday in the morning and preached the same sermon in their own home congregation in the afternoon. I and some friends went a number of times to hear Stoeckhardt preach in the morning and heard the same sermon at Holy Cross in the afternoon. By evening we would have his sermon manuscripts in our hands . . .

In the second place, Stoeckhardt was well known at the seminary for serving as a lecturer prior to being called professor extraordinarius. He was listed among the faculty for the first time in the catalogue of 1878-79, Stoeckhardt's first year in America. Dau also reports that Stoeckhardt lectured on Hebrew exegesis at the seminary at least five times a week, but does not make it clear whether or not this is after he was called as professor extraordinarius in 1881. It was also during this time that Stoeckhardt organized a hospital mission-society with the aid of the graduating class in order to minister at the City Hospital.

Stoeckhardt began lecturing as professor extraordinarius in 1881, the year of Walther's seventieth birthday. Buenger recalls:

At Dr. Walther's seventieth birthday, which we celebrated together with Luther's, we had decorated one wall of the aula with 1483 in large garlands and the other wall with 1811. We called on Stoeckhardt for a Hebrew speech. He spoke Latin, we thinking and saying, Hebrew is too sacred for Stoecky to use it in a lighter vein. He said in his after dinner speech that at last he was able to decide that much-discussed question whether Luther was born 1483 or 1484. If one would add the last two digits of 1483, one could say that Luther was born anno eleven, just as Walther was born anno eleven, Walther was the greatest disciple Luther ever had in the world. So the question was not open any longer.

Stoeckhardt remained pastor at Holy Cross and professor extraordinarius at the Seminary until 1887, the year the Dr. Walther died. On May 6, 1887, Stoeckhardt, as his confessor, asked the dying Walther whether he were ready cheerfully to die, trusting in the grace of Jesus Christ who he had preached during his life. Walther answered with a loud and distinctive, "Yes." On the following day, the Synod lost it's foremost leader. Stoeckhardt spoke the closing words at Walther's bier:

What is the lesson that we glean from the life and death of this man? We glean from it fresh assurance that the grace wherein we stand, and which was testified unto us by our departed teacher, is the true grace. We are in possession of the truth, --the entire, undiminished truth,--because we know Christ crucified, and desire to hear nothing besides Him. Our departed teacher calls to us: `Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.'

In the wake of Walther's death, Stoeckhardt was quickly elected to the chair of exegetical theology at the Seminary. But what would become of the Missouri Synod after Walther's death? What would happen to the foundation of sound doctrine on which the Synod was build? In an article written for Lehre und Wehre shortly after the death of Walther, Stoeckhardt address questions such as these. He writes:

Lutheran Christians, who subscribe to "Der Lutheraner" . . . will not conceal the fact that their church, their synod, has reached a grave crisis. The deaths of the recent path are still fresh in our memories. The founders and former leaders of our synod have one by one gone home are now resting from their labors. Only a few of the original witnesses are still living. On the whole, the old generation, which saw and lived through the beginnings is dying off. A new generation is arising. Such a turning-point in time, such a change in the status of things and in personnel rouses us to serious contemplation.

Stoeckhardt then describes what God, who has richly blessed our synod during the first fifty years, desires of American Lutherans now and in the years to come, namely to preserve the gift that God has given them:

Those Lutherans who realize what they have received know well the adversaries who are anxious to tear the precious possession from them, know the dangers that threaten them and their church. If pure doctrine is confessed and is indigenous to a given locale, it is due to God's pure grace. It is God who by grace proffers true doctrine and knowledge. And what he grants us by grace, he wants also to preserve for us by grace. If pure doctrine disappears from a locale where it is indigenous it is man's fault. . . . And, of course, it is man's ingratitude that causes them to lose God's gift. The gravest danger we have to fear is ingratitude.

This ingratitude is manifest in indifference toward pure doctrine, and in worldliness, which follows when one no longer takes delight in God's pure Word. "Frivolous doctrine causes frivolous living." Stoeckhardt himself had witnessed the results of indifference in the State Church of Saxony. The Free Church was organized so that the pure doctrine of God's Word might be preserved in Christ's Church. What Stoeckhardt had begun in Germany, he continued in America. As Dau has pointed out, Stoeckhardt "plainly assigned to himself and his colleagues" the mission to help the Missouri Synod preserve it's heritage of pure Word and Sacrament.

Dau maintains that the close reader of many of Stoeckhardt's articles "will be impressed with the earnestness of the author of these spirited essays, and will feel throughout he is combating the evil of spiritual retrogression." For this reason, Stoeckhardt took it upon himself to write many clear essays on various doctrinal topics as well as on issues pertaining to congregational life and sanctification. In no way was he a theologian confined to one area theological expertise, even if his forte was exegesis.

In the years that followed his election to the chair of exegesis Stoeckhardt fought the battle of preservation in the seminary classroom and in his many articles and essays for the Synod at large. He took this task very seriously, for:

Today there are still such radical heretics, pernicious foes, who deliberately, with all the powers at their disposal, contend against the truth and campaign and propagandize for the lie. Of course, not all who spread abroad false doctrine are that evil and malicious. But without further ceremony we question the faith and Christianity of every teacher who deviates from the truth. In heterodox church bodies there certainly are many pastors who, although ensnared in the errors of their sects, are very sincere, who themselves are misled and deluded rather than making it their business to mislead others, who blindly follow the church leaders since they really don't know what they are doing. Nevertheless, in every case false doctrine is a soul-corrupting poison, no matter from whose mouth it is spewed.

In 1894, when Stoeckhardt became acting president of the seminary during a time when Pieper was unable to continue due to exhaustion from overwork he lay the seriousness of the pastoral task before the graduating class of that institution:

You have now completed your triennium, and now, after this time of preparation, follows the time of serious work. For in this time of unbelief and apostasy, in this time in which the congregation of God stands before so many dangers and temptations, the congregation of Christ is not to pasture, but to lead, protect and preserve. This is a serious, difficult task.

Stoeckhardt then shows the seriousness of life from events that have recently transpired:

You have carried two of your teachers to the grave, they were unexpectedly torn away from their labors and placed in eternal rest. It has also pleased God to interrupt for a considerable time the labor of another dear teacher. All of this reminds us, and it also must remind you, that our time and fate rests in God's hands, and that our days are numbered. It reminds us of the seriousness of life and death, of judgment and eternity.

But this is no reason to shrink away from the serious and difficult that lay before pastors, he continues:

Praise God! The theology that you here have learned, which from the beginning has been indigenous to this place, which God has entrusted to accompany our institution out of pure grace and compassion is comforting, this theology need not shy away from such serious consideration. . . . For when you employ this theology in your office, and the flock with which you have been entrusted, both old and new, receives that pure Word of God rightly divided, you are sowing for eternity.

Stoeckhardt saw the continuing study of Scripture as integral to the pastoral office. In his article on pastoral theology in Titus, he writes:

A pastor must not simply regard it as a good way to relax from his official duties when he can on occasion, in moments of leisure, engross himself in Scripture and theology. No, here he has God's command. The apostle of Jesus Christ makes the demand of every Christian bishop that he occupy himself constantly with doctrine and Scripture . . . . This quiet, solitary work in his study does not have the same glamour as other portions of his pastoral activity, as when the pastor has direct contact with the congregation and it's members, and is more tedious, demands more exertion and mental effort than any other official act. Therefore, a pastor is well nigh tempted to dispense with this duty and labor much more easily and much more quickly than with other official duties. But there he had better consider that the apostle, where he begins to set forth the real work of a bishop, mentions continuing pursuit of doctrine, of Scripture, as the main duty of a bishop and as a necessary basis and requisite for all wholesome speaking, teaching, exhorting, and rebuking.

To remain fit in pure doctrine is a duty of every Christian pastor so that through the Word of truth all believers may have the comfort of the certainty of everlasting salvation through Jesus Christ. It was to this end that Stoeckhardt himself labored, and placed this task before his students as well, and not only to the students of Concordia Seminary, but across the entire Missouri Synod, which had become his pupils through the various Synodical periodicals. In addition, his labors were also recognized by Lutherans of other bodies, and in January 9, 1903, Stoeckhardt was awarded Doctor of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary, Hamline, MN.

Stoeckhardt's various books received tremendous circulation within the synod. We have already mentioned the first of these, his Adventspredigen, published in 1887. He also published sermons for Lent, Passionspredigten, 1890; and sermons on the Gospels Gnade um Gnade; ein Jahrgang Evangelienpredigten, 1914. He also published histories of the Bible: Die Biblische Geschichte des Alten Testaments: kurze Auslegung der alttestamentlichen Geschichtsbucher, 1897; and Die Biblische Geschichte des Neuen Testaments: kurze Auslegung der Evangelien und Apostelgeschichte, 1898. His first commentary, Kommentar ober den Propheten Iesaia, which covered the first twelve chapters of Isaiah was published in 1902. After this followed: Kommentar ober den Brief Pauli an die Romer, 1907; Kommentar ober den Brief Pauli and die Epheser, 1910; Kommentar ober den Ersten Brief Petri, 1912. His notes on various Psalms, Ausgewohlte Psalmen, were published posthumously in 1915.

Karl Georg Stoeckhardt died suddenly of apoplexy on January 9, 1913. An announcement of his death, written by W. H. T. Dau, appeared in the Lutheran Witness on January 16:

It has pleased Almighty God to take from us Dr. George Stoeckhardt, for more than a quarter of a century the beloved teacher of Old and New Testament exegesis at Concordia Theological Seminary, and by his commentaries, and numerous essays known far beyond the confines of the Missouri Synod. We bow in sincere sorrow to this ruling of our Heavenly Father, in whose hands are our destinies, not only of His individual children, but of his entire Church. We thank Him for every blessing that has come to our particular part of His Church, and to the Church at large, through the faithful labors of our departed teacher, whose memory will ever be cherished among us.

The works of this teacher and preacher of God's Word have followed him, as Holy Scripture has promised us (Revelation 14:13). After Stoeckhardt's death, his exegetical lectures on the three letters of St. John, Titus, I Corinthians, Philippians, II Peter, the prophecy of Micah, and the Revelation of St. John were published. Through these and all of Dr. Stoeckhardt's writings God has given a wonderful gift to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. It is the gift of the pure everlasting Gospel, the same that was spoken through Martin Luther in the Reformation, and established in this nation through C. F. W. Walther and the founders of our synod. May this gift be ever as precious to us, as to those who have labored that we might have it!

This is the gift which God in past years and decades has shared with us and which we now possess. And what matters for now and for the future is that we preserve what we have. We have profited in every which way, in all doctrine and in all knowledge, so that we are not lacking in a single gift. Now we must be careful not to lose anything that we have received. Ah, of course, it is the hearts desire and fervent prayer of every Lutheran, who has recognized God's gift, who discerns and understands the time and the signs of the times, who loves his church: "In these last days of sore distress grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness that pure we keep till life is spent, Thy holy Word and Sacrament." And not just till life is spent, O dear Lord God, grant that our church may never lose this its treasure, and that this beauteous light may shine upon us and our children and descendants until the Day of Judgment!

By Daniel H. Woodring


  1. Biegener, E. "Karl Georg Stoeckhardt, D. Theol.," Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4 (January, 1949) p. 154. Biegener notes that Gerhardt Stoeckhardt became a pastor on October 12, 1656. The line continues through his descendants Gottlieb (b. 1664), Johann Gottlieb (b. 1696), Friedrich Gottlieb (b. 1736), and Christian Gottlieb (b. 1773), who was Karl Georg's grandfather. The line is broken by K. Georg's father, Prof. D. Adolph Stoeckhardt, who was an instructor in chemistry.
  2. ibid, p. 155.
  3. A letter to Pastor Otto Willkomm. Quoted in Biegener, op. cit., p. 156.
  4. A Letter to Otto Willkomm, November 29, 1867. Quoted in Biegener, ibid.
  5. Maltz, Myron. An Analysis of the Preaching of Law and Gospel in Dr. Stoeckhardt's Lenten Sermons: A Thesis Presented to Concordia Theological Seminary in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of the Course #495, Research Elective. March, 1967. p.6.
  6. Stoeckhardt, Georg. Die Heilsame Lehre oder Erkl_rung des Kleinen Catechismus Luthers, Besonders zum Gebrauch fnr Confirmanden und zur Repetition fnr Confirmirte von G. Stoeckhardt. Zwickau: Julius Dohner, 1875.
  7. Walther, C. F. W. "Letter to Pastor Theodor Ruhland," dated May 23, 1878. Walther here makes reference to Stoeckhardt's retraction which was written in Die Ev.-Luth. Freikirche, the journal of which Stoeckhardt would become the editor after joining the Saxon Free Church. Stoeckhardt was editor from July & August, 1876 (Vol. 1, No. 1-2), until he left Germany in October, 1878. The extent and nature of these errors (Irrthnmer) is not known to this writer, however, they were serious enough to cause the Delegate Convention of the Missouri-Synod to go against Walther when he urged them to bring Stoeckhardt to America to fill a faculty position at Concordia Seminary, even though Stoeckhardt had retracted.
  8. Fuerbringer, L. Engelder, Th., and Kretzmann, P. E. eds. The Concordia Cyclopedia: A Handbook of Religious Information, with Special Reference to the History, Doctrine, Work, and Usages of the Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 1927. p. 729.
  9. Biegener, op. cit. p. 158.
  10. Stoeckhardt, George. "Come Out From Among Them and be ye Separate." Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book II. op. cit. p. 288.
  11. Goerss, William Elmer. Some of the Hermeneutical Presuppositions and Part of the Exegetical Methodology of Georg Stoeckhardt: A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Department of New Testament Theology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Theology. May 1964. p. 15.
  12. Drews, Richard David. The Relation of Friedrich Brunn to the German Free Churches and the Missouri Synod, 1846-1876; A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Department of Historical Theology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Sacred Theology. May 1962. p. 44.
  13. Goerss, op. cit. pp. 16-17. Cited is: Georg Stoeckhardt, "Vorwort," Die Ev.-Luth. Freikirche, I, No. 1-2 (July and August 1876), 1-5.
  14. Stoeckhardt, George. "Israel Ripe for Judgment." Stoeckhardt, George. "Israel Ripe for Judgment." Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book II. Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press. pp. 307-309.Stoeckhardt, George. "Israel Ripe for Judgment." Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book II. Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press. pp. 307-309.
  15. Stoeckhardt, Georg. "Thesen nber Indifferentismus," 2. Synodal Bericht Sochsen Freikirche, 1878. Quoted and translated in Biegener, op. cit. pp. 159-160.
  16. Biegener, op. cit. p. 160.
  17. Naumann, John G. P. "How Doctor Stoeckhardt Got Out of Going to Jail." Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly. Vol. 49, No. 4. (Winter, 1976), p. 179.
  18. Goerss, op. cit. p. 5. The Walther - Stoeckhardt correspondence is not extant. It is theorized that Stoeckhardt removed his letters himself from Walther's collection when he helped edit Fuerbringer's publication of Walther's letters.
  19. Walther, C. F. W. "Letter to Pastor Theodor Ruhland," dated May 23, 1878. loc. cit.
  20. Walther, C. F. W. "Letter to Pastor J. A. Ottesen," dated August 30, 1878. Included as an appendix to Goerss, op. cit. pp. 135-159. My translation.
  21. Goerss, op. cit. p. 6. Footnote 15.
  22. Dau, W. H. T. "Dr. George Stoeckhardt," Theological Quarterly. Vol. XVII, No. 2. (April, 1913.), p. 67.
  23. Ibid. p. 67. Footnote 2. The reference is to "Does the Form of Concord teach an election in the wider sense?" The German title is "Lehrt die Concordienformal eine, ęGnadenwahl in weitern Sinn'?" Lehre und Wehre, XXVI, No. 5 (May, 1880), 137-148.
  24. Arndt, William F. "The Story of Lehre und Wehre" Concordia Theological Monthly, XXVI, No. 12 (December, 1955), p. 888.
  25. Stoeckhardt, Georg. "Schriftbeweis fnr die Lehre von der Gnadenwahl," Lehre und Wehre, XXVI, No. 6. (June, 1880), 176-187; No. 7 (July, 1880), 197-208; No. 8 (August, 1880), 227-240; No. 9 (September, 1880), 270-281; No. 10 (October, 1880), 303-309.
  26. Stoeckhardt, Georg. "Zum recten Verst_ndni_ von Epheser 1," Lehre und Wehre, XXVII, No. 4 (April, 1881), 120-129.
  27. Stoeckhardt, Georg. "What does St. Paul Rom. 8, 28-30 Teach Concerning Election," St. Louis Theological Monthly, I, No. 7 (November, 1881), 121-127.
  28. J. L. Neve states, "It is an undecided question just at what time Walther adopted the theory of predestination which he later propounded. But it is certain that he arrived at his conclusions, not through the study of the Scriptures, but rather through the study of the old dogmaticians." History of the Lutheran Church in America. Third Revised Edition. Burlington, Iowa: The Lutheran Literary Board. 1934. Walther himself answered that charge in the Foreword to the 1882 Volume of Lehre und Wehre: "When Lutherans appeal to the fathers in support of a dogma, or even in opposition to, Scripture, they are guilty of a glaring apostasy from the supreme principal of true Protestantism, the Reformation, and thus our Evangelical Lutheran Church." Selected Writings of C. F. W. Walther: Editorials from "Lehre und Wehre". Trans. Herbert. J. A. Bouman. Series editor: Aug. R. Suelflow. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 1981.
  29. Walther, C. F. W. "Letter to Pastor V. Koren," dated January 19, 1880. Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri. Quoted in Goerss, op. cit. p. 20.
  30. Sommer, M. S. "Reminiscences of My Student Days at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., from 1889 to 1892," Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, XII, No. 1. (April, 1939), p. 16.
  31. Dau, W. H. T. "Dr. George Stoeckhardt," Theological Quarterly. Vol. XVII, No. 3. (July, 1913), p. 137.
  32. ibid, p. 137.
  33. Buenger, Theodore. "St. Louis Seminary: Reminiscences 1879-1882," Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly, XIII, No. 4 (January, 1941), p. 99-100.
  34. Dau, W. H. T. op. cit. p. 16.
  35. ibid, p. 138.
  36. Buenger, op. cit. p. 100.
  37. Friedrich, Julius A. "Dr. C. F. W. Walther." Ebenezer. Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod during Three Quarters of a Century. W. H. T. Dau, ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 1922. p. 38.
  38. Dau, op. cit. p. 68.
  39. Dau (op. cit. p. 68-69) maintains that is was the first article contributed after the death of Walther. However, this again seems to be an over statement. The article in question was not published until January, 1888. However, there are at least five articles by Stoeckhardt included in Lehre und Wehre between the month of Walther's death, and the publishing of this article. In addition, Stoeckhardt published other articles for Der Lutheraner, and other papers during this time. He also published his sermons for Advent, Adventspredigen: Auslegung der Vornehmsten Weissagungen des Alten Testaments, during the year 1887. During the same year, in November, professor G. Shaller of the Seminary passed away. This reference makes it certain, that Stoeckhardt did not write this article until at least six months after Walther's death, which also raises questions concerning Dau's statement (referred to above).
  40. Stoeckhardt, George. "How Can and Should Each Lutheran Assist his Church in Preserving Pure Doctrine?" Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book I. Ft. Wayne: Concordia Theological Seminary Press. No date on English edition. p. 303.
  41. ibid, p. 305.
  42. ibid, p. 311.
  43. Dau, op. cit. p. 73.
  44. Stoeckhardt, George. "The Pastoral Theology in Titus," Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book II. op. cit. p. 283.
  45. Goerss, op. cit. p. 21.
  46. Stoeckhardt, George. "Professor G. Stoeckhardt Abschiedsrede an die Abiturientenklasse im Juli des Jahrer 1894," Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri. Included as appendix in Goerss, op. cit. p. 140. My translation.
  47. ibid.
  48. ibid.
  49. Stoeckhardt, George. "The Pastoral Theology in Titus," Trans. Erwin W. Koehlinger. Potpourri: Book II. Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press. Undated. pp. 259-260.
  50. Fuerbringer, et al. Concordia Cyclopedia. op. cit. p. 729
  51. Dau, W. H. T. "Prof. G. Stoeckhardt, D. D." The Lutheran Witness. XXXII, No. 2. (January 16, 1913). p. 1.
  52. Stoeckhardt, "How Can and Should each Lutheran Assist his Church in Preserving Pure Doctrine," op. cit. p. 305.

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