Krauth Conservative Reformation

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This is a book I have wanted to read for years.  I DL'ed a pdf version way back from I even investigated a bit about making a pbb version of it back in Libronix 3.0 days.  While I acknowledge some influence from the above, the main source for this edition is

Charles Porterfield Krauth was probably the most important English speaking figure in the 19th century Confessional renewal.  He was trained in the "American Lutheranism" of SS Schmucker, but was also influenced by his father Charles Philip Krauth to read deeper. And between his studies of 16th and 17th Century Lutherans as well as exposure to the renewal coming out of Germany, his mind was changed.  He became the founding leader of the General Council - a group that tried to assert a truly Lutheran identity IN ENGLISH here in the new world.

Between teaching at a few schools and organizational issues, he was quite busy.  Most of his published work was in Journals.  This book is a collection and reworking of many articles he had published earlier.  The booklet on Baptism I supplied earlier ( is basically the same as Chapter 11 of this book.

The seams do show in this work.  Sometimes the Greek is transliterated.  Sometimes it is given without accents.  And Sometimes it is given with accents.  How he uses italics varies from chapter to chapter. Shedd does not deserve the only blame for misunderstanding Lutheran History.  And yet this does fit together as a book in itself.  It is a classic statement from a major player in Lutheranism in the 19th Century.

I found the opening rather dated.  It seemed like a bit of a Romantic pietist biography of Luther to me.  Imagine that - he was influenced by 19th century Romanticism...  His exegesis is a bit dated - while he did seem to be up to date when published in 1871, there have been significant textual discoveries since then that are, of course, ignored.  He goes into more detail than I particularly care about Luther's translation.

But it picks up steam when he starts talking about our confessions and the doctrines in them.  As he says,

The Bible can no more be any man’s Creed, than the stars can be any man’s astronomy. The stars furnish the rule of the astronomer’s faith: the Principia of Newton may be the Confession of his faith. If a man were examined as a candidate for the chair of astronomy in a university, and were asked, “What is your astronomical system?” and were to answer, “I accept the teaching of the stars,” the reply would be, “You may think you do — so does the man who is sure that the stars move round the world, and that they are not orbs, but ‘gimlet-holes to let the glory through.’ We wish to know what you hold the teachings of the stars to be? Do you receive, as in harmony with them, the results reached by Copernicus, by Galileo, by Kepler, by Newton, La Place, and Herschel, or do you think the world one great flat, and the sun and moon mere pendants to it?” “Gentlemen,” replies the independent investigator, “the theories of those astronomers are human systems — man-made theories. I go out every night on the hills, and look at the stars, as God made them, through a hole in my blanket, with my own good eyes, not with a man-made telescope, or fettered by a man-made theory; and I believe in the stars and in what they teach me: but if I were to say, or write what they teach, that would be a human creed — and I am opposed to all creeds.” “Very well,” reply the examiners, “we wish you joy in the possession of a good pair of eyes, and feel it unnecessary to go any further. If you are unwilling to confess your faith, we will not tax your conscience with the inconsistency of teaching that faith, nor tax our own with the hazard of authorizing you to set forth in the name of the stars your own ignorant assumptions about them.”

Krauth, C. P. (1872). The Conservative Reformation and its Theology (166–167). J.B. Lippincott & Co.

He clears up many misunderstandings about Lutheranism, many of which are still out there.  Many still accuse us of consubstantiation, for example.  Because this IS a classic text, it has been reprinted from time to time, most recently by Concordia Publishing House.  See for more information about the recent reprint.  If you "Look Inside" at Concordia's web page, you will find a much more detailed historical introduction from Dr. Rast.  His overview of the context of this book is quite good, even if I would want to pick a minor nit with him, namely that while Krauth is arguing against figures like Finney, I doubt is is really accurate to describe Finney as "Arminian", since Arminians like Arminius and the Wesleys have a higher view of Grace than Finney.  Krauth himself acknowledges that Arminius himself was quite influenced by Lutherans (pg 127) even while clearly saying that we Lutherans are not Arminians.  That said, there is a reason Rast is a leader at a Lutheran Seminary, while I am not.  His is a quite useful overview, and again, I recommend it highly.

I did have to "interpret" it more in making a docx than other works.  Krauth had his section headings in the margins for paragraphs.  I have converted them to more traditional headings.  I have tried to provide links to documents I have in my library as well as some others where the datatype seemed obvious.  I would welcome corrections and additions to this, though.

As always, I release these out to you with the hope that they will be useful to spreading the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Ken McGuire


PS - I think I will work on a few shorter things next...

The Gospel is not ... a "new law," on the contrary, ... a "new life." - William Julius Mann

Posts 28
Gerald Kapanka | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 24 2012 11:32 AM

Thank you so much for making your work available to us. God bless you.

Posts 3438
BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 24 2012 11:50 AM

Thank you!

The Grace & Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

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Posts 176
Rob | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 31 2012 9:53 AM

Great work - Thanks

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Schamma | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 31 2012 10:51 AM

Thank you! Smile

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