The Biography of Wilhelm Loehe: Insights into His Life and Work

By Geiger, Erika | Currents in Theology and Mission, April 2006 | Go to article overview

The Biography of Wilhelm Loehe: Insights into His Life and Work


Geiger, Erika, Currents in Theology and Mission


Who was Wilhelm Loehe? Today in Germany his name is hardly known outside of theological circles. Many people, however, are familiar with Neuendettelsau, the place of his work, where the "Missions work" and "Diakonie" are located, some of the largest social services in Germany. Both of these institutions trace their founding back to Wilhelm Loehe. His work is thereby much more well known than his name. Therefore it is very welcome that now in Iowa an International Loehe Society should be founded that allows the remembrance of this significant man to be revived. Loehe not only achieved great things in the areas of mission and diaconal work but also left behind a comprehensive theological corpus of writings and almost has become a kind of "church father" for the Bavarian Landeskirche.

For my work on the biography of Wilhelm Loehe the most important sources were his letters and diary in which one encounters a fascinating and impressive personality but also a person with a changing and difficult destiny.

He was born on February 8, 1808, in Furth. His father, Johann Loehe, was a businessman, and his mother, Maria Barbara, was the daughter of Mayor Walthelm of Furth. Wilhelm and his six siblings (five sisters and one brother) thus stemmed from a notable middle-class family. When he turned eight years old his father died, and his mother took over the business. She was a very pious woman whose great wish was that her gifted son would study theology, although that meant for her great financial sacrifices. Loehe was grateful to her for this his whole life long. He attended the Latin school in Furth and later the Melanchthon School in Nuremberg.

After his graduation he began his theological study at Erlangen in 1826. Here two professors were especially important for the student: Reformed pastor Christian Krafft and natural scientist Karl von Raumer. Both belonged to the so-called "revival movement," a counterpoint to rationalism, which after the age of the Enlightment had spread through the Bavarian Landeskirche. The Bible had come to be read according to the standards of human reason, so that all that remained of Christianity was a valued moral teaching.

Loehe already as a child had endured religious instruction according to this reductionism. Now through the revival movement he came to know people who spoke of religious experience and a new life in Christ and who witnessed to their Christianity in deed. The diaconal and missional activities of both professors--the founding of a safe house for children and a mission society--deeply impressed the young Loehe. It was typical for him that he also wanted to become active: he founded a mission circle among family and acquaintances in Furth for the support of the Basel Mission and a Literature Society for Christian writings and tracts.

Inwardly, as a theological student he struggled with severe doubts about the faith. Again and again he questioned whether he was worthy to proclaim the gospel as a preacher. Only as he, like Martin Luther, gained the experience "that one must be and remain a sinner and become blessed by grace" (1) did he discover peace with God. Luther's writings became his most important readings during this period.

After a semester in Berlin, Loehe completed his studies in Erlangen and in 1830 performed very well on his exams, which earned from church authorities the comment "Capable of high ecclesial offices." However, his trial sermon was evaluated as too "mystical" by the examiner, although his exposition was based entirely upon the Lutheran doctrine of justification. Because of the rationalistic school to which the examiner belonged, this fell completely into the background. Such an evaluation of his sermon meant for Loehe that from then on he would be judged as a "mystic and pietist," which was not advantageous for his ecclesial career.

Loehe was ordained to the pastoral office on July 25, 1831, in the St. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Biography of Wilhelm Loehe: Insights into His Life and Work
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.