You're here: » Articles Home » F.W. Krummacher » An Autobiography

An Autobiography

      Frederick Wilhelm Krummacher was born in Prussia in 1796. He held a pastorate in Germany but firmly held the old Lutheranism, renouncing rationalism. He came to New York in 1843, but turned down offers to return to Germany in 1847 and settled in Berlin. He died in Prussia on December 10, 1868. He was a prolific writer and is best known for his book, Elijah the Tishbite.

      In 1813, Krummacher found it difficult to apply himself to his studies, when the battle for freedom had entered the very streets of their city. Finally, his father permitted him to join a new company that formed in the town, even though Krummacher was barely 16 years old. They assembled and went to an inn to await orders. Finally the word came from the Serene Highness that the boys were to return to their studies, and at a later time, they would be called to duty, if needed. Studies were very difficult, especially as they had to study the great battles of history, and they could not join their countrymen who were valiantly fighting for freedom. Finally Krummacher was promoted to Sergeant of a rifle/lance company, and it seemed they might join the efforts. Instead they were made singers of the gained victories at Gross-Beeren, Katzbach, and Leipzig.

      Krummacher and his fellows decided to apply themselves and see the glory of mastering the sciences in school, but it was not easy. His parents had a steady flow of soldiers that quartered in their home. One became a famous surgeon, who was very intelligent and an enjoyable conversationalist. They also had fellows that became famous persons: a painter, a poet, an archaeologist, theologians, etc.

      During this time the churches were filled and there was much prayer and patriotism evidenced. The German people had come back to life again.

      Krummacher passed high school cum laude, and when to the University of Halle. Krummacher and his friends made their way to the school feeling as though they stood head and shoulders above everyone else as they arrived in 1815. The school had 600 other students, many of whom wore badges of honor for their service in the war of liberation.

      Krummacher was faced with the awful instruction of rationalism as taught by Niemeyer in veiled form and Wegscheider in open outspoken form. The only source of truth was Reason, and each statement in the Holy Scriptures had to be evaluated to determine if it was to be accepted or rejected. The result is that the Lord Jesus was stripped of all supernatural majesty, and reduced to a simple teacher who was entangled in the prejudices of the time. He never performed any miracles, and did not rise from the dead. Their venerated teacher Wegscheider interpreted the language of the Scriptures according to his own ideas, even though the words clearly taught the very opposite.

      Another famed rationalist teacher that Krummacher had was the great Hebrew scholar Gesenius. Gesenius was just a young man at the time, but his unbelief was very pointed and evident.   His rationalism was different than the respected and earnest Wegscheider. Gesenius was little, lively and petulant. He would make long Hebrew assignments mentioning with a scornful smile some doctrine or teaching. In Church history, the students were made to feel as if they were being conducted through a tour of an insane asylum, with his scornful wit causing the class to convulse in laughter.

      The Professor of Practical Theology was Marx. He always wore embroidered white gloves in the pulpit, and intoned the prayers in a manner adopted from the opera. He even brought in a celebrated stage player to entertain the students with her pantomimes, in order to help his students learn to become public speakers!

      Thus, Krummacher bemoaned the thousands of theologians that went out from the school having a disdain and unbelief in the Word of God. There was one old preacher at the school whose lectures were always well attended, who could easily have squashed the rationalism, had he not been ill and weak in body, and afraid to speak out against his fellow teachers. He was held in high reverence as an old man of the bygone days of faith. Instead of boldly confronting the students, he prayed quietly each Easter for just one student to convert to the belief in the inspiration of God's Holy word, and his prayers were answered, causing him great joy.

      In 1817, Krummacher went to the University of Jena. Before leaving he preached his first sermon in a village church, and they declared his work "well done." His main reason for leaving Halle was to get away from the sometimes violent behavior of the students and the general depravity of the student body. He was happy to see the students disciplined in dress and action, going about singing or carrying on in cheerful conversation. He was warmly welcomed by a student, when he asked for directions, and given help in carrying his things and in personally conducting him to the dormitory. Krummacher was soon elected to a position of responsibility there.

      The School Hall was a glorious sight, with the decorated officers, and an enthusiastic student body of 800 young men who raised their loud clear voices in the school song. The professors scorned the modern rationalism, but were not wholly accepting of the accounts of Scripture, reserving the right to not accept whatever they chose not to believe.

      Krummacher passed his University exams cum laude and applied to be a candidate preacher. He preached on the assigned passage of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from Matthew 15:32-38. Krummacher preached on how it served as a symbol in which the goodness of God is mirrored toward all the needy and suffering children of men. His father, who presided over the Anhalt governing body, interrupted his discourse, demanding to know if he regarded the Gospel as historically true or as an allegory? The young Krummacher was suddenly stunned at the question, never having considered it in such a light. It took some time for him to gather his composure and answer that he did not deny the truth of the miracles, but that he viewed them as more importantly expressing the moral truths they represented. However, upon verbalizing the statement he realized his whole Christian life was some undefined sentiment, rather than firm conviction. He passed the theological examination with honor, although he was humiliated by it.

      Almost immediately his father was asked if the young Krummacher would come fill a vacated post of assistant preacher of a German Reformed congregation in Frankfurt-on-the-Maine. He passed his trial discourse and was unanimously chosen by the congregation. He returned home again, this time to apply for a second examination to be a preacher, which he passed, returning to the old town of Frankfurt to preach at the afternoon sermon, and to fill in when either of the two pastors were not able to do the morning services.

      From: Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher, An Autobiography. (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1869), pp. 11-15.

Back to F.W. Krummacher index.


Like This Page?

© 1999-2019, All rights reserved.