WALTER H. J. LANG
On Saturday, July 10, 2004, Rev. Walter Lang passed on to be with his Lord and savior. He is survived by two sons, Robert and Philip. Robert is a graduate of Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana, who received his doctorate from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. He works as a design engineer for Boeing and lives in Seattle with his wife Carole, son Marty, and daughter Robin. Philip teaches seventh-eighth grades and serves as principal at Grace Lutheran School in Denver. He lives with his wife Linda and daughters Laura and Laisa in Aurora, Colorado.
Walter’s wife preceded him in death. Valeria Ruth Lang was born on April 27, 1911 in Beaumont, Texas. Her father, the Rev. Fred Wessler, served for 36 years as pastor of two congregations in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. After high school, Valeria attended a business college in Minneapolis, and then worked four years in the State Treasurer’s office at Pierre, South Dakota. After that, she worked as a legal secretary in Pierre until August 1940, when she married Walter. Over the years, she served as church secretary in their parishes. From the very first Bible-Science Newsletter in September 1963 and continuing until June 1981, she served as its working editor. She also edited the Five Minutes with the Bible and Science daily devotional. Valeria died in January 1999.
The early days
Walter H. J. Lang was born in Omaha, Nebraska on November 3, 1913. His father, Victor Lang, was a teacher in a Missouri Synod day school. Walter graduated from St. Paul’s College, Concordia, Missouri, and in 1937, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He spent the next two years as assistant pastor at St. Philip’s Lutheran Church in St. Louis, followed by a year teaching at a rural Christian school at Burkburnett, Texas. In 1940, Walter accepted a call to serve St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Denton, Texas. He left there in February of 1942 when he accepted a call from the Mission Board of the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to begin a mission church among the blacks of Houston. Several years later, that church started a Christian day school.
In September of 1950, Walter left Houston to accept a call to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Winslow, Nebraska, a church his grandfather, Rev. John Lang, founded 38 years earlier. In June of 1955, he left to accept a call to Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Denver. The church was located in an area with a transient population. When the Air Force Finance Center was relocated from St. Louis to Denver, to a location several blocks from Mount Calvary, some workers, many of whom were black, settled in the area. Within four years, Mount Calvary was fully integrated and a new building for its Christian day school had been finished. Also, a day care center was established.
A new vision
In late spring of 1959, Walter Lang accepted a call to Grace Lutheran Church in Caldwell, Idaho. Two years later, Walter read John Whitcomb and Henry Morris’ The Genesis Flood. The book planted the seed for what Walter would later call “Creation evangelism.” In September 1963, Walter and Valeria started publishing the Bible-Science Newsletter from Grace Lutheran Church. Beginning on the church’s mimeograph, it soon became a full time job. Walter formed the Bible-Science Association and resigned from Grace Lutheran in 1963 to assume the duties of executive director of the Association. The mailings quickly grew to 5000 copies per month, and book sales were added as requests came in for those books mentioned in the Newsletter.
In the fall of 1964, a Creation Seminar was held in Southern California. Speakers included the founding members of the Creation Research Society, which had split off from the American Scientific Affiliation in June of 1963. Originally founded in 1941 as an organization of scientists who accepted recent creation, by 1960 the group had wandered far from that to blatant promotion of theistic evolution. In 1961, Whitcomb and Morris’ seminal work, The Genesis Flood, became the rallying point for young earth creationists, who accepted a literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, resulting in the CRS. At the 1964 conference, Walter Lang realized that the Bible Science Association’s role should be to popularize the scientific work of CRS, and to promote to the churches the six-day creation and the worldwide flood. This was crucial in preventing the drift into liberalism, which reinterpreted Scripture to eventually reject even the Biblical message of sin and salvation.
Next, the BSA began hosting large annual meetings, with leading creation speakers. A daily devotional, called Five Minutes with the Bible and Science, was added to the Bible-Science Newsletter. On weekends, Walter would drive far and wide across Middle America, giving creationist seminars at churches and civic centers. Walter never refused to go anywhere, even abroad. Because of its growth, and because of the concentration of Lutheran workers, in 1978 the Bible Science Association moved to Minneapolis.
Walter Lang and geocentricity
It was in the devotional, Five Minutes with the Bible and Science, that Walter first addressed the issue of geocentricity. Though a staunch defender of the Bible’s insistence on a recent six-day creation, Walter did not see geocentricity. On the contrary, Walter argued that Job 38:12-14 provided scriptural evidence for a rotating earth:
12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?
14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
Walter attended the 1977 Conference on Absolutes, held in Cleveland. There he discovered that top secular scientists, such as Huseyin Yilmaz, were quite able to accept geocentricity, and that its primary detractors were religionists and theistic evolutionists.
Over the years, both the Hansons and the Bouws hosted Walter on multiple occasions. In 1983, the board of directors of the Bible-Science Association went against Walter’s wishes and voted that the annual conferences were at an end. From that point on, it was decreed; conferences would only be scheduled for every second year. Walter had heard that the Northcoast Bible-Science Association of Cleveland wanted to host the next BSA conference and recruited them to host a conference in 1984, at the Brookside Baptist Church. In 1985, the NCBSA also hosted the official Bible-Science Association conference. Today, only the quadrennial Pittsburgh Conference survives.
Wherever Walter would travel, he preferred to stay in people’s homes. My children fondly remember his stay with us in 1991; Walter banging his suitcases against the wall as he walked to the spare bedroom upstairs. (No damage done.) Whatever town he visited, Walter would call contacts on his BSA mailing list, looking for speaking targets of opportunity. It was our pleasure to host Walter on at least three occasions during the 1980s and early 1990s. I was also a guest at the Langs’ home in Minneapolis.
By the mid-eighties, Walter repudiated his interpretation of Job 38:12-14 and embraced the geocentric universe as scriptural. Because of how he saw his role as promoter of creationism, he never made an issue of it. Nevertheless, he carried copies of Geocentricity on his book table. Walter was also present for the 1991 geocentricity conference held in the author’s back yard, where the cover photo was taken.
The final years
Eventually the Bible Science Association’s change of leadership was complete when it changed its name to Creation Moments. Now out of the loop, pastor and Mrs. Lang founded the Genesis Institute and started a new publication, The Ark Today. Since 1963, Walter made it a rule to exchange The Bible-Science Newsletter and The Ark Today with the periodicals of other organizations. This included The Bulletin of the Tychonian Society and, later, The Biblical Astronomer. Walter was also convinced that a large board of directors was advantageous for his organizations. Jim Hanson and I both served on the BSA board. But Walter’s occasional inclusion and reports of geocentric news galled other board members and unbeknownst to Walter, they stopped the exchange.
Walter continued supporting creationist causes, particularly those of the Twin Cities area, and in 1992 he helped organize the last BSA national conference on creationism in St. Paul Minnesota. His work with BSA done, in 1997 he and Valeria moved to Seattle to be closer to their children. There Walter served on the board of Creation Association of Puget Sound. There, too, Valeria died in 1999.
Walter’s health had been declining for the past couple of years. He was having problems with his short-term memory, yet he remained ever gracious, as was his nature. Over the past few months, his physical strength began to fail as well. At the last, he contracted pneumonia and passed away on July 10, 2004.
Though Walter had not been on the road for years, he will still be sorely missed. His goal to unite the various creationist groups dies with him. Although Walter would not admit it, God called Walter to address the Laodicean church’s failure to recognize its Creator (Rev. 3:14). Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15). Walter was ninety years old at his death.
Several of Rev. Lang’s works are available free of charge, on the Internet at: http://www.creationism.org/lang/.
 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” The “faithful and true witness” addresses the wide-spread rejection of the revealed, preserved scriptures, while “the beginning of the creation of God” addresses the rejection of the Genesis creation account.