March 17, 1828, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
January 26, 1915, at home in Columbus, Ohio.
Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.
Of German parentage, Matthias was the fourth of seven children of Matthias and Christina Reaver Loy. After a bleak, poverty pinched boyhood, he was apprenticed in 1847 to the printing firm of Baab and Hummel at Harrisburg, was treated well by his masters, read several of the English classics, learned the rudiments of Latin and Greek at the Harrisburg Academy, was confirmed by Charles W. Schaeffer, and began to think of a ministerial career.
In 1847, Loy went west for his health, and at Circleville, Ohio, was persuaded by Reverend J. Roof to become a beneficiary student in the seminary (later part of Capital University) of the Joint Synod of Ohio, at Columbus, where he had Christian Spielmann and Wilhelm Lehmann as his teachers. He was strongly influenced by the writings of C. F. W. Walther and by several friends among the clergy of the Missouri Synod. His only pastorate was at Delaware, Ohio (1849–65).
On December 25, 1853, he married Mary Willey of Delaware, who, with five of their seven children, survived him. Frail of body and often ill, Loy had a strong mind and a great capacity for work. As president of the Joint Synod (1860–78 and 1880–94), editor of the Lutheran Standard (1864–91), professor of theology at Capital University (1865–1902), and president of the university (1881–90), he dominated the Synod, which grew during his lifetime into an organization of national scope. He was a zealous student of the Lutheran confessions but had little knowledge of Biblical criticism or appreciation of its implications. He was a truculent controversialist, never forgetting that the Church Visible is also the Church Militant, and never giving his opponents time to forget it. In 1867 he refused to let the Joint Synod become a member of the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, and framed the questions about the
four points: chiliasm, altar fellowship, pulpit fellowship, and secret societies—that afflicted so sorely the spokesman of the General Council.
In 1871, Loy carried the Joint Synod into the Synodical Conference. Ten years later, he rejected Walther’s doctrine of predestination, founded and edited the Columbus Theological Magazine (1881–88) to combat it, and of course withdrew the Joint Synod from the Synodical Conference. He was the author of twenty published hymns; his other works include:
In 1902, angina pectoris forced Loy to retire, but for eight years more he continued to write and take pleasure in his garden, before
softening of the brain set in.