History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 45 - 49

"since he disagrees with those who reject the worldly reign as error.

"3. We cannot demand that our Pastor go against his conscience and bind himself to a specific human interpretation of prophetic passages in scripture and encroach upon his freedom to believe in tenets established by other acknowledged teachers of our church.

"4. We appreciate that our Pastor gave his promise not to preach about these teachings from the pulpit and not to spread his personal opinions. This promise would not have been difficult since he had not preached anything about this teaching with the exception of one mention in a mission sermon, which the 2 ministers from St. Louis knew about because it was submitted to them ahead of time. We do not deem it advisable to publically preach about this topic because no final decisions have been reached in our church and no conclusive regimen of doctrine has been established. Prophetic passages remain obscure until the events they portend occur. Thus we consider it necessary to declare the opinions of our brothers unfounded because our Pastor is not able to deliver any definitive instruction on this dubious point of conflict. We are convinced this topic is not part of the fundamentals of faith or sanctity. We turn to Luther's words, "Each teaching has its set of circumstances, its time and its place," (preface to the Epistle in Romans.) The profundity of his understanding is not needed by the ordinary Christian and we believe it is best to adhere to God's word in simpler passages and not to brood over the hows and the whens. Our teacher also alludes to these divine words. More advanced Christians might well acquaint themselves with the Weimar, Stark and Hirschberger texts as well as other orthodox bible works available in our church which present 4 different explanations of the points in question. By doing so they would see how enlightened and knowledgable Christians examine the points and how well their own opinions correlate with other prophecies and events in church history.

"After this study they may attempt to engage the pastor in proper Christian dialog rather than succumbing to quarrels and accusations of the oppression of conscience. We must testify here that our Pastor has consistently given us clear and pure advice derived from God's word concerning our sanctity, our laws and the gospel, repentance and righteous faith.

"5. We take serious issue with people slandering our Pastor by saying that he did not keep his promise. Indeed we must aver that he has carefully avoided referring to any texts which even remotely support his convictions.

"6. We cannot permit others to slander our Pastor by stating that he oppressed their consciences by assailing them because they did not hold the same opinions as he; he often declared that his opinion was not an article of faith in which one must believe in order to achieve sanctity. He merely wanted the intellectual freedom to have his own opinion while leaving others to exercise their own freedom of thought. People can see this by examining the public records of the congregation.

"7. How could we blame our Pastor for the continuing dispute within our congregation? He often prayed for the end of the dispute and the bestowing of love so that the sins committed on both sides would be forgiven. However he was continually dragged back into the fray by others and forced to defend himself. We protest against the picture painted by our brothers which gives the appearance that the Pastor took every opportunity presented to him to force his opinion on the congregation.

"8. We firmly reject the allegation that our pastor fostered the formation of party factions. He did everything he could within the limits of his own religious freedom to serve the cause of peace by offering not to preach or privately voice his own opinions and he kept his promise.

"9. The cause of the renewed dispute rested with certain members of our congregation,

"who declared that the peace negotiated by the two delegates from St. Louis was false. They said the resolution was religious oppression. They demanded that special meetings be placed in the same class as general congregational assemblies and that the recorded proceedings of these meetings be read before any new business. This so irritated other congregational members, who thought peace had been achieved and who thanked God for it, that there were new angry outbursts. In further negotiations our groups permitted declarations to be taken down in the official record. They did not want renewed disputes. Rather they wanted to abide by the peace resolution. We must definitively deny the allegation that we were the cause of the dispute.

"10. The relationship between us and our Pastor is not one where we would seek outside advice concerning him although we would and could not hinder our brothers from doing so. Ours is a relationship of heartfelt trust. We have no complaints that he controlled our consciences. Indeed a portion of our group is not of the same opinion as he concerning prophetic matters. Instead we must complain that those, who charge our Pastor with oppressing their consciences, were the ones who pestered, quarreled and handled things in a totally unchristian manner.

"11. We would consider it an irresponsible act to separate ourselves from our spiritual caregiver just because we do not agree with his opinions concerning the final days. We deem that he has properly preached God's word in his sermons and we have no reason to complain about his conduct in ministerial office or private life.

"12. We note for the record that as we are duty-bound by the ordinances of our congregation we unconditionally acknowledge the authority of the holy scriptures as they are laid down in our German bible. We acknowledge our allegiance to the symbolic books of our church, in particular to the unchanged Augsburg Confession and its 17th Article. However we also acknowledge that we must refrain from giving the 17th Article broader meaning

than is intended by its simple wording.

                        The elected committee,
                           J.G. Palisch,
                           J.O. Nitzschke,
                           C.G. Zeibig,
                           A. Petzoldt.
Altenburg, Perry County Missouri, February 9, 1857."

The letter of protest, which contained the signatures of 39 members of the congregation, was read before the congregation and then sent to President Wyneken along with the following private letter:

"To His Eminence, etc.

"The letter in protest, which I send to you in the name of the members of this congregation for your examination and consideration, came about as the result of a letter, which one of our committee members was supposed to write in response to your fine letter of December 6th last year. The letter was then supposed to be read to the congregation for its approval. The committee did not unanimously approve this and only a portion came together to compose the letter. Since this letter contained nothing but charges against our honorable, pious, true and orthodox pastor, with which we could not agree in good conscience, we found it necessary to lodge our protest against it. Therefore each letter can no longer be submitted in the name of the congregation, rather only in the names of individual members as signed in their own hands. It is our firm conviction that, with God's help, the confusion and strife within our congregation will only cease once our brothers are willing to cooperate with us in reestablishing the peace accord negotiated with true charity and great wisdom by the two ministers from St. Louis. May you be the tool in God's hand to make them willing and to convince them that there is still the possibility for their return to the path of peace on which we have travelled together for so many years,

"even though we have never been of the same mind concerning chiliasm. Our Altenburg congregation currently resembles the Galatian congregations, about which the apostle stated: 'You bite and tear at each other but see to it that you do not totally consume each other.' May God in His grace save us from such a fate for the love of Christ! These people, whose complaining and accusations have turned the hair of our honorable Pastor prematurely gray, are the cause of this disruption. Perhaps the passage in Romans 16, 17 should be applied to them. God knows and our consciences tell us that we and the Pastor have sought and continue to seek peace.

"To Your Eminence, etc.
                           Julius Nitzschke."

At the same time I sent my own letter to the President, Mr. P. Wyneken in answer to his advisory letter. In this advisory letter he blasted me with the most serious accusations: I had attempted to commit religious tyranny by insisting upon the canonical nature of St. John's Revelation; I had not only aroused suspicion in true ministerial brothers as though they were foolish scorners of God's word but had also raised doubts about our father in faith, Luther, and the Reformation. I was responsible for the outbreak of the chiliastic dispute, after which 2 pastors, Lehmann and Hügel, were forced to abandon their congregations because they did not want to acknowledge their own chiliastic errors. Well are you certain, it states in the advisory letter, are you so divinely certain, beloved brother, of your facts that you are willing to come before your Lord and Savior and take responsibility for the sad consequences of this situation? Is He not the Lord and Savior who shed his blood for us poor sinners and whose burning love protects us from the burning scorn which He would pour down upon those who would destroy His suffering souls instead of gathering them together? Haven't His words of warning been spoken often enough and with sufficient threat?

Go to pages 50 - 54

Go to the index