History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 50 - 54


"Do you think that all the clear passages in holy scripture and our church's articles of faith, which contradict and upturn the teaching of the 1000-year reign, are worthless? Do you have one single passage, which by its wording will produce the shadow of a proof for your teaching? The articles of faith certainly use plain language. Are you so equipped and fortified by a few words of the Lord that on Judgment Day you will be able to stand before Christ with your army only to be judged a false teacher and cast out along with your troops? Have you made the effort to examine the counterproofs of our theologians and measure their strengths before ripping the simple catechismic faith out of the hearts of our congregations and creating these tragic schisms?" At the close of this letter, which was always well intended and a beautiful testimony to the true love that the revered general president had for a brother whom he believed was in danger of soul-destroying heresy, he showed he was willing to help. While not stating that I would be left without support, he asked me whether I would keep quiet from then on concerning chiliasm not just with my opponents but with those who agreed with me. If I was not willing he would have to take measures to free the congregation from the perilous course and the unbearable burden, which threatened to destroy it. In my response to this letter I stated that I would stand by my promise not to speak publically or privately about this doctrine. I said that my previous behavior had been a defensive measure adopted because people had continually assailed my beliefs as the result of intolerant zeal brought on by the harsh rejection and damning verdict of the synod. This had ripped the hearts out of the brethren and planted the seeds of doubt against the minister. Only when this anathema had been cast out could peace be reestablished. I wrote back to the President,


"I honor the sincerity and love you showed me in your valued letter containing advice and religious reprimand. I see it is your intention to help a brother in peril of losing his soul. I also see how from your standpoint you honestly wish to save a congregation from the harmful consequences of my ministry. Upon thorough examination of my conscience before God and in accordance with his word I must acknowledge that I am not guilty of the things for which you accuse me. I must decidedly reject the following:

"1. That I had committed religious tyranny within the synod by presenting my evidence in proof of the canonical nature of St. John's Revelation. In the preface to volume 4 of The Lutheran and in other places the synod had long ago acknowledged its canonicity. And so far as I know the major theological and ascetic literature of the Lutheran church, the so-called antilegomena and in particular St. John's Revelation have been acknowledged true, divinely inspired books and thus have passed into the church's profession of faith. Let us also count our old theologians in their arduous attempts to vindicate the divine origin of the libri canonici secundi ordini [canonical books of the second order], Johann Gerhard for example. Hollaz also stated that because none of the current theologians any longer has doubts about their canonicity, the difference between proto and deuterokanonikous, canonical works of the first and second class, is superfluous. For this reason your reprimand surprises me, revered brother. Not once have I passed verdict on anyone let alone committed heresy. As you say, I cannot hide anything from you.

"2. I also know that I am free of guilt for casting suspicion upon true ministerial brothers by calling them foolish scorners of God's word. Instead it is just the opposite. In public and private I have often declared that one may express doubt concerning the canonicity of a biblical book yet


"not scorn God's word and commit heresy. There are also faithful and god-fearing theologicans of our church who have spoken out against St. John's Revelation. Furthermore, revered brother, if you will contrast my opinion concerning the divine origin of St. John's Revelation with that of the entire old church and the Reformation, unless my eyes deceive me in Gerhard there is an entire list of noteworthy advocates from the old church including Justin, Irenäus, Theophilus, Melito of Sardes, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Chrysostomus, Damascenus and Hieronymus. The last person called for the canonicity of the Revelation based on the testimony of all the latin fathers. Our Chyträus, coauthor of the Formula of Concord writes: 'The oldest teachers coming right after the time of the apostles have unanimously ascribed to St. John's Revelation.'

"3. I must earnestly reject the reprimand that I have taken issue with our true father, Luther, or the fathers of the Reformation, or our synod. On what do you base this charge? Because I do not agree with the verdict concerning blessed Luther's opinion of St. John's Revelation as it was interpreted in The Lutheran, no. 18 of the previous year? At one of our meetings the beloved Pastor Schaller himself said that the blessed man made a mistake in this case. I do not think a man makes himself guilty of the sin of doubt if, without pride or arrogance and without proper court verdict, but with true conviction he speaks of errors, which also have been cited by the truest and greatest teachers. The Lutheran has also done this in regard to the words of Arnd and Spener. One should not be so arrogant and he should not forget that in comparison to these people he is a poor light indeed. However if a man accepts unproven doctrine from human teachers, no matter how great and learned they are, then I don't know how anyone can avoid the charge of superstition. The same holds true for the synod.


"It may sound presumptuous of me when I say the synod has erred in its Anathema and has injured the faith of our beloved brothers, but I also know that I do not wish to make a bad name for myself with the higher eschelon or those who are better than me and have rendered greater service to the church than me. I know better than to minimize the work the Lord has performed throughout our synod.

"4. Do you imagine that my apocalyptic opinion is so certain that on Judgment Day I will stand before Christ, face the entire host of the righteous only to judge and condemn them as false teachers? Now ask again whether I am so divinely certain I would dare to come before the judgment bench to face the entire church. Indeed, it would be a dreadful venture first, to have the testimony of the entire church against me and second, to presume to condemn it. Only I don't have the testimony of all righteous-faith teachers against me let alone the testimony of the entire church. There are the teachings of Barnabas, Justinus, Irenäus, Tertullian, Hyppolyptus, Methodius, and Lactantius which you cannot deny. Even the teachings of Hieronymous, which were opposed to this doctrine, show that there was a broad range of opinion within the old church. He said, "Even though we are not of the same opinion we certainly cannot condemn them because many church teachers and martyrs have established that each may have his own opinion and God's court of judgment remains in place for all." (Comment. Ierem. Tom. 4, p.598)

"Do you want to exclude the entire company of true and most excellent teachers since Spener, such as J.J. Rambach, P. Anton, J.G. Walch, Bengel, Crusius, etc.? All these men believed in the future conversion of Israel and the 1000-year reign. However if things were otherwise I would still never presume to condemn anyone whose opinion concerning prophetic scripture was different from mine.


"When it comes to the prophetic passages in scripture there has always been a greater freedom of interpretation than the didactic passages. Indeed there must be cohesive theory in faith and it is proper to reject any interpretation which contradicts the accepted tenets of faith. However no one has yet set down a groundwork which disproves Spener or Bengel's interpretations of the 1000-year reign."

At the end of my letter I declared that although I must reject the charges made against me, I did not mean to definitively state that my behavior was completely free of sinful errors and weakness. I gave the following response to President Wyneken's demand for unconditional silence: "I hereby state that I intend to remain by my promise of not speaking publically or privately about chiliasm, just as I have kept it thus far. However if you thought that the vow of silence meant that I would not defend myself against people who constantly assailed me or communicate with people who asked me for instruction on this teaching or not speak with those, who shared my opinion, then I cannot comply. I see that as a limitation of my inalienable rights, which I have not only as a private Christian but as a Lutheran Christian and servant of the Lutheran Church. If this response is not satisfactory, then do what you must as you are answerable to God and your conscience. For my part I can do nothing differently. If I have to deny my convictions derived from God's word and reject the freedom of conscience so dearly imparted to me by Him, then may the merciful God give me His protection. May God in His grace also guide you in your decision concerning this letter so peace may remain between brothers and we may uphold together the holiest doctrines of our faith, which bind us together, while


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