History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 55 - 59


"retaining the differences, which in no way violate these teachings.

                           In Christ, Jesus etc.
                                  G.A. Schieferdecker."

After these written negotiations President Wynkenen himself came to Altenburg at the end of February. However since the beloved man was already biased in the matter and had taken an opposite view from my doctrinal position, there was no way to reach accord. Discussions held in private and in the presence of the committee yielded nothing. If President Wyneken had chosen to take an impartial stance and attempted to investigate both sides to see who was guilty of what in the last breech of the peace, then he certainly would have accomplished something positive. He did not seem capable of taking an impartial stance amid an excited congregation. Even before the congregation came together he proposed I take a trip to St. Louis to quietly discuss the doctrinal question with Prof. Walther and certain members of the ministry. I had reservations concerning the fruitfulness of renewed discussion, which Wyneken attempted to dismiss. The word of God alone should decide. Eventually I agreed. The congregation met the following day. Interest in the proceedings drew a large crowd of members from neighboring and distant congregations. President Wyneken began with the statement that he had no advice to give in this situation and he only knew of one way to restore peace in Altenburg. Pastor Schieferdecker would travel to St. Louis with him where the question could be discussed quietly. The congregation agreed so the meeting was adjourned without further discussion of the matter. I departed for St. Louis that same day. The colloquium between Walther, Wyneken and me in St. Louis lasted 4 days. At one point Pastor Schaller and Prof. Biewend also took part. Since I was supposed to determine the course of conversation


I suggested we first go through the exegesis and supplemental texts pertaining to the 20th chapter of St. John's Revelation. From the texts preceeding chapter 20 I extracted the following proof that the 1000 years would put the church in a different situation because it is characterized by the binding of Satan. In descriptions from previous sections of text Satan wreaks great havoc upon the earth. Chapter 12, 12: "Woe to those on the earth and in the sea! The devil comes to us in mighty wrath for he knows he has but little time." Chapter 13, 2: "And the dragon gave him (the beast) his power and his throne and his authority." When Satan is bound and can no longer seduce the people a new and better age must emerge. He will not be able to practice his great powers of deception. Furthermore the millenium brings about a different situation for the church because the holy martyrs of the first church and the true believers under the dominion of the beast join with Christ in dominion while the prophecy of the previous chapter represents the church merely as an entity oppressed and persecuted under the yoke of the beast. Chapter 15 expressly indicates that God's wrath will end with the seven plagues delivered by seven angels. God's wrath is complete with the destruction of Babel and the elimination of the beast, the false prophet and his followers. Thus the millenium is not an age for God's judgment and punishment but rather an age in which the contemptuous and the godless have already been destroyed. There is also the oath of the seventh angel in chapter 10, 7: "But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants, the prophets." The nature of that mystery is shown in Chapter 11, 15: "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.'" The accomplishment of this mystery must precede the third woe for it


is indicated as simultaneous to the seventh trumpet in chapter 11, 14. The woe ends with the destruction of Babel and the beast. Afterwards follows the unhindered reign of Christ as described in chapter 20. With adequate deliberation upon the continuity of events one would not conclude that the entire history and development of the reign of Christ convenes in chapter 19 with a mere recapitulation of the church's suffering and final victory in chapter 20. Since it also states in chapter 20, "The dragon was thrown into the fiery pool where the beast and the false prophet were," the vision which St. John describes in chapter 19 necessarily must precede what is decribed in chapter 20. The causal connection is apparent. First comes the punishment of the seduced and then the seducer, Satan himself. The events in chapter 20 are preceded by and the result of what happens previously. In chapter 20 we have the further and wondrous development of Christ's reign on earth. The final judgment of chapter 20, verse 11, etc. cannot be the same as the judgment on the beast in chapter 19, 20 and the millenium must lie between the 2 judgments with all its mysterious events.

These were approximately the reasons based on exegesis upon which I supported my case. They were not able to refute my reasoning. They were only able to refer to Hengstenberg, which states that it is not necessary to establish a sequence of events in the visions of St. John in the Revelation: there is much interweaving so, for example, in chapter 6, 12 the end of the world and the final judgment are described simultaneously. The saintly visionary did not have a chronological sequence of events in mind but rather wished to describe the battle of the church and its final victory. In chapter 19 the final judgment is discussed and in chapter 20 we return to the church's battle and its eventual triumph in one summarizing overview. And just because the current analogs of faith make no concession for another reign of Christ


before Judgement Day and all clear gospel passages represent the church as an interim regime until its dissolution on Judgment Day or the time of the Lord's second coming, one should abstain from stating that in chapter 20 it is prophecized that the church will have wondrous status during that millenium.

Now certainly this argument could not convince me because it did not contradict the factual and textual bases of the exegesis, however I did concede that I might have been in error on some points and I would consider the matter further. President Wyneken traveled back with me to Altenburg. Before the congregation assembled he asked me to summarize the gist of our discussion. I did this in the following manner: So we might come to an understanding of the points in dispute with God's grace, we first prayed to God for understanding concerning whether both sides considered St. John's Revelation canonical in the fullest sense of the word and thus a source for teaching and faith similar to other divinely given passages from scripture. Both sides were in agreement on this point. From there we examined each others understanding of related passages in chapter 20. We were not able to agree about the sequence of events and their relationship to previous passages within the Revelation or interpretation of certain prophetic passages in the Old Testament in correlation to St. John's Revelation. Both sides were able to agree on the following points and they were accepted as the basis for peace:

1. We accept and believe that the text as it stands in chapter 20 is God's word.

2. We recognize the divine mystery within the text, which no one is able to completely understand or rely upon with assurity.

3. No one may assert with certainty that the text is complete or that it was ever completed.


4. If someone hopes for a better future for the church based on this or other prophetic works, it shall not be a false sentiment which stands in contradiction to the teachings of the martyrdom of Christians, the anticipation of universal judgment upon the world, or the universal resurrection of the dead.

With the agreement of President Wyneken this summary description of our conversations was presented to the congregation. Many wanted to think I had renounced chiliasm. Others thought I had received too many concessions. President Wyneken admonished the congregation to keep the peace and declared that the doctrinal differences had been resolved. If there was a renewed outbreak of dispute it would not be due to doctrinal matters but the result of evil intentions. He wanted no one to oppose peace. With thanks to God and heartfelt joy the peace was especially accepted by those who were tired of zealous and hostile machinations.

Postponed congregational business, such as the election of administrators and others, now took place in an orderly fashion. Congregation members, who had abstained from partaking of the holy eucharist for quite some time out of religious scruples, returned to the table of the Lord. However each group felt that the compromise did not completely satisfy their consciences. The Anathema, of which the synod spoke, was still in force. At the next general meeting of the synod the doctinal question was once again discussed and it was decided to sanction the resolutions made at the district synod. From there the synod put all its efforts into attacking chiliasm in just about every issue of the Lutheran. It stated that any instance of chiliasm, both the major points and the finer aspects, were not compatible with the 17th Article of the Augsburg Confession. Relations remained strained with the congregation. My sermons were criticized, my interactions with people were watched. People went looking for reasons to create trouble. Such tension led me to see that false religious ardour had stolen the people's trust in me.


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