History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 25 - 29


because a portion of the congregation did not want me to be reassigned. So it came to pass that with the agreement of the congregation I asked President Wyneken for his advice. I received Wyneken's response 9 weeks later. The harsh winter had severely limited the postal dispatches with St. Louis. I believed President Wyneken had found advice from other quarters concerning New Orleans. However his response so emphasized the young congregation's need and so impressed me with the large field of work there that the writer of this chronicle was willing to take his leave when an unexpected turn of events changed everything. Sometime after Wyneken had sent his response I received a dispatch from New Orleans which rescinded the appointment. The congregation in New Orleans felt it had waited too long for a replacement from St. Louis so it appointed a United Evangelical preacher. Naturally under these circumstances I could not accept my dismissal from the congregation. I was worried that during the unavoidable delay in the matter of appointment many dreadful things might have happened within that congregation. I asked the congregation I still attended to allow me to go to the New Orleans congregation for a brief period. It conceded and I left on February 24th. My return was delayed until the 6th of September of the same year because it was not possible to leave the New Orleans congregation unattended. In the interim Pastor Gruber provided sermons, sick visits, and other assistance to the congregation in Altenburg. Cholera again made an appearance and claimed many offerings. Upon my return I was able to enjoy the renewed trust and love of the entire congregation. All mistrust seemed to have been forgotten and buried. God sent the congregation internal and external peace and harmony with which to build a solid basis in faith. The congregation also grew due to the addition of new immigrants especially during the year 1851. Among these Lutheran families were many northern Austrians, who founded an settlement on the other side of


Applecreek. For a few years I administered to them as a filial congregation of Altenburg. Along with the good crops planted by the Lord through the preaching of His word, there were also the weeds of worldliness, which became more prevalent as prosperity grew. Instead of humble obedience there was much licentiousness and misuse of Christian freedom displayed by the young people. For many Christian life was viewed as a dead lifestyle and they fell into dark confusion as though one could hide the inner corruption of the soul with the outward appearance of righteousness.

History often teaches us that times of peace are like clever maidens sprinkling sleep dust in our eyes. Days of shifting and upheaval follow through which the Almighty probes our hearts, seeks out His people and and reawakens them to sober and true existence. So this occurred here. The history of this dispute has already been made public through many sources, including the report of the "General Synod of Missouri, etc." and The Lutheran, V.12 no.14. Since our brothers were permitted to described the issue from their standpoint and in accordance with their interpretation, whereby we were cast in an poor light, we believe no one will think it unseemly that we tell our side of the story keeping to the truth and reality of the situation from our perspective. The issue concerned whether we had deviated from the bible or the teachings of our church or had intentionally created a schism between ourselves and our Lutheran brothers. In addition to our welcome task of giving our children and descendents a true and honest report concerning the origin of our settlement we also wish to leave behind a record regarding the separation we felt we had to make from our Lutheran church brothers. We include an excerpt from our document titled:


The church schism in Altenburg resulting from the dispute concerning so-called Chiliasm.

The beginning of this dispute arose in spring 1856 when the western district of the Missouri Synod held its sessions here in Altenburg. After two days of discussion concerning questions over the future and universal conversion of Israel and the so-called thousand year reign, the synod passed the following resolutions:

1. We reject the teaching that there will be a universal or at least a partial conversion of the Jews before Judgment Day as it is set down and hoped for in Romans 11: 25, 26, etc. We see this teaching as an unbiblical and false chiliastic doctrine perpetuated by the church.

2. We reject and condemn all forms of Chiliasm according to which is taught that before Judgment Day we may expect a period where the devil no longer has power and influence over the earth, Christ will reappear, all people will be christianized, and all the deceased faithful or a portion of them will rise from the dead and rule with Christ in a new, totally unprecedented manner over all the heathens. We consider interpretations in the following passages of scripture false: Revelations 20, Acts 1, Psalm 67, Daniel 2 and 7. We deem these and works containing similar teaching a perversion of scripture since they produce merely the semblance of faith, particularly articles dealing with the nature of Christ's reign in the world, with the universal rising of the dead, with Judgment Day and with Christ's return as judge.

3. Although the synod declares any form of chiliasm equally false and corrupting, it also understands that a true Christian could fall into confusion. The synod will consider it its duty to apply pure teaching and attempt to help those who have fallen. It will attempt to stop them from teaching and spreading their false teachings and offer them advice, not just


exclude them from their band of brothers and the church community. The synod also considers it its duty to try anything to return its errant brothers to recognition of pure teaching on this point.

Two members of the synod along with a deputy declared they were not in agreement with these resolutions. One of these members was the late Pastor Gruber, who was the oldest minister of the synod at the time. He was a man of unflinching piety with a profound knowledge of scripture. The other member was the writer of this chronicle, who at the time was district president. He would have had to agree not just to the resolution against fanatical opinions but also against clearly stated prophecies made in the scriptures. The future universal conversion of Israel was rejected as unbiblical despite the fact it was sufficiently grounded in passages such as Romans 11, 25 and Hosea 3: 4, 5. Additionally within our Lutheran church a large number of our truest and most esteemed teachers hoped for this conversion. In the appendix to his Piis desideriis blessed Spener listed no fewer than 37 righteous-faith teachers in our church, who ascribed to this future conversion including Luther himself in his church postille (Sermon on St. Stephan's Day on Matthew 23, 39,) Ägid. Hunnium, Nicol Hunnium, Balth. Menzer, Fr. Balduin, Matth. Flacius, Dav. Rungius, Georg Mylius, Balth. Meissner, Joh. Gerhard, Mich. Walther, Matth. Hoe, and others.

The verdict on chiliasm by the synod didn't just reject the concept; it condemned it as a devil's lie and a hellish poison. This was despite the fact that it was a clear prophecy from scripture and a universal belief of the original church — (At the beginning of the third century a presbyter from Rome by the name of Caius was the first to confront the notion of chiliasm. He deemed it necessary to declare the Revelation of St. John the work of a heretic. This only proves how much agreement there was in the original church concerning the teaching in the Revelation.) — So many highly enlightened and true to faith fathers of our church are counted among those who acknowledge this teaching such as Spener, Bengel. Rambach and other


no less distinguished professors and defenders of the faith. There must be protection against the charges of deviation from scripture and heresy for such excellent men as Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf.

Who could blame a minister of the synod when he chose not to agree with them in their verdict of rejection? It wasn't done in the spirit of mutiny or rebellion but at the urging of conscience. How could the synod ask its ministers to subjugate themselves to this verdict when the entire Lutheran church had never been able to resolve these issues? Even now in these perilous times the issues are still being debated. The two pastors mentioned were still seen as brothers by the synod but they were considered errant brothers because of their disagreement with the resolutions. They were placed under binding restriction to remain quiet about their reservations yet they were attacked from all sides because of them. Their situation was precarious at best.

The incident had its influence on the congregation in Altenburg, which by now numbered almost 100 members. Their peace and tranquility was also at an end. Shortly after the resolution had been made parties rose up for and against the verdict. For the majority the matter was completely new since I had only mentioned the prophecy regarding the conversion of Israel a couple of times in my sermons. I had never given any warnings about chiliasm. People began to consider the issue and examine the scriptures. Many people had been shocked to see the manner by which the synod had used skillful interpretation to pervert the simple and clear nature of the prophecy. Others believed in all seriousness that their pastor had applied unbiblical thinking and was caught through error in grave heresy. The time of trust was over yet things remained peaceful on the surface until an article in The Lutheran caused a public airing of the dispute. Pastor Röbbelen challenged the validity of St. John's Revelation as determined by Luther himself. He not only denied


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