History of the First German-Lutheran Settlement in Altenburg, Perry County Missouri: pages 35 - 39


and the matter could be discussion rationally. At the close of the meeting it was implied that my departure from the meeting was wrong. The reprimand was based on these words from scripture, "Let us not abandon our meetings, etc." from Hebrews 10, 25. Naturally I rejected this use of words from scripture as inadmissible. Then I had to hear about it as a distinguished administrator and member of the congregation said to me, "Up until now I've remained quiet because I felt bad that people had set aside the respect they should show towards you, but now I see that you will not accept reprimand and that you twist God's word. I'm afraid that you do this with other words from God too." At the next meeting I was assailed anew so once again I left. People called me a hired hand, who fled from his herd. They demanded I use words from scripture to prove that my departure was justified. When I used the words of the Lord, "My house is a house of prayer," (for this turbulent meeting was being held in God's house,) they said I had not instructed them with God's word but rather had mercilessly beaten and wounded their consciences. It would serve nothing except to reopen old wounds and cause resentment if all the tragic events of the meetings were recounted here. The Lord would allow each person to see his grievous sins so each would recognize his guilt and then He could bestow His healing grace. It's sad to see how deeply people are torn apart by false and seductive thoughts of injustice, bitterness and hatred against their pastor. During this time I took every opportunity to preach about charity and meekness in my sermons. This was interpreted as hypocrisy. They said I wanted to cover up my error. Through self-inflicted mistrust people robbed themselves of all blessings bestowed by the word. Indeed, they complained there were no more blessings.

Others, who were unable to distance themselves from this false zeal,


drew deep sighs in response to this regrettable situation. One man, who until now had remained quiet, stated at a meeting, he could no longer listen to people sounding off so mercilessly against their pastor.

At the November 23rd congregational meeting, held on the 27th Sunday after Trinity, a member of the congregation, Mr. W., came with a lengthy list of complaints against me. He received permission to read that list. It began with the author's charge that from the time of the Pentacost sermon to this day his conscience had been weighted down, oppressed and deceived. He was very disturbed and angry that the pastor had not taught the congregation the difference between homologumenous and antilegomenous books in the New Testament. He had merely given the congregation warning in a manner similar to how Röbbelen's much-mentioned article had assailed God's word. Thus he had disturbed and thrown the congregation into confusion.

Secondly, certain members of the congregation slandered their brothers by calling them fanatics and destroyers of the peace. These members twisted their brothers words but the pastor not only did not punish them but supported them, calling them 'his people" while heaping papist-type guilt upon the others.

Thirdly, the pastor abandoned the congregational meeting and is reported to have said that in this manner he had punished them and led them to atonement.

Fourthly, the pastor does not give instruction in God's word. When Mr. W. had asked him to respond to his objections, the pastor had merely said he should read Chapter 20 of St. John's Revelation and pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. As the pastor saw it, as soon as he understood the chapter he would be in agreement with the pastor's interpretation. Mr. W. said this advice was erroneous. To this reply the pastor responded: So you see, when I advise someone to read God's word and pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment, they say it's bad advice.

Fifthly, the pastor quietly stated at a committee meeting that he would not render any interpretation of


the 20th Chapter of St. John's Revelation which ran contrary to the analogues of faith and because of the difficulty of the situation he would not preach about it unless the congregation gave him the power and the freedom to do so. Later at the congregational meeting he exhibited different behavior when he reprimanded a young man for arrogance because he stated he prayed for the pastor so that the loving God might lead him away from his errors. He also did not wish to discuss the statement he made at the committee meeting that he was not certain. Perhaps people had misunderstood him. He was certain that not only should people hope for the conversion of Israel and the 1000-year reign; indeed they must hope for these things. — At the end of the document Mr. W. advised the congregation members to examine the question for themselves because they could not be advised by the pastor. It was their right to examine teaching and make decisions about it based on a particular passage from Luther's work in which he stated that it is the right of all the faithful to examine teaching and decide.

After this document was read I asked everyone to hear my response in justification. This was set for the next meeting 3 days later. I wanted to take the document with me so I could examine it. I took it home. Shortly thereafter Mr. W. came to me and asked for it back on the pretense that he wanted to make copies of it. I returned it to him with the promise that he would bring it back the next day. What happened? Since I hadn't received it by early Thursday I went to the school teacher, who was going to copy it. However he refused to give it to me because he said Mr. W. had forbidden him to do so. All my protests about how unfair this was were in vain. I did not get the document. The meeting was the next day. It was the yearly general meeting in which the account books were presented and new committee members were elected. They didn't even have time to hear my complaints. A motion was passed to postpone any regular business. They forgot about their letter in accusation against me and my scheduled response. On this occasion


they had nothing better to do than press me for a brief statement concerning my chiliastic convictions. I declined on the grounds that I had given my word not to express my opinions either publically or in private. I was going to keep to that promise and so they would not succeed in extracting more information concerning my opinions. Otherwise why would they have allowed me to give that promise to keep quiet about this teaching? It became apparent they intended to get an explanation for my position on chiliasm. In feigned reverence they presented me with a passage from scripture, "Be prepared to explain to anyone the reasons for your hope, etc." One congregation member complained that I gave an ambiguous answer, I was certain but at the same time I wasn't certain. For once he wanted to hear what I was certain about, what I wasn't certain about and what I rejected as fanatical. When asked about matters of faith, I deemed it a renunciation of faith to keep quiet. Untroubled by how people would used this explanation, I gave the following testimony to faith:

1. I reject as fanatical chiliasm those ideas which are rejected in the 17th Article of the Augsburg Confession, those being that there will be a worldly reign by the godly and the pious before the resurrection of the dead and all the godless will be killed.

2. I am not certain about:
a. whether the resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20 is a physical one or something else. It certainly would not be what people understand to be a spiritual resurrection or rebirth;
b. whether the future 1000-year reign of Christ will be a visible or invisible one which merely gives rise to the judgment of the enemies of the church (the antichrist;)
c. how widespread the limitation of Satan's power will occur;
d. whether the number 1000 is a definite or indefinite period of time although I am not willing to concede that it should be understood as a brief period of time. When it comes to God's promises it is not His way to promise many things but only deliver on a few.

3. I am certain:


a. that it will be a reign with Christ with His saints;
b. that it is not a reign in heaven and in eternity but a reign on earth in time;
c. that this 1000-years has not yet occurred but is yet to come because the antichrist has not yet been destroyed.

Along the way I declared that although this was my firm conviction as based on God's word I would not turn it into an article of faith and would not wish to impose it on the consciences of others because:

1. It was not universally acknowledged teaching;

2. It deals with prophetic obscurity and one could not expect everyone to see it.

At the wish of the congregation this explanation was recorded in the protocol. At the close of the morning session I asked Mr. W. why he had told the school teacher not to give me his letter of complaint. Mr. W. answered: it wasn't a letter in complaint publically submitted but his property for his personal use. I told him that he
1. was guilty of dishonesty because he had promised to give me a cleaner copy of it;
2. he had no right to forbid the school teacher to give it back to me;
3. It was an injustice for him to present the letter as an official complaint from him and then to deny me access to the points in dispute for which I had to give a response today. He had also been unjust to other members of the congregation. He responded with vehement scorn and said in public outburst: I'm not taking back anything; not one word. I publically resign from this congregation and I'm never coming back. I reject the lies and the heresy. Then he left the meeting. He returned in the afternoon, admitted his anger and frustration, and stated that the school teacher's refusal to give him the letter was a misunderstanding.

This entire episode showed me clearly which intriguers were at work to have me removed. You may have noticed that nothing came of the letter in complaint. They considered it more prudent to let it drop and deny me the opportunity


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