Clarifications on the General Meeting held by the Synod of Buffalo by Johann An. A. Grabau
Pages 42 - 46



         c. doctrinal issues arising from decisions and consequences. (See sermons on the Christ - 1 Moses 3,15 and Isaiah 7, 14 and Isaiah 53 for Words from God's own mouth.)
         d. corroboration with other decisions concerning the Old and New Testament. (See Romans 10, 6 - 18.)

Application for Ministers

It therefore follows that pure tales of faith or pure teachings *) [1.] (as here: "that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God"), pure external declarative paraphrasing of Holy Text, pure rhetorical praise and extrapolation from these words may not supplement and strengthen faith of Christians (within the congregation): then the gospel would be preached differently from the way in which we have ourselves preached it, Galatians 1, 8, 9. And he is accursed who does such for it is vain oratory and not preaching; and they shall not listen to him when he comes, be it from near or far. Thus I say to you and your children.

No. III
Not Acknowledging the Accusations

It was an unjust charge that I had taught that "pure preaching is not dependent upon the power of the Word of God but rather this pure preaching may also be proven with passages from Holy Scripture."

I have never preached such a ponderous thing in my life. The power of God's Word is not dependent upon that which is preached or upon our preaching it much less the fact that it is first proven to be God's Word through passages in Holy Scripture!

The sermon, as submitted, said nothing about the power of God's Word being primarily dependent upon our preaching it! That is an erroneous accusation.

Rather I speak of the principle convincing power which lies within the Christian sermon, through which the listeners may find fruit and blessing.

This rests in two sections (according to statements in the Holy Epistles)
   1.) In significant matters of that Christian truth, which one will teach or preach while refering to Scripture. That is called the proposition.
   2.) In the demonstration of the aforeposited truth: from biblical text, in conjunction with, leading from and verified by other clear passages of Holy Scripture.

There is no oratory within the sermon that the Word of God or its godly power, which is self-sustaining, is first dependent upon our preaching it or dependent upon pure sermonizing (See No. IV); rather it is the reverse. All pure sermonizing depends upon the Word of God, which we must use correctly in preaching. It is created from text out of godly connection or as pure deduction drawn from other passages of Holy Scripture.

Further the sermon states that sanctifying faith comes from preaching, but only when the actual sermon comes from the Word of God; this means if we correctly use the Word of God in our sermons, then the sermon becomes the Word. Acts 6,4.

When the proper use of God's Word fails in the sermon it becomes a sermon beyond and contrary to God's Word. It becomes oratory kata anthropoa, that is, mere human discourse. No sanctifying faith is imparted or contained in this for it is outside the Word of God. There is nothing in the sermon concerning "proofs of pure teaching through passages in Holy Scripture." Rather we demonstrate the truth we preach through text, contingency, proper deduction and proclamation from Holy Scripture.

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[1.] *) This is not "preaching pure doctrine." Return to text


The sermon says even less about the power "of God's Word" through passages of Holy Scripture: God's Word does not require this.

However what men discuss to be beyond and above God's Word, that is, pulpit oratory without the proper use of God's Word in the sermon, we shall see in living examples under No. 8 of the following 4th Part.

No. IV.

Non-Recognition of the Verdict of the 4 - 5 Pastors
(Wolläger, Zeumer, Leemhuis, Gram, Brand)

1.

They say "Because there is no difference between God's Word and pure doctrine, pure doctrine is the Word of God; thus it is false to say that the power of God's Word is not dependent upon it, that it is purely preached and subsequently that this pure doctrine may also be proven with passages in Holy Scripture.

If pure doctrine, that is God's Word, carries its own power within itself, then it is God's power in accordance with Romans 1,16; could it not also receive its power from other passages of Holy Scripture if only to confirm and verify it."

Response

Herein there is error. We Christians say that Holy Scripture is principle and absolute, that it is God's Word immediately given by God. But we only call doctrine derived from Scripture conditional precept of the Word of God when and if it lies fully in agreement with God's Word. Then we also call it "pure doctrine"; pure doctrine from the Word of God is further called predicative. The tenet "pure doctrine is God's Word" proceeds in predicato because it comes purely and solely from God's revealed Word, not because it originally came to us without God's revealed Word. Only the revealed and written Word of God is the original home of sanctifying doctrine.

Further - "That the power of God's Word is not dependent upon it, since it is purely preached pure doctrine may thus be proven through passages in Holy Scripture," - this above mentioned ponderous deposition I have not taught in my lifetime.

The power of God's Word is dependent upon nothing and it does not come from what we preach; the power of it exists prior to our sermons and independent of them! Moreover it is not dependent upon nor does it originate in confirming passages of Scripture. Its power exists prior to and without such confirmation or clarification of it through other passages.

This is the pure meaning and teaching of the sermon, as previously reported on page 42, III. 2 - "that all fruit, etc."

N.B. Perhaps this misconception concerning the sermon comes from an unfortunate transcription error of the text on page 41, No. II, Applications, where "this" [nominative singular neuter] is replaced by "this" [nominative singular feminine]. [See Transcriber's Note] Even so this leaves the wondrous nature of the verdict unconceivable.

Further let it again be stated: "Pure doctrine is the Word of God (which carries its own power within itself); it is the Power of God." Romans 1,16. That was improperly stated - people play so fecklessly with predicates as through they were godly subjects! We may equivocate pure doctrine with predicates of God's Word only when and where they contain a sense of God's Word and only to that extent may they be called God's Power. They are not derived but rather created from the revealed and written Word of God and present in the true church.

Romans 1,16 is the verbal gospel, the ground-laying sermon of the Apostle's meaning and

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Transcriber's Note - In German the use of the nominative singular feminine "this" on page 41 makes it seem as though Grabau is going to verify the Word of God Himself. By stating that he meant the nominative singular neuter "this", the act of verification becomes independent of God's Word. Return to text


it is called a power of God towards sanctity. St. Paul would not shrink from this in the face of the ways of the world in his apostolic office, as shown in verse 15.

Pure doctine carries its full power within itself but it does not create its power out of itself, rather it proceeds from God's immediate revelation in the Holy Scripture. Herein you have a) its purity and b) its power and c) its confirmation and verification to the heartfelt conviction of men. But this is not where it ends.

2.

They say:
"Regardless of whether the power of pure doctrine depends upon other established proofs, we still maintain that each and every minister of God's Church should strive to imitate the holy apostles." etc.

Answer
Here once again matters are being discussed, which were not in my sermon - for example "that the power of pure doctrine does not depend upon other established proofs." Yet since it was brought up as though it were unnecessary - so I answer: The power of pure doctrine rests within itself not as a primary principle but as a subsequent and consequential secondary principle from God's Word and because it expresses the divine sense of God's Revelation. Its efficacy and perceivability shall forever be requisite within human understanding and the human heart for it demonstrates and actuates itself through divine revelation.

However this is not what the sermon was about, rather it concerned the divinely unique truth, which one intends to preach in order to supply proof to the listeners from text, out of which simple conclusions may be drawn along with other (necessary) passages from Holy Scripture; thus posited truth becomes faith in the hearts of the listeners, as is shown in Epistles Act 9. St. Paul did this and so did all the apostles and thus we must proceed - but not merely so. But should each individual strive as though this were merely a worthwhile wish! If this is the case not only would there be a great deficiency in the sermon but it would be an untruth and a perversion on the part of the minister for neglecting what he should and what he is capable of. 1 Corinthians 4, 1.2.

And furthermore if it is so judged that preached pure doctrines should rather be called "conditional doctrine", would not what one wishes to preach be stripped of its divine power through this deficiency. Rather teachings are always proven to be God's Power and thus it is repeatedly to be answered that there is another aspect to this power - an in-itselfness ("in se") and an aspect of it "in me" [within the individual]. All pure teaching contains its self-actuating power through its convergence ("Conveniens") with the Word of God, but for the listener [to the sermon] this power is not distinguished from the revealed written Word of God. Therefore the force, to which the listener has thus far not been introduced or conveyed, must be accepted as specified by human authority and faith stands not as God's Authority but as "what the minister says." The apostles did not serve in this way nor did Christ. It is therefore necessary that the sense and power of each doctrine, which one wishes to clarify and preach, be demonstrated as coming from God's Own Word. The content of the sermon's text in particular must demonstrate that faith comes solely from God's Own Mouth and Discourse. Thus pure teaching, that is, the sense of God Himself, becomes power not only in itself but also in myself and in yourself. In this way the truth of pure teaching in the sermon is proven primarily not through discussion


but from divine proof of each truth, which one attempts to preach; that is, the proposition.

Thus it is an unjust verdict that I had spoken on the condemnation in Galatians 1, 8 and 9 - that a preacher may only have the above-mentioned deficiency.
No. That's no mere deficiency. It's an untruth and what is more, it is a misuse of God's Name when he uses pulpit rhetoric instead of divine proof through text and instead of real teachings whereby God's Words are properly used and when he allows that rhetoric to be perceived by simple Christians to be God's Word and Sense and allows them to go home with that meaning. To this I say: God will not allow such untruth and misuse of His Name to go unpunished and I will heatly make all confirmed candiates and all comfortable and easy priests aware of God's wrath but I will no longer condemn them. I have retracted the condemnation but not the exposition of these sins for their repentance and improvement. I cannot do otherwise!

3.

They say: "I may have made the power of divine words codependent upon the manner and means by which they are preached, — because at the conclusion of the sermon it was stated that "a mere tale of faith and pure teaching, mere expository and declarative paraphrasing of text, mere rhetorical praise of it and about it could not approach and strengthen the faith of Christians."
"It therefore follows that a mere tale of faith and pure teaching contains no divine power within itself, rather as it is comported it may be useless (that is, offensive to God) discourse and void preaching."

Is this a reasonable conclusion? That it is mere story-telling, historical, declarative discourse and preaching which cannot approach and strengthen faith and therefore is not preaching. Thus I make the power of God's Word dependent upon the manner and means by which it is preached!! The assertion that it is not preaching and that I may have made the power of God's Word dependent upon the manner and means by which it is preached should be proven! This conclusion is not correct! — yet still a correlative was interpolated, namely: "thus it follows that a mere tale, etc. of pure teaching carries no divine power within itself, etc. therefore it must be noticed that divine power is conferred upon pure doctrine itself in actuality and usage (in actu et usu); that is, where it occurs and is taught, and internally resides in it. However divine power never is conferred in discourse which is not teaching but rather story telling and rhetoric. The devil can tell stories and use rhetoric too and the faith, which comes from it, does not emanate from history. By this I mean mere historical faith, which does not sanctify man! Luther, Volume IV, p. 1375 and XI, p.4,5. Thus our symbolic standards rejected what the Roman papacy celebrated as pure and accepted dogma!*)[1.] For example Augsburg Confession Article XX: "Here there was instruction in our church that one should not speak of such faith, which the devil and the godless also possess and which the historians believe, that Christ had suffered and was risen from the dead, etc.

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[1.]*) That is pure recognition of faith's doctrine. Return to text


Rather one should speak of true faith, which is the result of that history, that throughout Christendom we were granted grace and forgiveness for our sins."

Such historical faith does not call upon the name of the Lord! Further: "Augustin reminds us that we should understand the term 'faith' in the sense of the Scriptures, that is reliance upon God whereby he will be merciful unto us. It is not merely historical knowledge, which the devil also knows." The Apology, page 255, R. 144 *)[1.]
Fidem intelligunt tantum notitiam historiae dogmatum, non inteligunt [sic], hanc virtutem esse quae approhendit promissionem gratiae et justitiae, quae vivificat corda in terroribus peccati et mortis. (v. Ro. 10.10) cs. 525, paragraph 6; 173, paragraph 45.

Only as an exception does Page (151) 142 stand under the hand of divinely special grace - "Mansit tamen aliqous pios cognitio Christi inter has obscurationes per tratitiones humanas."

Thus God's Word, even when it is read (as is Luther's Latin Bible in the monastery), imparts its own self-actuating power in the contemplative reader. But no faith is derived from mere historic papal sermonizing, which people are supposed to consider pure Christian teaching. I reject this foolish interpretation, that the mere telling of tales etc., is Christian sermonizing from pure teaching, which carries its own power within itself and which nourishes and sustains santifying faith! It is not justified through Scripture and symbology. This historical approach is no manner or means in which to preach God's Word. It is non-preaching, which is good for no one and as for those lazy preachers, who complain about it, they have little or nothing better to do.

Above all else it is non-preaching of the Gospels because it is usage (in usu) but hardly in usage to publicly impart the Words of God (in usu publico verbi divini). It is preaching the Gospel differently from the way the Holy Apostles preached it and from the way we have preached it by God's Grace. It is a vain imparting of the Name and Word of God.

4

Here I was supposed to have taught that to preach pure doctrine as well as the gospel of Christ but to offer no proof, is to confuse Christians and condemn them in accordance with Galatians 1. This is erroneous. I did not speak of those things, which may be preached along with Christ's Gospel; rather I submitted that to engage in discussions of pure doctrine without reference to gospel is to speak historical and rhetorical gossip from the pulpit. Preaching without the gospel is not teaching; rather it creates confusion for Christians. They remain in the dark concerning the sense of God's Words and they receive neither understanding nor faith.

5 and 6

"These 4 or 5 brothers in office wish to state not only that I may be a false teacher, they also say I attempted to establish false doctrine."

Answer

It would be false doctrine if the sermon had been as they stated it in their deposition. But this is summarily untrue. There was nothing in the sermon which preaches pure doctrine*)[2.] Rather it discussed things well known and praised within the church, things which unfortunately were fully obfuscated through pulpit gossip to the point where no one knew what they were! I have neither taught false doctrine nor have I attempted to establish it. The application of the statement in Galatians 1 against the non-teacher was difficult and thus too broad to comprehend; for this reason the public and fundamental heretics are bound up in each statement. Moreover argumentative yet empty pulpit gossip confounds the soul in the manner in which it preaches an issue to death within a short span of time.

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[1.]*) In the preaching they understand faith only as a knowledge of history but they do not understand the doctrine of faith, that faith is power which reaches towards the promise of grace and righteousness, which gives new life to the heart in the face of the horrors of sin and death. Return to text

[2.] *) The Gospel Return to text


Go on to Pages 47 - 52


Photocopy of the text provided by the Yale Divinity Library, New Haven, Ct.

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks,