The Fourth Synodal Letter, Pages 13 - 17

gladly surrender their rights to him and are obedient when he preaches to them about God's word. Wynecken specifically states in his address that the holy preaching office is an essential aspect of the church on earth and that it is a vital component of the church established by God or having divine status. This teaching is contrary to the 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession where it states,"God established the preaching office and gave the gospel and the sacraments in order to propagate faith." The symbolic books describe the preaching office as a special institution and gift of God vital to the church - especially the Smalkaldic Articles where it states, "Among those having this gift are St. Paul, pastors and preachers."

Therefore it is false to confuse the honor of the spiritual priesthood in the hearts of Christians with the preaching offices instituted by God. The office is also not an honorary position but a mandate and call to the service of Jesus Christ, as St. Paul states in Acts 10: He has ordered us to preach. Like all things established by God, such as respecting parents and authority, the preaching office must be respected even if it is being conducted by a scoundrel or a fool rather than a properly appointed and spiritually gifted priest. The honorable status of a person is an aspect of true Christianity — however the office is a mandate from God. — Pastor Wynecken will be asked to show the passage in scripture where it is supposedly Christ's ordering that a baptised person hand over his rights of the spiritual priesthood to another, who thereby becomes a priest or preacher in the other's place.

4) We should mention the accusation against us by Pastor Wynecken, namely that we lay claim to power within the church, which goes beyond the word of God whereby we presume to imprison conscience in order to extract obedience in external matters and apply discipline and order in an impetus and physically comforting manner. * Thus there are no free Christians among us and no free and pious migrations within the broad range of God's word. (!) Instead there are poor slaves doomed to live miserable existences under the yoke of martyred consciences and sighing hearts; mislead consciences forced to shackle their soul's sanctity in servile submission. This concealed discontent must be released; buildings and their builders will be leveled to the ground just as the Lord must destroy them in this rage. This is the new hierarchy, which they (the Missouri Synod) would most unwelcomely impose as if they are the ones who stand by the old catechism of faith and the word of God and must therefore reject priestly domination!! —


* At least he still admits that we haven't ceased to exist. Return to text

A demagogue of our time could not describe the so-called European tryants better. Return to text

With us, on the other hand, preachers attempted only to exercise authority in external matters and claim a preferred status through which only the outward acknowledgement of authority would be extracted from a captive and enslaved conscience. Among us the power of God's word in the congregations of Christ does not move briskly and freely; among us there is no sacred seed of freedom for the children of God concerning law, sin, death and the devil; among us the superabundant treasury and wealth of spiritual and heavenly freedom is not disclosed whereby faith becomes the supreme force over everything; among us there is no gentle yoke of Christ and no pious love in the child of God to tolerate and bear everything we encounter which is not contrary to faith. We concealed the sovereignty of the so-called laity, attempted to act as their guardians and tighten the limits of their free movement (!); we attempted to curtail their rights, constrict their hearts, close their mouths, hold them in fearful subordination so that they would never issue any decisions whereby they examined the conceited and presumed supremacy of the pastors. We claimed for ourselves the role of masters and arrogantly handed over to the laity the role of obedient servants. —

The Missourians, on the other hand, supposedly educated their church members for the worthy practice of their freedom and the exercise of their rights and duties. This true, spiritual and divine freedom has no boundries therefore they have no need to fear that the laity might overstep their limits. They as like eagles, who allow their children to fly close to the sun and if this flying becomes earthly freedom, then there is always the true watchman, namely the Missouri preacher, to turn the individual back with the word of God before which the child of God will feel ashamed. * This true watchman proclaims with the holy apostles, "So God willed it that you prevail and that we might rule with you!" This true watchman requires no outward respect but he works behind the scenes so that he might receive an outpouring of love and respect from the spirit and thus may conduct the office with happiness and joy.

Most certainly they would have to do battle with the earthly freedom in the German congregations but they do not regret this sour work. The goal is splendor and they would not want to confuse it with the assumed dominance over the children of God and rob them of their rights —

They will not allow themselves to be disturbed in their work by our disapproval and our scorn. The truths that they would hold become ever clearer with the conflict they have with us. They held the shared inheritance of our fathers and yet they did not want to find refuge in the fortress of a hierarchical constitution, which they called the Roman or old Lutheran style. In summary: They would have the proper teaching concerning church and office, which was delivered to us by our fathers. They have the truth on their side and they would carry their banner just as well against the presumption of dominance by the populace as against the overextension of a false hierarchy.


* The devil himself could not work his magic better to offer such convincing testimony to glorify his practices and his ministers. Return to text

They weren't bothered when we called them slaves to men; they have their assignments well in hand. The stubborn and disputatious have driven away their preachers with hatred and scorn because these preachers would not allow themselves to be subjugated. Those won over by the word of God loved and respected their Missouri preachers and their teachers and fathers ordained by Christ; they willingly placed trust in them, were obedient to them, zealously attempted to advocate and defend the rights of the preaching office. Conversely, these teachers and fathers zealously watch over the rights of their church members so that their borrowed freedom and supremacy is not infringed upon. Finally: They wanted to beg the Lord to heal the dreadful rift which has developed between brothers concerning teaching on church and office, freedom and obedience; they should and would be united by holding fast to the profession of their fathers.

Decision of the Synod on This Matter

a) In this distended address and completely incorrect presentation of the issues Pastor Wynecken not only proves his hostility towards us (as learned from Walther) whereby he would murder us with his bombastic lies; we also see that the Missouri Synod participates in this sinful behavior by publishing this address as an example of its profession of faith. When at the conclusion he proposes that we and the Missouri Synod might still come together in the name of brotherhood, it is a shameless and blatant hypocrisy; how could there be peace and brotherhood while they produce slander in such a shameful and lethal manner.

b) Specifically in regard to this address we have a signed protest and testament from our Christian congregation deputies in which they unanimously call the following slander:

That we laid claim to authority, which lies outside the word of God. In regard to this the deputies state that we and our Christian congregations, both those who accompanied us during the emigration and those with us prior to it, are communally duty-bound to the old Lutheran church orders to the extent that their content applies to our current circumstances; neither yoking of the human spirit nor servile subjugation have been established; indeed we praise God that we come from a fatherland where all good Christian orders were given to us so we need not create new ones. We praise God that we have the freedom here to walk in the true evangelical footsteps of our fathers and preserve such good Christian orders and plant the true, German, Lutheran inheritance for our progeny. Indeed the Christian heart, which follows the divinely sanctified orders of his fathers in freely rendered obedience and does this joyfully because our God is a God of orders, knows no subjugation. This cry of papistry and tyranny could only come from impure and hostile souls and the rabble who adhere to the tenets of Israel for time immemorial, and those freely accepting the orders of their own fathers, including the Lutheran church discipline, who later come to despise it. Our assembled congregational deputies ask

Pastor Wynecken to make it known that for the most part these children of God were incited to make their accusations of spiritual tyranny while under Missouri's guidance. He is asked to prove that among us there is no freedom accorded to the children of God. Professor Walther is also asked to prove that our congregational deputies may not judge doctrine in the synod as he alleged in his libelous synopsis.

Mr. Wynecken and the Missouri Synod will also be asked to prove that it is false on our part to respect the divine preaching office in external matters for the sake of God's honor and institution and that it is correct for their side to work so that the preacher as a person will be honored in the spirit. We know that God honored the office and for the sake of the work He would have the person loved all the more. We would hope that each spiritual caregiver might be worthy of love as a child of God and a person. Pastor Wynecken will also be asked to prove how, when and where the rights of our church members have been curtailed, their hearts tied up and their lips sealed by us, plus where we keep an eye on our imagined and supposed supremacy. Further, he should prove that the Lutheran church constitution in our old Pomeranian and Saxon church orders is a hierarchical construct, particularly the articles on church discipline: notwithstanding, by persisting in his slanders he must be called a blatant and malevolent slanderer. He will be asked to prove that the spiritual and divine freedom of God's children has no boundries since he himself speaks of a limit, namely the word of God. Perhaps he would also like to prove that the divine freedom of God's children exists only in the predominance of faith in all matters and not in the full and childlike obedience to faith and the gospel whereby there is freedom from sin - Romans 6, 22. He will also be asked to prove that the free children of God are not responsible for the exercise of obedience and love to the individual who binds them in faith and delivers them to the Holy Spirit. Finally he will be warned by us all to abstain from such addresses by which he uses bombastic pretense to draw a large crowd of people to himself with promises of unlimited freedom, which he cannot substantiate in practice. Such addresses are shameful and unchristian because the path to God is not in them. They can only lead to the destruction of God's church with their courtly rhetoric and their attempt to defraud the religiously ambivalent. We might also mention here that Thomas Münzer was not ashamed to use this same type of rhetoric in his addresses on the unlimited freedom of God's children; several times it was expressly stated that the word of God has very broad boundries! Indeed, to the extent that he is "Münzerlike", he will experience the wrath of God which comes to those who contradict His word.

The summary of our findings includes the testimony and verdict of our synodal deputies, whose signatures accompany our own.

They testify that they adhere to our old Lutheran church orders as faithful Christians and our congregations have never been under the yoke of human servitude but rather participants in the sacred evangelical Christian practice.

Doctrinal Disputes
(In the 6th Missouri Synodal Report, page 17)

The Missouri Synod reports on page 17 that Pastors Brohm and Gruber had begged to take steps towards unification with Pastor Grabau and the Buffalo Synod. Pastor Habel had sent a letter to them in which he stated that he could not agree to this due to certain points of doctrine and certain practices. Pastor Habel was given clarification on these points of doctrine and he was satisfied with them. However he would only be at peace with the practices if his synod would do everything it could to come to an understanding with the Buffalo Synod without disavowing the truth.

Subsequently the Missouri Synod issued this explanation: First it must be determined if they can agree on doctrine with the Buffalo Synod; if this can be accomplished then Prof. Walther's book concerning church and office will be sent to Pastor Grabau with the request that he read it unbiasedly and be thoroughly convinced that this book is the voice of the Lutheran church. Furthermore, if he is not completely convinced, then the Missouri Synod should be willing send delegates to speak with him either openly or in private at a time and place of his determining.

So that this good deed could be accomplished they were willing to suspend all writings against Pastor Grabau provided he was willing to do likewise. If he was agreeable, he should indicate this to Pastor Wynecken. This was the manner in which they wanted to proceed in order to see if it was possible to come to an agreement with us on doctrine.

After deliberation the synod decided, particularly the deputies from the congregations:

1.) that a Christian compact grounded in truth and justice was very desirable and we were all unanimous in our hearts on this point. It was Pastors Brohms, Gruber and Haber who had prompted the Missouri Synod to take steps towards agreement; it seems to us that without their request this assembly of the Missouri Synod would not have been disposed towards discussing the matter.

2.) The indicated path towards reconciliation is objectionable in form and content.
a) In content since they attempt to reunite with us as with a sect whereby they declare that they must send gang preachers. However if they attempt to reunite with us as a Lutheran church to which they need not send gang preachers and will dutifully withdraw their gang preachers, then we could hold religious dialog with them in good conscience not just once but several times.

Go on to pages 18 - 22

Copy of text provided by the A. R. Wentz Library, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks