The Fourth Synodal Letter, Pages 28 - 32


are made powerful and active in the office with the administration of the holy sacraments, Professor Walther would cunningly charge that we taught the tenets of the papist church whereby power and sanctity are infused at the time of ordination into the character of the administering preacher or pastor, that upon ordination the person has the power to manufacture Christ's body and blood. Thus Professor Walther establishes his comparison of our proper teaching with the Roman papists, just as he had done in his synodal address of 1850. Dr. M. Chemnitz was correct when he stated in his examiniation of the papist Trident Council, "The papists would have the sacrament and absolution based not on the word of the gospels but on the person performing the absolution." We have never taught that the sacrament depended upon the individual; rather we have taught with Luther that it is God's will that it be administered through the office, which God Himself established and acknowledged when He states, "Behold, I am with you for all time unto the end of the world," Matthew 28 and "Whoever hears you, hears me."

We see clearly that our teaching is based on God's word along with the symbolic books of the church, therefore it remains proper teaching even though Professor Walther and hell rage against it and Walther writes synopses concerning our unprovable errors throughout the year.

2.) Having presented our false teaching, Professor Walther promises to offer further remarks in the synopsis; for 5 month now he has been engaged in idle chatter concerning our false teaching. He assures the reader that these are points of controversy which must first be set down before examiniation and comparison can be made. He himself acknowledges that what has been set down has not yet been examined or compared and yet he has let his readers know that we have perpetrated Roman-papist teaching. Through this we see the dishonest conduct of Mr. Walther. We have contended for 5 months that true Christians are guilty of sin when they put off producing their proofs for 5 months or so and do not inform their readers, when they fill their readers with false interpretations and prejudice so that later on they can construct better lies which they pass off as proofs. In the meantime he also delays giving us his proof for 5 months or more when he supposedly already has the proof (according to his own preface.) We have always thought that Christians are supposed to be responsible for what they say when it pertains to God's word, as St. Peter states and they are supposed to prove that what they say is true at the time they say it.

3.) We know full well as members of the faithful church of God that the papist church, for example, still has holy scripture and it has rules and guiding principles of faith. We know that it still has teaching concerning the holy trinity, the person of Christ, etc. Therefore one finds in the papist literature (from which our documents take many citations) and even the works of the Jesuits many correct statements which agree with the word of God and the articles of faith.


However if there really were certain similarities between the words and the rhetoric, it still does not follow that our church teaching was Roman-papist. It is dishonest of Professor Walther and it needs to be noted that he merely seeks out the similarity in the words for his synopsis; that is, he tries to make them similar so he can use them to support his slanders, especially in the third column, where upon examiniation one sees that the words and the interpretation are quite dissimilar.

4.) Once Professor Walther has completed his lengthy summary, we will have the church ministry examine his proofs and comparisons closely and with God's help prepare a refutation. We will commission the church ministery to prepare a report. Part of it will be published in Kirchliches Informatorium, making it as brief and understandable as possible. A portion of it will appear in the supplement to the 4th Synodal Letter.

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IV.

Verdict on the Lutheran Herold published by H. Ludwig in New York

Pastor von Rohr read a review of the book on the life of Johann Arnd which appeared in the Lutheran Herold. He supplied copies of the review to the church ministry. It was our decision to publish this review in the Kirchliches Informatorium as soon as possible along with a list of the erroneous teaching contained within it, for example concerning the journeys to hell and heaven by Christ, the eclipse of the sun and moon, the discussion on Bileam's donkey. Thus our church members will be warned about such confused intellectualism.

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V.

Verdict concerning the Lutheran Messenger
with regard to Public Schools

(Edited by Pastor Anstädt, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)

(A Comparison of Opinions concerning the Public Schools in the Lutheran Churches of North America)

It is of the greatest necessity that the Synod examine and explain the issues being presented and expanded upon in the church and political newspapers concerning the current situation of North American public schools. First we examined an article in the Lutheran Messenger of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania written by Pastor Fetter of Buttler, Pa. This article is just as lacking in religious profession as others which have appeared previously in the Messenger. The author declares that the public school system is the pillar of our freedom; he contends that religious, civic and every other kind of good will come of it, a claim which can only be made of a faithful Christian education.


It is his opinion that we have only to look at the faces of our free countrymen and regard their intellectual capabilities, which have been brought to fruition through public schools. It must be conceded that our system is certainly better than nothing at all.

We compared this with what was stated in our Third Synodal Letter on pages 34 through 37 concerning the value of public schools. It was decided that Pastor Fetters opinions and the information in our synodal letter would appear in Kirchliches Informatorium. We consider it necessary that our church members receive instruction in accordance with God's word so they may have open eyes regarding this issue of public school education. Concerning the Messenger itself we decided that this was just another example of its false teachings, which have been laid out by one of our pastors.

In conjunction with this matter there was a discussion by the synod and the results are as follows:

1.) As a matter of faith we must see to it that no Lutheran congregation turns its Christian parochial school into a district school because that school would be delivered into the control of the State and the State Superintendent. In doing so people would have to give up religious education, even if only for 3 months out of the year.

2.) It is advisable that the Lutheran congregations hire Christian and Lutheran district school teachers, which are reimbursed by the State, for their public schools. This is currently the case in Freystadt where the district school is next to the parochial school. Here it is also important that the teacher be paid for hours of instruction throughout the 3 months of summer.

3.) If the district school holds evening hours and the trustees are in agreement, there is no objection to a parochial school teacher also holding evening school sessions, whereby he may supplement his income.

4.) The current synod is in accord concerning all statements made in the Second and Third Synodal Letters concerning the defects in the district schools and their possible rejection by majority vote. We must strive to make them unnecessary for our congregations; this can happen when Christian parochial school teachers receive instruction so they can teach English and thus free confirmed young people from having to attend district schools in order to learn English, which they will need to have to conduct business and exercise their civic duties.

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VI.

The American General Synod

In the so-called Lutheran Shepherd's Voice , organ of the new General Synod, which came into existence February 12, 1846,

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Later the newspaper changed its name to the Lutheran Church Messenger. Return to text


there was printed a letter to all Lutheran and United Churches in Germany requesting the assistance of the residents of Germany to lend financial support to the Lutheran General Synod of North America. The leaders of this group are S. S. Schmucker of Gettysburg and Benj. Kurtz of Baltimore. They openly profess what kind of church they want to have and their candor is praiseworthy since it does not deceive Lutheran Christians. Their profession is this:

1.) that they wish to stand with the United Church in Germany on equal footing yet they will not be United but rather Lutheran; in this one sees that the term "lutheran" is merely a pretense.

2.) They themselves say that their preachers no longer believe in the Lutheran teachings on the eucharist, namely that Christ's body and blood are truly present in the sacrament. Thus they declare themselves followers of Zwingli and Calvin.

3.) Holy Baptism in only a symbolic reception into Christian society and they do not believe in original sin.

4.) Baptism and absolution are outdated things to them. Anyone can partake of the eucharist without making a confession if he wishes and if (in his own opinion) he is in good standing. (Methodism!)

5.) In practice they side with the Methodists and they wish to stimulate people through Methodist instruction.

6.) They say the symbolic books must be subordinate to the holy scripture and not even a Lutheran Christian has set them above holy scripture or made them equals.

7.) However they would ascribe to fundamental teachings in the holy scriptures and would accept parts of the symbolic books, which agree with this fundamentalism.

8.) In assuming these fundmental teachings from the holy scriptures they consider themselves independent researchers and commentators on the bible and thus their doctrinal system is derived from their own independent research and commentary. They do not profess that holy scripture must be the source of the highest divine light or the divine judge of all their research and thought by which they must measure their own interpretations; rather their own intellect is the judge which takes from the bible whatever is pleasing to it. They declare themselves eclectics, people who choose the best parts based on the activity of their own sound reasoning.

This new General Synod (since 1820) runs parallel to the Union Agenda in Germany; it is essentially non-denominational and of late it has announced that it wishes to be an association of preachers having similar opinions concerning basic truths set down in the Augsburg Confession. It is not important that they be in agreement on divine truths, only that they have similar opinions. This year the General Synod has subsumed the old Pennsylvania Synod with a hundred or more preachers; during the voting session of the assembled Pennsylvania Synod there were only 28 votes cast against this annexation.


Upon examination of the matter our current synod delivered a unanimous verdict.

1.) The General Synod is not merely interdenominational, it is entirely lacking in a profession of faith. It is Methodist in its practices and it exists as an arrogant slanderer of the true authority of the holy scriptures. It is a cunning scorner of the symbolic books of our church, hiding behind the pretense that the symbolic books must not take presidence over holy scripture. Thus they claim the right to disregard them and cast suspicion upon them as thought they do not agree with portions of the scriptures and as though they contain outmoded teaching and it would be foolish to believe in such things, for example, the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of the altar. As Dr. Schmucker expressly states in a book , "Indeed it is not credible that we could eat the body of our friend, Jesus Christ and only an idiot would believe that the body of Christ supposedly fills every crevice." From this we see how capriciously the doctrine on the holy eucharist of the apostolic church is perverted.

2.) The synod further decided that all churches and synods calling themselves Lutheran which join this General Synod are nothing other than faithless and fallen Lutherans who have abandoned the fundamental principle of healthy Christian teaching. Within such heretical interpretation teaching on the person of Christ cannot be purely maintained and it must lead to gross Nestorian and free spirit errors. God grant the grace that all who take such sinful steps towards joining the General Synod, especially the Pennsylvania Synod, may turn back from the path of corruption.

3.) Based on the holy scriptures and the profession of faith in the Lutheran church we acknowledge and declare that the General Synod and all who join it are no longer part of the Lutheran church because they belie the church's faith, reject its profession of faith and do not shy away from conducting themselves in a manner similar to that of the Methodist sects.

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VII.

The Article by Professor Reinold
or someone else in the Evangelical Review, 1853.

An article, which appeared in the Evangelical Review and which was written by Professor Reinold of Columbus (Ohio) in 1853, was read before the Synod. The article is titled, "The Church and Its Preaching Office." After the reading there was inquiry and then a verdict was unanimously delivered as follows:

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The American Lutheran Church, delineated by S. S. Schmucker, D. D., Springfield, Ohio, 1851. Return to text


Go on to pages 33 - 37


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

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks