The Fourth Synodal Letter, Pages 33 - 37


1.) That the author of this article was apparently raised with American and democratic ideas of the crudest fashion concerning the church and thus is to be excused for viewing everything with the eyes of a democratic politician; for example when he comments that Luther's Reformation became a radical reform of all abuses existent in the church in that it returned the right of private decision to all Christians. This means that each individual congregation member may make decisions for himself concerning teaching on ministerial and public matters because Christ had made them all kings and priests of God and Luther had abolished the tyranny whereby a few priests held sway over human conscience and God's word and gave each district congregation independent authority.

2.) In this article there are many blatant historical errors. We will only cite the main one here, since it is declared that people who were placed under the ban by our synod and church ministry and either now or previously had been driven to seek out the Missourians and get ministers from them, had separated from us for the sake of teaching. Originally there was no dispute concerning the teachings by our pastors; however those who insinuated themselves within the gangs snatched pieces here and there from Pastor Grabau's Pastoral Letter, wantonly took its message out of context and used it to form an alliance with the Missourians. They added all kinds of things to the Pastoral Letter which were not in it; for example, that laymen may not make decisions on teaching when it merely states that no one should question a verdict or reject a verdict which has been deemed appropriate to the faithful church by the ordained church court.

3.) This article is in complete agreement with the demagogical Missourian principles. The author states in this article, "The Opinion of the Missouri Synod concerning Church and Ministry * is a thoroughly American book, which aligns Lutheranism with the free spirit of American principles and institutions. Here Professor Walther and the Missouri Synod have a verdict from an unbiased individual, who asks nothing in return. He states that they are ecclesiastically democratic, which is what we have told them all along.

4.) This article abolishes the office of the key and it mades a "Declaration," a mere show or announcement of power, which cannot be administered or attained as the small catechism of Luther and the Formula of Concord explain in regard to John 20, absolution is a voice from heaven. The Lord Jesus does not say tell them their sins are forgiven but rather you absolve their sins. It is quite regrettable that with reference to the office of the key the author will scarcely acknowledge any writings of Luther other than the 95 Theses against papal practices and one other work from the early years of the Reformation. According to this teaching (Zwinglian), poor duped sinners could not readily say, through absolution I have

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* Translator's Note: The book referred to is Die Stimme unserer Kirche in der Frage von Kirche und Amt: Eine Sammlung von Zeugnissen über diese Frage aus den Bekenntnissschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche und aus den Privatschriften rechtgläubiger Lehrer derselben, von der deutschen evang.-luth. Synode von Missouri, Ohio und anderen Staaten als ein Zeugniss ihres Glaubens, zur Abwehr der Angriffe des Herrn P. Grabau in Buffalo, New York , by C. F. W. Walther, 1852. OCLC: 8824695, et. al. Return to text


received grace and forgiveness for my sins; rather he would have to say, I was told about it.

5.) It was resolved that an article would be written, translated into English and sent to Professor Reinold for publication in his Evangelical Review providing a complete list of the historical and dogmatic errors in this text.

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VIII.

Response to the Lutheran Standard concerning its Refutation of our Censure concerning the Establishment of a High School in Columbus

A justification for building the combined high school and theological seminary was read before the synod. This justification served as a refutation of the article written about it in the March 1, 1852 edition of Kirchliches Informatorium. Indeed it is not a refutation but rather a verification of what the Informatorium stated.

1.) In the justification the author acknowledges that no religious instruction is given in the high school, which supposedly supplies training in preparation for the theological seminary. Instead a chapter of the bible is read each morning. Religious instruction in the catechism is left to the parents at home and the ministers when they are able to assemble the children for that purpose. As experience from all quarters teaches, this is not enough!

2.) As to the subject that the seminiary is not under the auspices of a true Lutheran synod, we would gladly rescind the censure in the hope that the Ohio Synod will be faithful in its guardianship! We are also pleased by the announcement that the seminary's trustees will turn the facility over to the church.

3.) However we believe they spoke ill of us when they responsed that teaching the Lutheran Catechism in a high school is a form of proselytizing in the Roman style; it was also remarked that being a tyrannical pastor is just as shameful as being a tyrannical trustee. Nothing was stated in the Informatorium concerning such an institution being placed under a tyrannical pastor or total power granted by God being given to a pastor over the facility. It's apparent the author of the article continues to defend a school without religious instruction.

4.) If the seminary is called Lutheran in its charter then it is not right to omit or deny this designation merely for the sake of brevity on its published pamphlets concerning the institution. It may justifiably be censured as a sign of lack of religious profession.


IX.

The Church Newspaper of the Lutheran Congregations in Prussia
(Published by Pastor Ehlers in Liegnitz.)

The church newspaper of the Lutheran congregations in our old fatherland of Prussia was read to the synod and there was discussion on how praiseworthy it is for striving to defend true Lutheran church teaching; some of these articles in defense have even appeared in the Kirchliches Informatorium. However sometimes this newspaper mixes in certain issues which are not in reality wholesome teaching on faith. Among the evidence presented on this allegation is an article from June 15, 1851, which was read to the synod. The newspaper describes how an elderly father kept vigil and prayed throughout the night and meditated on his son, who was supposed to be accepted into the Lutheran church. During this night the elderly father (though he was really not there) stood at the window of his son and called, "Heinrich! Heinrich!" From this the son summoned up his might and the courage to gain acceptance into the Lutheran church for he interpreted this voice as a sign from God. This was despite the fact that his wife opposed such a move and was upset by it.

To make it clear to the elderly father and his son that this event was a sign from God, their pastor tells a similar story about the Moravian Count Zinzendorf. On August 13, 1727 the Count was in Herrnhut praying for the many revived souls amid a storm of tears. At the same time two absent elders, thought to be David and Melchior Nitschmann, were located in Sablat near Sorau; feeling themselves touched by some invisible force, they fell to their knees and recited a similar prayer. When they returned to Herrnhut they said (as if experiencing a divine revelation), "What happened on August 13th at that hour in Herrnhut?"

Upon inquiry the Synod decided:

1.) It is delightful to see that the Lutheran church finds so many ways to express its belief in pure orthodox teaching along with our beloved Prussian brothers in faith in its church newspaper and that it earnestly attempts to link a holy life stemming from true faith with the sacred renewal of life brought about by blessed vindication in Christ. However we regret the certain feebleness which runs beneath it whereby this phenomena alone is not enough, as the Lutheran Church amply teaches; instead manifestations originating partly with the devil and partly based on the imagination must lend support. Additionally one of our beloved brothers in office is so weak that he thinks he can prove to his church children that God hears prayers by using Moravian fanaticism and deceptive tales as examples.

Unfortunately this is proof that our beloved Lutheran brothers in faith have not been sufficiently warned about the Moravians; indeed they are still commended. It is also not appropriate that the beloved pastors in Prussia


still recommend so many pietistical books for edification in households; for example B. Rieger's Book of Daily Devotions, which contains blatant and fanantical heresy whereby a man must pray for six weeks if he wishes to be saved plus there is the pietistical teaching about repentance through conflict, whereby a man must do battle with the devil before he can gain faith and he must fight to gain his own conversion, as we see with the Methodists.

2.) Because of this we feel particularly compelled to set down testimony for our beloved brothers. We see in this country how shameful and horrible the fruits of pietistical teachings are and how our new adopted fatherland (North America) is rapidly becoming entangled in pietistical machinations and completely turning away from the word of God.

It may also be mentioned that in the course of the following year of 1852 similar superstitious phenomena, which people might call wood, hay and stubble, have not occurred.

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IX.

The Leipzig Conference held August 27th and 28th, 1851.

Superintendent Münchmeyer of Hannover had ranked this as the first of 12 theses for discussion: "The office, which preaches reconcilation, is the New Testament pastoral office and it is directly established by the Lord according to 2 Corinthians 5, 18: All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

After many of the members of the conference discussed this principle, including Harless, Thomasius, Huschke and Kahnis, Pastor Dr. Besser of Seefeld, Pomerania cited Pastor Grabau in North America as a tragic example of the danger inherent in grand expansion of the authority of ministerial office whereby obedience is demanded for the man-made orders and the ban is used as a threat. Then Professor Kahnis declared that the office was the vocation for the edification of the body of Christ, however it was no easy matter to align the functions of the office with the statements in the New Testament and the symbolic statements of our church. The symbolic books distinguish between the authority in the preaching office and the authority in the office of the keys.

After deliberation the Synod delivered the following verdict:

1) that Pastor Besser merely repeated lies written about us, which made their way back to Germany, therefore he is guilty of wantonness.

2) How is it known that no man-made order, for example the Pomeranian Church Order to which we bind ourselves or have a sense of duty, is established or maintained with the threat of the ban? Our current congregational deputies attest that we hold them voluntarily and out of conviction that these old Christian


orders are good (1 Thessalonians 5, 21) and we have observed them to the extent they are applicable to our circumstances in this country and for the sake of love and peace we want to keep them in the congregations of the Lord. None of us have heard of threateneing with the ban; however if there are people among us who publically sin against faith and against love we follow the instructions of this order concerning the Christian church ban in cases of persistent unrepentance not because the order has been violated but because of the sinful conduct and lack of repentance on the part of the individual. The order itself must be applied to the sinful conduct because it certainly describes how a Christian should conduct himself and how he should not conduct himself as based on the holy scriptures.

3) Here we have occasion to explain once again the old lie that our pastors required too great a degree of obedience by using the words, "In all church matters which are not contrary to the word of God." If a person still wishes to be fair with us then he listens to our 17-year practical application of the phrase. This phrase is not employed simply so pastors may presume the right of demanding that the congregation do this or that lest an action be contrary to the word of God; it is also so actions are in accordance with God's word! In addition it is employed so that Christian administrators and their respective congregations may hold assemblies which are mindful of God's word; for example, whether it is currently contrary to His word to enlarge a church or school. If such a thing is necessary then it is sufficiently indicated that it is in accordance with the word of God and thus may be considered. If however the congregation is currently in massive debt or in some other dire circumstance then they would decide that it would at this time be against God's word concerning Christian love for one's brother and neighbor to begin such a construction project. The word of God requires that building be deferred and people help out with the church and school as best they can so that our brothers and neighbors will not be oppressed in an unchristian way. Thus the entire Christian-minded congregation shows its true obedience in that it willingly declares it will do everything as soon as God the Lord gives it the power and the means. So it has been for all time and in all congregations, even in Buffalo through Pastor Grabau.

We consider it superficial and theoretic twaddle when our detractors and enemies keep repeating the old slanders based on the sentence, "Obedience in all church matters, etc." In our Christian experience it is unchristian to demand that which is really in accordance with the word of God or what is said to be in accordance with it and then to damage the love of brother and neighbor as if somehow what is in accordance with the word of God is contrary to love. For example, it is in accordance with His word that one congregation member pay another what he owes. However what if this repayment is forced upon someone without the means and love is damaged


Go on to pages 38 - 42


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

Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks